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TD claims new Garda HQ in Galway is under-resourced

Stephen Corrigan



A Galway TD has said the new Garda regional HQ building opposite GMIT is ‘hollow’ because of a lack of officers available to staff it.

Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) said the West of Ireland is being neglected in allocations of new Garda recruits.

She slammed the Government’s approach to Garda allocations as figures from the Department of Justice revealed that County Galway received just 36 new Garda recruits between January 2015 and January 2019.

“I have been calling for an increase in our Garda force for some time. This Fine Gael Government has abandoned rural Ireland. The effects of their policies have a detrimental effect on my constituency as our Garda force is drip-fed new Garda personnel over the past four years.

“In rural Ireland, people can feel vulnerable and their concerns increase when they do not notice a Garda presence in the area,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

The TD for Galway East said as a member of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC), she was aware of the dearth of Gardaí in the Galway Division.

“To be fair to the Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, at every JPC that I have attended in the last five years, as a TD and as a councillor, he brings up the lack of Gardaí at every quarterly meeting – the man is operating on an absolute shoestring.

“The figures make for alarming reading. Only 36 new recruits have been assigned to the Galway Division since 2015. This is far from good enough,” she said.

Deputy Rabbitte said there was a total of 789 Garda recruits who passed out of Templemore in 2018 – and only 16 of those were allocated to Galway.

“I know there is a lot going on in Dublin and there has to be a focus there, but there also has to be a regional balance.

“This Government doesn’t understand anything that goes on beyond the Pale,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

Due to the lack of bodies, Deputy Rabbitte said a Garda stationed in Portumna was expected to cover everywhere from ‘Banagher Bridge out to the sea in Kinvara’ – something she said was unacceptable.

Furthermore, she said the new Divisional Headquarters at Murrough in Galway City was a ‘great investment’, but the four-storey building was ‘hollow’ due to the lack of Gardaí available to staff it.

“There have been great specialist units set up there like the Protective Services Unit [for the victims of sexual assault], but they pull sergeants and Gardaí into work in those and they’re not being replaced,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

This was a problem right along the Western seaboard and something that required the immediate attention of the Minister for Justice, she continued.

“There is a major lack of resources in the Western region. Despite having a new Divisional Headquarters in Galway, we have no Garda dog unit and low Garda levels. In the wider region, Mayo has only received 18 new recruits since 2015, and in Roscommon-Longford, only 18 were assigned.

“I will be raising my concerns with the Minister for Justice to ensure the western region gets its fair share of security resources,” said Deputy Rabbitte.


Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley



An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham



The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley



Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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