A Government backbencher has described new proposals for the N6 Galway City Transport Project as “madness” and called for focus to revert to the original Galway City Outer Bypass (GCOB) route.
Six route options for the new city ring road are being considered and as many as 130 homes and some businesses may have to be demolished under the plans, which could cost up to €750 million.
Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh said Menlo and Barna villages would be damaged or destroyed under the proposals, and landmarks such as Ballybrit Racecourse would be substantially compromised.
He wants planners to scrap the new routes and go back to a variation of the old bypass route. Several city councillors at Monday’s meeting argued the same, but the official leading the project, senior engineer Michael Timmins of Galway County Council, says the old route was rejected in the courts and cannot be used again because it will be rejected again.
“The original bypass was stopped because it threatened to damage bog cotton,” said Deputy Walsh, “but there appears to be no such reservations about bulldozing people’s homes.
“The routes that have now been presented are utterly outlandish. They would destroy villages, homes, and public amenities; steamrolling the city and plunging it into chaos for years during construction,” said Deputy Walsh.
“On top of that, the projected costs associated with these routes are completely unfeasible. A variation of the original GCOB that could be progressed under IROPI would present an alternative that could be completed quicker and at a fraction of the cost of what is now being proposed,” he said.
The IROPI planning process allows authorities to apply for permission to develop infrastructure notwithstanding its impact on environmentally sensitive sites where there are Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI).
“It is preposterous that we’re talking about putting people out of their homes for the sake of a small area of limestone paving and some bog cotton. This has to be about people, not plants or paving,” added Deputy Walsh.
Speaking after public consultation meetings, Mr Timmins explained that it was not possible to revisit the ‘old’ route as part of the new proposals for a bypass.
He said if the old route is resubmitted, it would once again be rejected out of hand by European and Irish courts. It’s a non-runner, he said, which is why the Council has come up with five new route corridors.
“You cannot use the old route because the old route has been rejected by the Supreme Court on foot of an opinion from the European Court and you cannot come back with the old route again or it will be rejected by the courts again,” insisted Mr Timmins. He said they were forced to examine new routes in order to prove that they had exhausted all avenues.
“An Bórd Pleanála rejected the western wing of the bypass from the N59 to the R336 at Barna, and the Supreme quashed the remainder of the route. The problem is, if you wish to go forward with a new route where you want to use the process of getting the opinion of the European Commission to support your route, you must show it is the least damaging alternative.
“You cannot just pick a route and say to the European Court, ‘please give us an opinion to allow us to build on this’. No, they’ll say ‘you shouldn’t be here at all, you shouldn’t have damaged the environment’. So you must examine other options to the old route.”
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.
Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.
It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.
The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.
Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.
In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.
This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.
Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.
It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.
Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.
Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.
“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.
He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.
Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.
In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.
“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.
(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)
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.