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CITY TRIBUNE

Three-storey extension approved for city school

Enda Cunningham

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Our Lady’s College on Presentation Road is set for a major expansion, after Galway City Council approved plans for a three-storey extension.

Last December, Ceist Ltd (the Catholic Education and Irish Schools Trust) sought permission for the new extension, which will include space for three classrooms, a new science lab, business studies room, technology rooms, preparation rooms and toilets.

Planners have approved the application, but ordered that a conservation architect and an archaeologist must monitor all works to any protected structure on site.

A full archaeological assessment must be carried out before any sub-surface works take place.

The Council also ordered that a full construction and excavation management plan, as well as traffic management plans, hours of construction and noise, dust, odour and vibration mitigation plans be prepared and agreed with the local authority.

Protection measures for the Eglinton Canal and a landscaping scheme must also be submitted to the Council.

At the moment, the school – the amalgamation of the Presentation and Mercy secondary schools – also operates from the old Mercy building at Newtownsmyth.

Ceist said Our Lady’s College would have a long-term enrolment is estimated at 420 students. An evaluation carried out in 2014 found existing accommodation of 4,386 square metres, with a requirement for an additional 2,058 sq m to cater for a school population of 500 pupils.

The existing planning application is for 1,127 sq m, and there is a new PE hall planned in a second phase.

“Our Lady’s College currently operate daily on both school sites and will continue to do so until the proposed building extension is completed. This is a very unsatisfactory position from the school’s standpoint and continues to create significant issues with timetabling, staffing and integration.”

To combat parking and traffic issues, the school said that drop-off in the vicinity of the school will be “discouraged” and it is trying to arrange a Park ‘n’ Stride scheme with the Council, whereby participating parents could park free for an hour each morning and evening and Mill Street carpark.

During the planning process, environmental group An Taisce expressed concerns about the PE hall which will be included in a future phase and the negative impact it would have on the canal’s ‘wildlife corridor’.

The group also voiced concerns about traffic volumes, adding it was unrealistic to expect an increase in pupil numbers and reduction in parent drop-offs outside the school.

It said the entrance gate is close to a blind bend, and the road is already extremely busy when there are funerals and weddings at the nearby St Joseph’s church.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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