One of the most renowned war correspondents in the world is coming to Galway at the end of this month to address a two day conference which explores the issue of Irish neutrality during World War Two.
Journalist and author Robert Fisk, who is based in Beirut, was delighted to take part in ‘The Emergency: Ireland in Wartime’ conference when asked to do so by staff from the History Department at NUI Galway.
Although Fisk is best known for his frontline reports from conflicts in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Palestine, Iran and Iraq, the English-born writer is also an expert on Irish history during the 1939 to 1945 period.
Fisk (now 67) wrote a thesis about the relationship between Ireland and Britain during what was known as ‘The Emergency’ in this country when he completed a PhD in Political Science at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1983. His research inspired Fisk to write a book called ‘In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster, and The Price of Neutrality’, which is still seen as one of the most insightful books about the period 30 years on.
Voted International Journalist of the Year seven times, he will deliver the main speech of the conference – which is open to members of the public – at the Radisson Blue Hotel on Friday, June 27 (8pm). Fluent in Arabic, he has been the Middle East correspondent for The Independent for over two decades and is one of the most highly regarded war reporters in the English-speaking world.
Although best known for his expertise in the Middle East, his speech in Galway will only cover the issue of Ireland during the period 1939 to 1945. “As soon as we approached Robert, he was very amenable to coming over,” said Sean Ó Duibhir, a member of the organising committee.
“He did write what is considered to be the seminal work on Irish neutrality during this period, a book which academics continually refer back to when discussing what became known as ‘The Emergency’.” The conference has been organised in advance of the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, with events, talks and film screenings taking place at NUI Galway over two days.
Events over the weekend of June 27 and 28 include a screening of ‘The Enigma of Frank Ryan’, a film relating to an Irish left-wing activist who was captured during the Spanish Civil War before being transferred to Berlin by the Nazi regime.
An exhibition, in conjunction with the Donegal County Museum, will give attendees a flavor of what life was like for ordinary Irish people during the Second World War, when rationing was implemented by the Government.
The conference takes place in the new Conference Centre at the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Research Building at NUI Galway, near the main library. Those who intend to attend Dr Fisk’s talk on the 27th are urged to get to the hotel in advance of the start time. The conference is being organised by Dr Mary Harris, Dr Mark Philbin and Sean Ó Duibhir of the History Department at NUI Galway.
Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction
Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.
A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.
Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.
“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.
“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.
Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.
Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.
“We need to put some science on this.
“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.
Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.
He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.
“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.
“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.
Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.
“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.
Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags
Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.
This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.
One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.
“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.
He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.
“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.
Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.
“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.
“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.
He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.
“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.
Boil water notice issued for Barna area
A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes
The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.
The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.
The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.
Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.
Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.
Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.
In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.