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Salthill and Silverstrand beaches retain coveted ‘Blue Flag’ status

Denise McNamara

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Beaches in Salthill and Silverstrand retained their Blue Flags and Green Coast awards despite major difficulties in recent years which could have seen them demoted.

Vandals destroyed two sets of toilets along the Prom last November and replacements have so far not been built while Galway City Council waited to settle an insurance claim.

Toilets are seen as a crucial element in securing a coveted Blue Flag awarded by the environmental watchdog An Taisce and are regarded by tourists and visitors alike as a signal a beach is both safe to swim in with adequate facilities.

Repair works are being tendered for and it is expected the toilets at Blackrock and Ladies Beach will be reopened at the end of June. This weekend, the Council is installing temporary toilets to facilitate bathers and walkers in the interim.

Silverstrand was badly damaged by the ferocious storms of Winter 2013 and had to undergo significant work in order to return it to its original condition.

Both beaches have managed to retain their Blue Flags every year since first getting the award in 2006. They are among just six of the 81 beaches awarded to be conferred with dual status after retaining the national Green Coast award. These awards are given to areas classified as “exceptional places to visit”.

Portmarnock, Portrane and Donabate in north Dublin, Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway and Rosses Point in Sligo have secured this “dual status”

It had been a decade since the beaches had got the environmental seal of approval and came two years after Mutton Island sewage treatment plant was opened.

Grattan Beach in the Claddagh and Ballyloughane Beach in Renmore were ineligible for Blue Flag status this year, the former due to the lack of public conveniences and the latter for water quality.

Bathing is banned at Ballyloughane Beach for all of 2015 due to the results of water samples from 2011 to 2014.  Irish Water and the Council are working together to ensure that the beach can be reopened to swimmers in 2016.

In an update last February, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty said work had been carried out on the Michael Collins Combined Storm Outflow (CSO), but substantial required was still required for the Beech Avenue CSO requires substantial works and investment. The Murrough outfall required a more detailed examination.

County Galway’s five beaches retained their Blue Flags for the coming bathing season.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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