Two sites in County Galway have been suggested as suitable for halting sites to re-home Travellers from Galway City, who are currently living in overcrowded hardstands.
Galway Airport at Carnmore was flagged as a possible site for caravans to help solve the city’s Traveller accommodation shortage, which is said to be at crisis point.
A site in Oranmore, owned by Galway City Council, is another option being eyed-up by the local authority.
During a discussion on the mid-term review of Galway City’s Traveller Accommodation Plan (TAP), 2014-2018, a kite was flown about the possibility of using Galway Airport as a halting site.
Fine Gael City Councillor, Pearce Flannery said the facility was jointly owned by Galway City and County Councils and was currently “lying idle”.
Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said it was not true to say it was idle but Cllr Flannery insisted it was “radically underutilised” and would be ideal for a halting site.
Cllr Flannery told the special meeting that the Galway Airport site could be used as a short-to-medium term solution.
“This is not a Galway City problem. We need to deal with it in the context of our county counterparts,” he said.
Cllr Flannery urged Mr McGrath to liaise with Kevin Kelly, CE of Galway County Council, with a view to finding a city and county solution.
“I don’t agree with hardstands and never will,” said Cllr Flannery who said the long-term solution was “societal integration”.
Mr McGrath said that Galway Airport was “not properly zoned” to facilitate a halting site. And he pointed out that half of it was owned by the County Council.
“So, you have a problem,” he said, hinting that Cllr Flannery’s proposal might not find favour among Galway County Councillors.
Mayor of Galway, City Councillor Noel Larkin, said: “I don’t think Galway Airport will solve the problem. You can’t just take over the airport.”
Councillors were given a map and some detail about what the City Council has planned in terms of Traveller Accommodation at Carrowmoneesh in Oranmore.
A proposal for 10 caravan bays on the eight-hectare site off the N18, which is adjacent to Galway Metals and Deerpark and opposite Galway Business Park, was presented to City Councillors.
Mr McGrath said anything in Oranmore would require obtaining planning permission from the County Council, and subsequently An Bórd Pleanála.
Senior Executive Officer, Dermot Mahon, outlined how Traveller accommodation in the city is at “breaking point”.
Cúl Trá in Salthill is a six-bay halting site that is severely overcrowded with 18
caravans and 35 children living there.
The meeting heard how Cúl Trá is a fire hazard and an ‘Carrickmines’ in waiting – a reference to the tragedy in South Dublin where 10 Travellers including a young pregnant mother lost their lives at a fire in a halting site in 2015.
The ‘temporary’ halting site at Carrowbrowne has been there for eight years. The 13 families with 46 children are living on a site where planning permission has expired in December 2015.
Galway County Council has notified the City Council that it is an unauthorised development and “enforcement proceedings” are anticipated.
Mr Mahon outlined plans for five new halting sites at Keeraun in Knocknacarra, Westside, Headford Road, Merlin Park and Oranmore.
City Couniillors deferred approval of the mid-term review until the March 6 meeting.
Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!
A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!
The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.
“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!
“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!
“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.
The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.
They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.
“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.
Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site
A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.
A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.
Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.
It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.
“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”
Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.
“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.
“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.
Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.
“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.
“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.
“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.
“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.
“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.
Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.
“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.
Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island
Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.
The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.
According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.
As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.
Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.
Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.
A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.