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CITY TRIBUNE

Succession of complaints about city’s ‘disgraceful’ roundabouts

Denise McNamara

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Galway City Council has been lambasted by councillors for starting landscape work on the “disgraceful” roundabouts in July in the middle of the tourist high season.

There was a succession of complaints about the state of the roundabouts at a meeting of Galway City Council. Councillor Frank Fahy (FG) declared them to be in the worst condition of any roundabouts in Ireland.

Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty said work on the Skerritt roundabout opposite the GMIT,  but it was very late in the season to begin the maintenance programme.

She pointed to the Oranmore roundabout which was under the control of Galway County Council. It was kept so immaculately in winter and summer it resembled a golf course, she enthused.

However, she praised the grass cutting across the city’s parks and open spaces in estates, which was the best it had been for a long time.

New machinery purchased by the council was ensuring that it was being carried out property, she claimed. This was echoed by Sinn Féin Cllr Cathal O’Conchúir who believed a lot of the complaints about the grass cutting were trivial, pointing out the Council had to cover a huge amount of acreage.

Fellow independent, Cllr Declan McDonnell said it was not a lawnmower that was needed for the Martin Roundabout opposite the Galway Clinic but a JCB. He recalled how a motorist had crashed into the middle of it and died, remaining undiscovered for two weeks until being spotted by somebody in a double decker bus.

Sinn Féin’s Mairéad Farrell said this roundabout was a traffic hazard. “I pass by it several times a day. It’s so high, I can’t see over it.”

Labour Councillor Billy Cameron said it was housing that was the biggest crux in the city.

“Families ending up homeless, adults couch surfing, that’s much more important to me than seeing roses on the roundabouts.”

The Director of Services for Transportation, Recreation, Amenity and Corporate Services, Tom Connell, said in an email to councillors on the day of the meeting that the local authority tendered out the maintenance work in two separate contracts for the 11 roundabouts due to the landscaping requirements and the need for traffic management on high speed roads.

The Council also sought tenders for grass cutting on the approach roads and grass margins.

Tenders were advertised in April and May and then had to be assessed. Negotiations were then undertaken with Council unions “as a number of issues had arisen”.

Once these were ironed out, the grass cutting work on the roundabouts kicked off at night on July 10.

City Chief Executive Officer Brendan McGrath said while he shared some of the councillors’ frustrations, it was wrong to be using phrases like “Galway is in a shambles”.

He said since the Council invested in new equipment, never has there been so few complaints from residents at estates or those who used playing pitches.

“We were using some equipment dating back to 2002. There was no investment since the recession,” he revealed.

He said the council had undergone a negotiation with staff over contracting out the work as the local authority was unable to comply with the health and safety requirements on the higher speed roundabouts. This involved some compensation to workers.

In other local authority areas, grass in estates was not cut by the Council, yet in Galway it was common practice, he said.

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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