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Residents fail to prevent go-ahead of new pastoral centre



Residents in Bushypark have failed in their efforts to prevent the construction of a new pastoral centre beside the local church – they felt that it would have an adverse impact on the church which is a protected structure.

The residents also questioned the merits of providing a pastoral centre given the fact that there are only two Masses in St James’ Church, one on a Saturday evening and the other on a Sunday morning.

It was also argued that the local GAA sports centre provides facilities for the youth while the national school has a community hall, funded by the residents, that can play host to several local events.

According to the residents the former presbytery was sold without consultation with the local community and this could have accommodated a pastoral centre without the need for a new building to dominate and impact on the church and graveyard.

However, St James’ Parish Council have been given the green light to build the new pastoral centre as the appeal by local residents to An Bord Pleanala has failed.

The appeal was lodged by Bushypark Parishioners Group who argued that the proposed pastoral centre is much too big for the site and will be out of character with the church which is a protected structure.

Earlier this year city planners gave the go-ahead to St James’ Parish Council for the construction of the pastoral centre along with the renovation of the church which includes a new porch, new stained glass windows, the replacement of slates and other modifications.

Permission was granted subject to 10 mainly standard conditions being complied with. One of them requires the Parish Council to outline what the pastoral centre will be used for.

Residents expressed a series of concerns about the proposals, while environmental group An Taisce said that while the repairs to the church should be permitted it urged thay the pastoral centre be refused.

When the planning application initially came before Galway City Council, it was opposed by An Taisce while 10 residents – two with addresses in Sligo and Inis Mór – along with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (the former National Roads Authority) also objected to the proposal.

City planners approved the revised application for an 830 square foot pastoral centre (around two-thirds the size of the 1,300 sq ft one originally planned) and restoration and renovation works to St James’ Church. Proposed alterations to the choir gallery were dropped.

The residents, who lodged an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, argued that there is insufficient car parking at the proposed development. They have also questioned the need for a pastoral centre as there is an existing hall nearby.

They also informed the Planning Appeals Board that the view from the Grotto will be obscured from the pastoral building and have also expressed concerned over what the facility will be used for.

They stated that the proposed treatment plant would be close to the existing entrance and graveyard while enclosing the area in a cage system, as was proposed, would be “unsightly and a health hazard”.

The Bushypark Parishioners Group were also opposed to the felling of mature trees and said that details were unclear as to the applicants’ proposals with regards to existing trees within the site and their protection.

“The pastoral centre is premature pending the determination of the (city) by-pass route,” it was further argued.

However, their appeal failed to win the support of An Bord Pleanála and permission was granted for the pastoral centre.


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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