Residents of two estates off the Headford Road have expressed fears that vibrations from the installation of Irish Water meters could cause serious damage to existing pipes – because their homes are built on a swamp.
And two local councillors have claimed that sub-contractors arrived at Sandyvale Lawn and Suan last week to install meters – unaware of the area’s wetland nature or that old pipes and pumps had to be replaced ten years ago because they were sinking into the ground.
While Irish Water were aware of the situation in the area, Sinn Féin’s Mairéad Farrell claims the information was not passed on to meter installers.
Work has since stopped, and locals have now demanded a full report on the estates’ infrastructure and ground conditions.
Cllr Farrell said she contacted Irish Water on behalf of residents and informed them drilling had commenced – she explained the wetland foundation is unstable and that pipes are ‘scribbled’ across the estates.
“The estates were built on wetlands and therefore have special piping crisscrossing the area. Last week, I contacted Irish Water who told me that they were aware of this fact and had received a report detailing this from Galway City Council.
“However, I was distressed to hear that Sandyvale residents approached the sub-contractors installing the water meters and they were oblivious of this important information. The failure of Irish Water to inform its sub-contractors is a sign of its total incompetence.”
Meanwhile, local independent councillor Mike Cubbard expressed fears that vibrations caused by drilling could have adverse effects on pipes and impact negatively on the lives of residents.
“This is not about people paying or not paying their Irish Water bill. This is a health and safety issue. Residents were told that any major drilling in the area could have an effect on pipes and cause further damage, as they were effectively built on a swamp,” he said.
GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28
The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.
The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.
Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.
For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.
It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.
The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.
Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.
‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline
The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.
Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.
“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.
Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.
The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.
Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.
“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.
Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.
State cracks down on quick-buck landlords
New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.
From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.
The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.
City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).
“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.
The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.
This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.