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CITY TRIBUNE

Public Accounts Committee’s concerns over Galway 2020

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Serious concerns about governance structures in Galway 2020 have been highlighted at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

And fears over the European Capital of Culture project achieving value-for-money for the State’s multi-million euro investment, was also raised at a hearing of Dáil Éireann’s spending watchdog.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht is the biggest funder of Galway 2020, and has agreed to stump-up €15 million for the year-long event.

Department officials told the PAC they will draw on the experience of what was learned during the Pálás Cinema project, which was delayed and ran over budget. They said they were working to ensure, “robust project management structures are put in place for the European Capital of Culture Galway 2020 project”.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly was not convinced, however.

“I have serious concerns about the robust governance structures but, importantly, many people on the ground have serious concerns also. I welcome that the Department is saying this, but what robust governance structures are already in place for the money paid out?”

Deputy Connolly pointed out that a substantial amount of the €15 million has already been allocated.

Subsequent to Galway 2020 CEO Hannah Kiely resigning last month, Deputy Connolly said she received an invitation to an event that was signed by the CEO’s assistant. Its website also still listed Ms Kiely as Galway 2020 CEO, she said.

“One might say these are minor details but they reflect the situation. It sends the wrong message if the website still lists her and letters are being issued on her behalf by her personal assistant inviting people to an event in spite of her having left her post over two weeks ago,” said Deputy Connolly.

The Independent TD also highlighted the issue of a lack of an Irish officer in Galway 2020; but spending oversight was her main concern.

“In the context of value for money, what robust structures are in place to safeguard the spending of the €15 million being allocated by a Department? What will be delivered for that money? What service level agreement is in place? A performance level agreement is now under discussion. At what stage is that process?”

PAC chairman, Deputy Sean Fleming, pointed out that the Department’s official who is a board member of Galway 2020 has a “fiduciary duty” to the company and cannot discuss the matter with the PAC outside a board meeting.

Deputy Connolly said the issue of a member of the Department sitting on the board was “very important in terms of robust governance”

She added: “What is his or her role and should he or she be on the board? Should there be a hands-off approach involving the situation being properly monitored with proper accountability?

“I raise these issues because I am seriously concerned. I do not need to say that I am a proud Galwegian. I am proud that Galway is to be the European Capital of Culture but I am not proud of the absence of robust governance structures at every level.”

Deputy Fleming said the PAC would write to the Department outlining the concerns.

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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