The Union of Students Ireland has defended its members in Galway over comments made by the city’s mayor branding drunken students an “embarrassment”.
Mayor Frank Fahy – as reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune – said drunken students were an embarrassment and a disgrace; and their alcohol-fuelled parties were causing nightmares for residents.
Mayor Fahy said a mayor of a sister city of Galway’s had remarked to him recently that “Galway has a serious issue with alcohol and you need to address it”. He made the comments at the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting.
But local student leaders are “disgusted” by the comments, which they say perpetuate a false stereotype. Feidhlim Seoighe, USI Vice President for the Border Midlands and Western area, has demanded the Mayor withdraw his comments and focus instead on the wider problem of alcohol abuse.
“There is, without a doubt, a problem within the Irish psyche surrounding alcohol, but this attack is typical: blame all of these problems on the students. In fact, it is quite the opposite, as the Mayor will find that most of the student population is hard working and studious,” said Mr Seoighe, who is from Renmore.
He pointed out that the city’s reputation is built on the late-night entertainment industry providing hundreds of jobs to the local economy. Many students are working in the hospitality sector here, he said.
“The student unions of NUIG and GMIT raise thousands of euro every year for local charities, and student societies from both colleges do incredible work,” he said.
Mr Seoighe said students from GMIT organised a project last week to highlight the plight of refugees from Syria by enclosing eight people in a shipping container for 24 hours.
He pointed out that NUIG Rover Society have collected over 1,100 sleeping bags for the homeless from general collections, and festivals such as Electric Picnic. The students of NUIG are organising the biggest technology conference in the country, outside of Dublin, on campus this week.
Mr Seoighe added: “I would call on the Mayor to withdraw his comments, and to look at the wider picture regarding alcohol abuse in Ireland, and not to always take the stereotypical view that student’s are the source of this issue.”
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.