A 20 years old man died instantly when the scrambler bike he was using – which had no brakes or lights – crashed into metal cabling in the grounds of NUIG last summer, an inquiry into his death heard.
The pathologist, who carried out a post mortem examination after the crash, said that the fatal injuries would not have been apparent to ambulance staff at the scene.
Martin McDonagh, of 12 Tulach Ard, Circular Road, was with his brother, Tommy, and other friends when the accident occurred at the NUIG playing fields in Dangan on July 31 last year.
The Inquest heard that Tommy had purchased the 250cc Kawasaki scrambler bike online from the website adverts.ie. It was priced at €150, but he had struck a deal with the seller to accept an exchange of motorbikes instead. He felt it had been a good move, he said, as his bike, a 150cc Lincon, would not even start.
He, his brother, and friends tried it out in their estate, and then went to nearby Carn Ard. However, they were concerned that they would be reported to Gardaí, so decided to go somewhere that they would not be seen.
They wheeled the bike over to Dangan Sportsground, and again they took turns driving the bike up and down the pitch.
Tommy recalled that it was dark when Martin took off again on another go, then he heard a noise, and saw the netting of the goalposts fall. His brother was lifeless on the ground.
He rang his father, Anthony, straight away. Anthony and his wife were in bed when they received the call and had not realised how serious the situation was. They contacted Gardaí, and went straight to the scene.
Martin’s mother, Mary, said that it took longer for the emergency services to arrive than her son who came from Ballybane, and she said they went through the motions in a bid to save him, but that she knew it was too late.
The paramedics actually happened to be on duty in Loughrea at the time, and did not arrive until 11.01pm. They parked at the barrier into the private grounds and made their way to the casualty on foot. They found Martin McDonagh with significant facial trauma.
Garda Sandra Waldron said that the whole area was in darkness but for the lights from the mobile phones of those at the scene. She noted a strong metal cable securing an ESB pole which she believed had caused Mr McDonagh’s fatal injuries.
He was taken to nearby UHG, where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight on August 1.
PSV Inspector, Sgt Anthony McHugh, examined the motorbike later that day and stated that it had no registration plates, no lights, no brakes, and had numerous defects. He concluded that it was in a dangerously defective condition at the time of the accident.
Consultant Pathologist, Dr Aoife Canney, carried out the post mortem examination on the remains, and found that the blood/ethanol level in his system would have put him well over the legal limit to drive had he been on the public road.
She said that the victim had suffered multiple traumatic injuries to his head and agreed with the Coroner that injuries of this severity would lead to instantaneous death.
“A lot of the injuries were not apparent until I performed an internal examination,” she added.
Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence that death was due to cardiac arrest caused by severe traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle collision.
He recorded the date of death as July 31, even though Mr McDonagh had not actually been pronounced dead until the following day, and the place of death as NUIG sportsground.
He offered his sincere sympathies to the young man’s family and friends on the tragic and untimely circumstances of his death.
Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site
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.
NUIG student accommodation firm records loss
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.
Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan
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.