Galway City Council has spent €265,000 over the last five years impounding stray horses without recouping a penny.
The scourge of horses being illegally kept in city estates means that ratepayers are being forced to cough up over €50,000 a year to get them rounded up.
Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty said the money was a complete waste of resources. What was more infuriating was the fact that not a single euro has been recouped from the Department of Agriculture by the city council, when Galway County Council are recouping €450 for each lift.
“In 2013 Galway County Council recouped €150,000 from a total expenditure of €180,000 paid out in respect of impounding horses,” she remarked.
“It seems incredible that Galway City Council have failed to recoup a single euro in the last five years, despite Galway County Council being reimbursed €450 per lift.
“This needs to be fully explained, as the only explanation forthcoming is that the system for impounding horses in the city did not fall within the framework of the recoupment scheme and the burden therefore again falls on the hard pressed ratepayer.”
Galway County Council provides a round the clock service for the lifting of horses. The Renmore councillor said she will be urging city officials to meet with their counterparts in Galway County Council to discuss the setting up of a similar system.
“I will be seeking answers from City Manager Brendan McGrath as to why the City Council are failing to recoup any monies and I will also be asking him to explain the continued failure of the City Council to stamp out the keeping of horses in city housing estates which is totally unacceptable.”
The grass in some of these estates does not require cutting due to the number of horses being allowed to graze on the open spaces, particularly on the east side of the city which appears to be suffering the most from this situation.
“This would not be tolerated in other more affluent parts of the city,” she insisted.
Last July, Galway City Council passed a motion which called for the eviction of local authority tenants who keep houses in their back gardens. The keeping of horses in housing estates was banned, but a spokesman said it was impossible for local authority staff to monitor what was happening in city estates 24 hours per day.
“We are at present working with other local authorities in the West region on a collaborative tendering process for impounding services, in order to establish if this will enable the Council to reduce its costs in this area,” stated the director of services for housing, Joe O’Neill.
Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road
Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.
This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.
It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.
During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.
Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.
While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.
Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.
Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.
In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.
Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.
“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.
“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.
“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.
The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.
Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.
(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)
New fire station for Athenry gets stamp of approval
Councillors have given their stamp of approval to a new fire station for Athenry – voting unanimously to grant planning for the development at Ballygarraun South.
The site of just under two acres, located between the new Presentation College and the railway line, will house a station as well as a training tower and parking.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Duffy told a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week that they hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of October, with works to get underway soon afterwards.
“We have worked very hard to get this project to a tangible position and it’s great that the ‘Part 8’ planning application [one which requires a vote by councillors] has been adopted today,” said Mr Duffy.
“This will hopefully get underway this year and we can move on to other stations [in the county], with another one planned for next year and another the year after,” he added.
The plans include the construction of a 361 square metre fire station with finishing materials common to the area which ‘will link the development on the site to the context overall’.
Permission has been granted from the IDA, which owns the site, for Galway County Council to proceed with the development on their lands.
The meeting heard that consideration had been given to the sightlines for exiting fire trucks and that amendments had been made to the original plans to ensure they were adequate.
Local area councillor Gabe Cronnelly (Ind) said the progression of a new fire station for the town was hugely welcome, adding that it had been years in the making.
“We have to give huge credit to Paul Duffy who pursued this. Athenry is one of the busiest stations in the county. We secured an extension for the existing station six years ago and when the Department was granting that, they could see that, from the amount of calls it was getting, that a new station was justified,” said Cllr Cronnelly.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she was ‘delighted’ that the area’s representatives had given the proposal their unanimous backing.
Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure
Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.
Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.
During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.
A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.
He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.
The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.