Residents along one of the main arteries into Tuam are demanding the completion of a long-running road widening project in advance of the opening of the new stretch of motorway later this year.
Householders in the Kilbannon area say that their road will be a potential death trap as it is anticipated that it will be taking a huge amount of additional traffic when the new Gort to Tuam motorway opens.
And they have warned that, unless a stretch of the road coming into town is widened, it will also become extremely dangerous for motorists.
Several years ago a stretch from the old sugar factory on the Ballygaddy Road to Kilbannon was widened and local residents say that they were told that there would be another phase of road widening in advance of the new motorway being opened up.
But residents’ spokesman Paschal Mannion said that he had been informed by Galway County Council engineers that the road further out would not be widened and that just four inches of tar would be laid on the existing surface.
“This is completely unacceptable. When the motorway near Tuam opens, this road is going to carry a huge amount of additional traffic and it is simply not safe to do so.
“Anyone who travels along this road on a regular basis know full well that it is very dangerous with lethal bends and a very uneven surface. A further road widening programme is essential before the motorway and bypass of Tuam is opened,” Mr Mannion said.
But Director of Services for Roads with Galway County Council Michael Timmins told The Connacht Tribune that the funds were not in place for a full realignment of this stretch.
He agreed that when the motorway opens that it will generate more traffic along this road and said that this would probably increase the chances of it becoming a priority for realignment.
Mr Timmins said that works would be carried out to improve the surface of this stretch of road but budgetary constraints prevented the Council from carrying out the works that local residents are seeking.
The residents are referring in particular to the stretch from Duddy’s pub in Kilbannon to Kilconly GAA pitch which is around a half mile in distance and said that this is a particularly dangerous section.
Last weekend locals held a protest at a monument which was erected in memory of a young motorist who lost his life over ten years ago along this stretch of road. They intend to take their campaign into the offices of Galway County Council.
The Kilbannon Concerned Citizens group say that traffic on this road will intensify later on in the year as it will provide access onto the new motorway. Around 60 local residents have signed a petition calling for the road to be widened.
“We are deeply disappointed to hear the news that the road from Duddy’s pub to the football pitch is not going to be widened now. We have learned that Galway County Council has received a large grant to upgrade this road.
“But instead of starting to widen the road, what they plan to do is lay four inches of tar on top of it. This is a dangerous stretch of road. A young man lost his life there in 2006.
“It is already a busy road as it serves the local Kilbannon National School and the football pitch. When the motorway opens, it will attract a lot more traffic and particularly from South Mayo,” Mr Mannion added.
He said that there are several young families in the area and that it is not safe for them to walk or cycle to school. He said that when the motorway opens, this road, which is the main road from Tuam to Ballinrobe, will become a death trap.
Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’
Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.
The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.
Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.
An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.
Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.
“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.
“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.
“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.
“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.
“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”
(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!
Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.
Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.
“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.
The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.
Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea
Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.
County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.
In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.
“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.
He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.
Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.