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Survey finds two-thirds of dumping fines unpaid

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Two thirds of all fines issued by Galway County Council for illegal dumping and littering remain unpaid.

The figures also reveal that on average, a quarter of all illegal dumping fines issued by the local authority are cancelled, although there were huge variances depending on which part of the county the fines were issued.

The shock figures have led to calls for the Council to take a tougher stance on litterers who feel they can get away with blighting the countryside.

A county councillor has called on the Council to ‘name and shame’ illegal dumpers by posting CCTV photographs of culprits online.

Just 38% of the 746 litter fines issued by the Council during 2014 and 2015 were paid.

The rest of the fines issued were either cancelled by the Council (28%) or remain to be paid by the perpetrator (34%).

The data was released to Adhmhaidin, the morning current affairs programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Community wardens in some parts of the county were busier issuing litter fines than they were in others.

It showed 42% or 152 of the 355 total litter fines issued across County Galway in 2015 were for illegal dumping in Connemara, while 14% (52) were in Athenry/Oranmore municipal district; 13% (46) were in Ballinasloe; 11% (40) were in Loughrea; and 18% (65) were in Tuam.

There was a large variance in whether fines were cancelled, depending on what part of the county illegal dumpers were fined.

In Ballinasloe, some 15% of all litter fines issued were cancelled by the Council but it was more than twice that percentage (38%) for those who were issued with fines for dumping in Tuam.

The level of cancelled fines was 19% in Athenry/Oranmore, 26% in Connemara, and 20% in Loughrea.

A Council spokesperson explained that one of the reasons more than one in every four litter fines is cancelled is because the culprits are caught by identifying vehicle number plates on CCTV but their addresses do not match.

The Council confirmed that some 133 (37%) fines for illegal dumping remain unpaid by the culprits.

It said that five people were found guilty for non-payment of fines and one person paid the dumping fine one the Council took legal proceeding for non-payment.

A further six individuals are being brought before the courts for non-payment, and they are awaiting a trial date.

Connemara county councillor, Tom Healy (SF) said the local authority should be more proactive in pursuing illegal dumpers and enforcing fines.

“To have 62% of fines unpaid causes serious issues in terms of how much weight the threat of enforcement for littering carries in the county. If persons guilty of illegal dumping feel they will not suffer the consequences of their actions, then communities and the environment will suffer for this. Illegal dumping costs the local authority and the taxpayer and imposes a burden on already overstretched budgets,” he said.

Councillor Healy added: “I can understand that there may be issues associating car registration plates and the guilty individuals where addresses do not match up, but where this is the case, we must up the ante to catch these people in the act. I have argued previously that we employ new portable camera technology to catch these individuals in the act at known dumping blackspots.

“This technology can send photos immediately to Gardaí and local authority staff so that we can try and apprehend the person leaving the scene. Galway County Council should also follow Dublin City Council’s lead and publish all photos of individuals caught on camera on their website. People who engage in illegal dumping have no regard for the wellbeing of their fellow citizens and should be shamed as such.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday

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A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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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