It is not acceptable that rural areas are allowed to decline while parents of young children commute long distances into already over-crowded cities.
That’s according to the Managing Director of Supermac’s, Pat McDonagh, who has called on Government to identify the places of strategic economic importance and focus incentive on them.
“Population statistics emerging from the earliest returns of the 2016 census suggest a huge concentration of people in cities with an almost equally large population commuting to these cities every day,” he said.
“This is entirely unsustainable. It is destroying family life and forcing people into hostile living environments. One of the best examples of progressive, proactive planning was establishment of the Shannon Free Zone. The idea was simple and yet hugely successful,” he added.
The Galway businessman said that the reality was the closer you were to major city, the more likely it was that you will get planning – and he said that had to change.
Mr McDonagh highlighted what he called three fundamental aspects of society which he said were vital to humanity and which he said must be fostered at local level where people feel pride and ownership.
He cited these as the need for emphasis on culture, the need to support a spirit of innovation and the need to incentivise economic investment in areas where population is in decline.
Mr McDonagh asked councillors and officials to review their development strategies in order to ensure that industry, which could as easily locate in a rural town as it could in a city, be given every support and incentive to do so.
Addressing the issue of the closure of Garda Stations, Post Offices and Schools in rural areas Mr. McDonagh said “I would suggest very strongly that this decline is not social in context. People have not changed all that much.
“It is economic in context and it is derived from an investment strategy which is perverse, out of step with human needs and is a paradox to what it means to be Irish.
“That investment strategy is driven in turn by policies which are derived from the thinking which was key to our economic development in the 1960s but which I would suggest to you has actually succeeded too well and needs to be reviewed.
“Elected members of Local Authorities, are some of the few people empowered to turn economic decline around as they are the Government in their own county or city. They decide planning policy though each development plan,” Mr. McDonagh said.
Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash
A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.
The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.
Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them.
Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra
Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.
The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.
A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.
“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.
“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”
Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’
Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.
At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.
A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.
Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.
“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.
With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.
“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.
The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.
Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.
Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.
The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.
Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.
A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.
“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.