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Probe into starvation of Galway horse herd

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Up to 20 horses were found in appalling conditions in Briarhill, following a complaint to the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health and Welfare unit.

It was only when the Department, assisted by the charity Hungry Horse Outside, entered the 30-acre site near Ballybrit racecourse last month that they realised the full extent of the mistreatment and cruelty.

Seven carcasses were found in the field at varying stages of decay, while the horses that had survived their horrific circumstances were starving, weak and being eaten alive by worms.

The horses that died of starvation had undergone unimaginable pain and suffering.

According to Hilary Robinson – founder of the Longford-based charity that took the live animals into their care – they died the cruellest of deaths.

“To die of starvation is a terrible thing, it’s just desperate. It’s just so horrendous because they fight so hard for their lives; that is just their natural instinct. Can you imagine standing in that weather and the cold all over the Christmas, hungry from one end of the day to the other, searching around for a bit of food?

“Even eating bits of branches, chewing on the timber and, you know, trying to plough the muck – just horrendous,” said Hilary.

On their first attempt to rescue the horses, Ms Robinson and her team took seven horses back to their Newtownforbes base, only filling the lorries to a safe level in the knowledge that the weakness of those rescued would almost certainly mean they would ‘go down’ during transportation.

When they returned, they found that the owner had removed several of the horses from the area before they had a chance to be rescued.

Of the eight horses rescued, only four have survived – three of which are mares and heavily in foal.

She has since had the owner of the horses at her door demanding the horses be given back – the details of which she has passed on to Gardaí.

She described how it is difficult to prove ownership and convict neglectful owners due to non-enforcement of laws surrounding micro-chipping – which has been a legal requirement since 2009 – and called for tighter controls.

“That’s where we come in – prevention is the best the whole way around – education, micro-chipping, and castration, those are the three important things – why breed horses if you don’t have a market,” said Hilary.

The charity is calling on the owner of the land to come forward so they can close it off to prevent a reoccurrence of these horrifying conditions.

“We need to emphasise this, we need the owners of the land to come forward so that we can close it up so that never happens again.

“The reason this one is so bad is the fact that it is Galway City, a very rich and affluent city; it’s beside the racecourse with helicopters flying for racing and things like that and these animals have been starving all winter long,” she said.

An investigation will now be carried out by the Department of Agriculture into this horrendous case of neglect.

A Department spokesperson said: “The Department can confirm that it is continuing its investigation into the neglect of horses in Briarhill.”

Ms Robinson believes the problem of neglect is at serious levels in Galway, with a further eight horses needing rescuing from a location in South County Galway this week.

Hungry Horse Outside, the GSPCA, the Department of Agriculture and a Dept of Agriculture vet will meet this week in Galway to formulate a strategy of prevention.

CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport

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From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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