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Connacht Tribune

Proposal for directly-elected mayors in county towns

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A radical proposal to appoint directly-elected mayors to three County Galway towns is to be put before the next meeting of the local authority.

The mayoral chains in Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea have been redundant for almost six years following the abolition of the town councils in 2014, as part of local government reform.

The abolition of the town councils resulted in the role of the Mayor being dispensed with, much to the annoyance of local community groups and public representatives who feel that these towns have been deprived of a figurehead.

The proposal by Tuam’s Cllr Karey McHugh will call for elections or plebiscites involve those who had previously voted in the town council elections in Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea and would be held on an annual or, possibly, biannual basis.

It will also be suggested by the Independent councillor that the mayors of these three towns would become part of the Municipal Councils in these areas in an advisory role.

She said that it was a retrograde step to abolish the town councils and consequently dispense with the role of the Mayor.

“A Cathaoirleach of Municipal Council doesn’t really have the same ring to it,” Cllr McHugh added.

“In Tuam, for example, when we had a town council and a Mayor we used to have functions celebrating the Person of the Year and the group of the year but following its abolition, these ceremonies have also gone by the wayside.

“We no longer have a Mayor of the town that can attend events being organised by community groups and even when it comes to functions relating to our twinning with the Bavarian town of Straubing, we no longer have a mayor to represent us.

“I’m told that the loss of the mayors in Ballinasloe and Loughrea have presented similar difficulties,” she added.

She claimed that if Galway County Council had the willingness to restore the position of Mayor to these towns, it would not necessarily require any change to the Local Government Act.

It will be proposed that the Council seek Government approval to hold plebiscites in the three towns for directly-elected mayors to be appointed.

A similar plebiscite is being mooted when Galway City and County Councils are due to be merged in 2021. The plebiscite would ask the people of the county if they want a directly-elected mayor in the event of that merger going ahead.

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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