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Connacht Tribune

Residents’ campaign fails as councillors approve social housing

Declan Tierney

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A major battle to prevent ten social houses from being built in a Ballinasloe estate failed this week after councillors voted by a large majority to allow the development to proceed.

It is now hoped the new homes will be completed and occupied by the end of the year.

But a number of Fianna Fail councillors, who voted against the €1.7 million development of the social housing scheme, have come in for some stinging criticism for their decision to oppose the provision of the new dwellings.

They have been accused of having no regard for those on the housing waiting list. “They should be ashamed of themselves,” remarked Cllr Pete Roche of Fine Gael.

This week members of Galway County Council were asked to approve planning for the ten houses in Garbally Drive, Ballinasloe. A total of 26 voted in favour of the houses going ahead, three were opposed while three councillors abstained.

A meeting of Galway County Council, at which some residents of Garbally Drive were present, was told that there were 332 families in the Ballinasloe area waiting to be housed. Of these, there are 63 requiring three-bedroom homes.

The 10 houses that are to be built in the estate will all be three-bedroom and it means that the housing waiting list in the area will be significantly reduced. Tenders for the development will be sought over the coming weeks.

The residents in Garbally Drive opposed the development of the houses amid concerns they had over potential flooding and that they may give rise to traffic problems in the estate.

They engaged a hydrologist and an engineer to examine the Council’s proposal for the housing.

In their submission to the Council, the residents were concerned about the presence of a turlough in the area and believed that this would contribute to the potential for flooding. They also said that a turlough is a natural habitat for wildlife.

But local Fine Gael councillor Michael Finnerty proposed that the social housing plan should be granted planning permission and was seconded by Cllr Dermot Connolly of Sinn Fein.

Cllr Finnerty said that he had inspected the hydrologist’s report and was satisfied that the development of housing would not cause a flooding problem in the estate.

As part of the social housing plan, four sides will be given over to the local Gaelscoil and Cllr Finnerty said that the development would provide homes for some good neighbours.

“All of the new occupants will be fully vetted and I am sure that the new home owners will have the height of respect for the dwellings that will be allocated to them,” he said.

However, Fianna Fail councillors Donal Burke from Ballinasloe, Tuam’s Donagh Killilea and Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council Cllr Michael Connolly voted against the plan. Their decision to do so has come in for some severe criticism.

Fine Gael’s Cllr Pete Roche said that he was ‘flabbergasted’ that three Fianna Fail councillors would vote against the plan.

“We have a huge housing crisis on our hands and for these councillors to try and deny families a home is absolutely disgraceful and they should be ashamed of themselves,” he told The Connacht Tribune.

He added that all three councillors were elected for the good of the people they represent and said that their decision to oppose social housing is “nothing short of mind-boggling”.

Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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