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Probe into high mineral content in soil at city pitches

Dara Bradley

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Soil samples showing extremely high levels of minerals at city pitches are being sent to laboratories for testing to determine if there is a risk to health and safety of players.

Galway City Council has asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to investigate soil test results, which reveal massively high levels of zinc, copper and iron at the new pitches at Westside.

Readings from soil samples taken at Corrib Rangers soccer pitches and St Michael’s GAA pitch are way above recommended levels.

The readings are so high the City Council has referred them to the HSE to determine if there is a risk to players and other users of the pitches.

The level of iron found in the soil at the pitches is 11 times the recommended levels. The level of zinc in the soil is roughly 10 times the recommended level.

According to the soil report, the level of copper to be found in the soil is also far in excess of the recommended levels.

The presence of massively high mineral levels in the soil is being blamed for poor grass growth on the pitches, which were only opened last year.

According to informed sources, the soil is not responding to fertilizer, and is too laden with minerals to grow.

“The quality of soil is very poor,” said one source in Corrib Rangers.

“The grass is not growing the way it should do, especially for new pitches. It’s poor quality soil. There isn’t much you can do with it. The levels of iron, zinc and copper are way above what they should be. They are crazy levels. I’m not sure what the impact is on health and safety but it’s no good for growth.”

The knock-on effect is that the pitches are ‘cutting-up’, and have uneven, mucky surfaces.

A St Michael’s GAA source said: “There is talk they might have to dig it up and re-surface it, with proper topsoil. Questions have to be asked about how this could happen. If you pay so much money for new pitches, then you wouldn’t expect that the soil quality would be an issue.”

The City Council, owners of the sports centre, yesterday received copies of the pitches’ soil reports from the contractors who carried out the work.

The local authority said suggestions that high levels of minerals in the soil might pose a risk to the public are taken “very seriously”.

“The soil test reports contain no reference to toxicity,” said a Council spokesperson.

“We are referring the report to the HSE for comment in relation to any health risks. The City Council takes its responsibility regarding health and safety very, very seriously – it is one of our top five priorities. This is why when health and safety is raised, we take it very seriously,” he added.

The source of the problem hasn’t yet be confirmed. One theory is that the topsoil was taken from an area rich in minerals. Another theory is that area was previously an old dumping ground.

The new pitches’ project has been jinxed. The re-development of the pitches was delayed by set-backs on the construction of the Seamus Quirke Road, which was over-budget.

CITY TRIBUNE

Glass roof over Latin Quarter among raft of proposals to Galway City Council

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to put a roof over the Latin Quarter – with outdoor heaters to combat Galway’s changeable weather – is among a raft of suggestions that will be considered by the Council as it draws up the next City Development Plan.

The widespread use of outdoor theatre and extended opening hours for retail and cultural attractions are also on the cards as members of the public and lobby groups push for a city that offers the broadest range of tourist attractions.

As part of series of measures put forward to improve the outdoor offering in the city, one submission – which is understood to have been noted by the Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath in his report on plan, which is at ‘pre-draft’ stage – is to put a glass ceiling on the city centre’s main commercial thoroughfares.

Planners are currently considering the proposal as part of more than 500 submissions made to Council in the first public consultation for the document, which will shape development in the city for six years after 2023.

It’s proposed that by covering the length of Quay Street/Latin Quarter in high retractable glass panes ‘mounted on decorative supports’, and installing street heaters, ‘a comfortable outdoor ambiance could be created’.

This is one of almost 50 submissions made in the area of economic development, where the theme of improving the city’s night-time economy and tourism offering feature prominently.

In another submission from Fáilte Ireland, the tourism authority expresses its desire that the next City Development Plan should have a chapter dedicated to tourism, such is its importance to the city’s economic success.

As well as developing Galway’s growing reputation as a ‘foodie destination’, developing the night-time economy is identified as being ‘an important aspect of ensuring a vibrant city centre and means more than just developing a bar and restaurant culture’.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

100 new jobs for Galway City Sports Direct outlet

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Sports Direct retail giant is set to create up to 100 new jobs when it takes over the former Debenhams department store in the Corrib Shopping Centre.

And the company’s sister outlet Heatons looks set to make a return to the city – possibly in the same building, although management are remaining tight-lipped.

Sports Direct has taken a lease on the Debenhams premises, which has been vacant since before the pandemic, and it will open in June.

“The 65,000 sq ft store will comprise four floors and will consist of Sports Direct, USC and Brand Max. 100 jobs for the store will be created,” a spokesperson confirmed to the Galway City Tribune.

The spokesperson could not confirm that the Heatons brand – which is also owned by English billionaire Mike Ashley – will also be opening as part of the move. The group is currently advertising for staff to work at a new Heatons store in Galway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Forty firefighters tackle major blaze at Galway golf shop

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Up to 40 firefighters from across the city and county fought a major fire at the GolfStyle superstore off the Tuam Road for around six hours on Thursday morning.

Gardaí on routine patrol in the Liosbán Business Park shortly before 3am noticed smoke coming from the roof of the building and immediately alerted the fire service.

The building, which was unoccupied at the time, is understood to have suffered major structural and roof damage in the fire that started in the first floor.

At one point, 11 fire engines from the city, Athenry, Loughrea, Carraroe and Gort fought the blaze, using water tankers and aerial ladders, as well as having a command unit in place.

Firemen equipped with breathing apparatus also had to force their way into the building to tackle the source of the fire, that possibly could have been caused by an electrical problem.

The fire was brought under control at around 7.30am, but the Fire Brigade remained at the scene for a number of hours afterwards in case of any secondary outbreak.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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