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CITY TRIBUNE

Taoiseach ‘will pursue’ funding for Newcastle community centre

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government will pursue a funding model with Galway City Council to construct a proposed €3.8 million community centre for Newcastle.
In the Dáil last week, Mr Martin praised the Newcastle Combined Community Association and its chair, Seamus Davey, for their vision “to provide a first-class facility for their community”.
Planning permission was secured last year for a two-storey community centre adjacent to Croí House on Moyola Lane, which will also include a children’s playground, all-weather pitch and a sensory garden.
Locals raised more than €200,000 to get the project through the planning stage, and the City Council has since committed to provide €900,000 in funding, leaving a shortfall of €2.9m for construction.
The matter was raised by Galway West TD Noel Grealish in the Dáil, who said there are grants for nearly all sporting organisations through the sports capital programme and the large-scale sports infrastructure fund, but community centres seemed to fall outside any State support scheme.
He said there has long been a need for such a centre in Newcastle, an area where locals have been campaigning for 30 years and which has a population of more than 6,000 people.
“The project is now shovel-ready and awaiting funding to commence construction. It has the unanimous support of Galway City Council. The council will commit a minimum of €900,000 towards the €3.8 million building cost of the project. That leaves a shortfall of €2.9 million.
“There has long been a need for such a facility in the Newcastle and neighbouring Dangan areas, especially since the only hotel in the area, a focal point for the community, closed in recent years. It was demolished to make way for student accommodation.
“Bear in mind that the population of the area in question is similar to that of towns such as Ballinasloe, Fermoy, Westport and Roscommon that are well serviced with such facilities.
“I have been working with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, for the past number of months but he tells me there is no funding available for such a project. I know there are many demands on public funds, but will the Taoiseach give a commitment to set up a community centre fund that will provide financial support to the likes of the Newcastle Combined Community Association in order that it can build the much-needed community centre in question?
“I ask that something be done in the short term, not the long term. Do not kick this ball down the road. This area needs a community centre, as do, I am sure, many other areas throughout the country. I welcome the grant that was introduced during the pandemic, which was used to refurbish and repair many community centres.
“Why not make this a pilot project? Will the Taoiseach come back to the House in the short term with sort of proposal to allow us to build this much-needed facility?” asked Deputy Grealish.
The Taoiseach said there should be a capital fund for community centres and commended Deputy Grealish for “an audacious move” to secure a pilot project for Newcastle.
“I will talk to the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys, and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, again to see what we can do in conjunction with the local authority and to discover whether we can provide some supports for what has clearly been a project developed, from the ground, up by the community in Newcastle.
“The community activists and leaders there really have the vision to provide a first-class facility for their community.
“I will certainly pursue that with the Ministers involved to see whether, in conjunction with the local authority, we can do more to make sure that what is a shovel-ready project can actually be brought to fruition,” said Mr Martin.

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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