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‘Red tape’ stalls Barna greenway

Denise McNamara



The Barna Greenway appears to have fallen foul of State bureaucracy after it failed to be included in the latest round of cycle and pedestrian paths to be funded by the Government.

In a parliamentary question by Galway West TD Catherine Connolly last July, Transport Minister Shane Ross replied that the greenway was proposed by the Galway Transport Strategy and implementation of that strategy was a matter for the local authorities.

Funding from his Department was available to support the rollout of projects administered by the National Transport Authority (NTA), he said, and referred Deputy Connolly’s question to them.

However, the agency replied last month that while the NTA was responsible for funding urban cycle routes in regional cities such as Galway, the funding of greenways nationally, including the Barna Greenway, is the responsibility of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Deputy Connolly then wrote to Galway City Council, asking if the project had been included in the latest budget.

In their response, a spokesperson for the Transportation Department stated that nationally all greenways were paused by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport until a national strategy was developed.

“As such, the Barna Greenway was paused and is not included in our current 2019 Annual Service Plan and we have no budget provision for same.”

The Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways was launched back in July, 2018 which called for applications from local authorities for greenways to be built up to 2021.

The last Government announcement on greenways was in June when Minister Ross and Minister of State, Brendan Griffin, announced funding for ten greenway projects around the country under Project Ireland 2040.

Included was €2.6m for the 21km stretch of the Connemara Greenway between Clifden and Recess. There was no mention of the greenway from Barna to Salthill, through the Claddagh, onto Ravens Terrace, along the Eglinton Canal, meeting the Connemara Greenway which begins at Dangan.

Spokesman for the Galway Urban Greenway Alliance, Tiernan McCusker, said the group together with a delegation of community organisations planned to meet with the City Chief Executive Brendan McGrath to see if any progress could be made on the project.

Deputy Connolly said she was “taken aback and disappointed” to learn that no provision had been made in the 2019 budget for the Barna greenway.

“And even more alarming was the reason given by Galway City Council – that the project was paused until a national strategy was developed. That strategy had already been published in July 2018, almost six months before the budget was agreed,” she fumed.

“The Barna Greenway is a vital piece of infrastructure and the rollout of same should be a matter of priority in keeping with government policy. The City Council has to show leadership and make provision for Barna Greenway in the 2020.”

The Alliance has been organising a family cycle between the Claddagh and Salthill every month to highlight the need for a safe and segregated walking route. The next cycle takes place this Sunday morning from Claddagh Hall at 11am.


€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara



How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan




The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham



Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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