A massive tree-planting project on the east side of the city could be uprooted after Galway City Council ruled it is considered to be an unauthorised development in an area with protected views.
Last month, volunteers came together to help to plant up to 1,000 trees at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ in Rosshill.
However, locals claimed that the trees would block a protected view of the sea and of Roscam Round Tower, which is an early medieval monastic site and a National Monument.
The Council subsequently issued Warning Letters in relation to the “unauthorised tree planting on lands at Rosshill Road”.
“There is a Protected View, Protected Structures and a number of National Monuments listed in the vicinity.”
The letters were served on the secretary of Seafront Farm Ltd, Mad Yoke Farm Ltd, both with addresses in Sceilig Ard on the Headford Road and the secretary of Sunmile Ltd, with an address at Mill Street.
The Council is expected to compel the owner of the land to return it to its original state.
Brian Dilleen officially opened Mad Yolk farm at the end of last month with a mass planting session of 1,000 native Oak, Hawthorn, Hazel, Birch, Rowan, Scots Pine and Crab Apple trees.
Following an internship on a small mixed enterprise farm in Sweden, the Newcastle man bought two four-acre plots in the area three years ago to set up his own chemical-free organic farm.
His plans also included a no-dig market garden, which he hopes can provide organic food for over 100 locals residents.
Galway City Council issued the Warning Letters under Section 152 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, ordering that the planting of trees cease and “discontinue any unauthorised development forthwith”.
The company secretaries who were served with the notice have been given until the middle of this month to make a submission to the local authoeriry.
The Council stated that there was a protected view, protected structures and a number of national monuments located in the vicinity of the planted land.
“In the event of you failing to comply with the terms of this warning letter, Galway City Council may, where it considers that unauthorised development has been, is being, or may be carried out, withing 12 weeks of service of this letter, issue an enforcement notice,” the letter reads.
Mr Dilleen has argued that his trees did not constitute a development and that the Council would normally ignore a case of this type.
He told the Galway City Tribune that the controversial trees had been planted in order to create a mixed species hedge which would act as a wind breaker for the farm, running parallel to the view of the sea.
“You hear 1,000 trees and it paints a certain picture,” added farm manager Joe Gray.
“We planted a Hawthorn hedgerow at the back of our second field facing the Atlantic to create a new habitat for wildlife and plug in the gaps of the existing barrier of brambles,” he said.
“Behind this we planted a windbreak of shrubs and native trees sourced from the charity ‘Trees on the Land’.
“Unfortunately – and we’re sure through misunderstanding of our aims and perhaps the wording of our Facebook event – someone from the local community complained to the Council that we were planting 1,000 trees and creating a woodland in a vicinity with a protected view.
“As was written in the Facebook event, the planned planting had taken into consideration the protected view of the nearby Round Tower and had been planned with respect to our neighbours,” Mr Gray stated.
The two men argued that their open farm would enhance the protected view of Roscam Round Tower and the sea, which they claim is currently not visible from the walkway. They also stressed that they were committed to providing a meaningful resource to the local community.
“Most of that number (of trees) made up the one hedgerow of Hawthorn and only a further 140 trees were planted for the windbreak, both in the same place that isn’t near to the view in question, which will provide our field with some relief from the wild Atlantic wind,” said Mr Gray.
“Furthermore, we looked out from the public road where this view is supposed to be, and the sea and Round Tower can’t even be seen because of an existing hedgerow.
“With our open-farm policy, we’re happy to have people come into our land which has a very good view of both. We’re sure that planting a hedge on agriculturally-zoned land is not an issue for the Council to waste time on and apologise for our part in it.”
However, Roscam-based councillor Alan Cheevers said people needed to adhere to planning laws relating to protected views and structures
“If it’s a case that there’s a protected view notice on a portion of land, that view would have to be adhered to for the locals,” he told the Galway City Tribune.
“We have to respect residents. We have laws surrounding the planning and protection of views and heritage sites, and we have to respect that and work within the confines of the law,” he added.
(Photo: Volunteers planting the trees last month at Mad Yolk Farm in Rosshill against the backdrop of Galway Bay.)
Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra
An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.
Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.
The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.
It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.
Larkin and McDonnell out as Frankeen ‘Pacts’ punch!
Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley
The first City Council meeting since the summer recess took place last Monday in Leisureland. There were few raised voices or rows; a sedate affair, it was more straightforward than usual for the start of a new term.
It was as if city councillors were keeping their powder dry. Now we know why.
An hour after the Council meeting ended, the ruling pact’s mayoral agreement disintegrated in a blazing row. And a new pact has now been formed, but not with the combination of councillors that everyone expected.
It’s complicated. But the shenanigans that led to the creation of a new rainbow coalition, with a distinctly Blue(shirt)-hue, gives an insight into the cut-throat nature of local politics, and the rat-like cunning that’s needed to negotiate a path to power.
The collapse of the existing pact [Noel Larkin, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab), Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy (Green)] has its roots in a dispute about Travellers.
After that house near Carnmore, bought by the City Council and earmarked for Travellers, was razed by fire, Larkin gave an interview on local radio, which irked Niall Murphy, a newbie to politics.
Murphy contacted all pact members, denouncing Larkin’s GBFM performance in a cutting email that sailed close to the wind. Larkin was livid. And attempts by pact members to placate him didn’t work.
So, twelve days after pressing ‘send’ on the explosive email, Murphy met Larkin face-to-face at the pact meeting on Monday evening in the Galway Bay Hotel. Fireworks ensued. The exact details of the barbed exchanges are sketchy but what is clear is that when McDonnell and Larkin left, the five who remained in the room, (two pact members were absent) knew the pact was finished.
Larkin and McDonnell had indicated they would negotiate with Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare) and Fianna Fáil (Mike Crowe, Imelda Byrne, Peter Keane, John Connolly, Alan Cheevers).
Those tripartite talks proceeded, and by late Monday, the rainbow pact members had conceded that power had slipped from their grasp.
They hadn’t signed on it, but the prevailing wisdom – among all sides – was that a new FF/FG/Larkin/McDonnell pact would emerge on Tuesday.
Not so fast, said Frankeen Fahy. Unhappy that FG was getting just one mayor in that scenario, he contacted the crestfallen rainbow pact members with an offer – they could keep their Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and deputy mayoral positions already agreed under the previous pact, but give FG two mayors.
The kingmaker was Donal Lyons. The ‘King of Knocknacarra’ forfeited being mayor in return for remaining on as chair of an SPC, and becoming deputy mayor instead.
One last attempt was made by FG to coalesce with FF, but the Soldiers of Destiny refused to budge on a second mayor, and insisted on one each for FF/FF/Ind. Meanwhile, overtures were made between FF and the Greens, but Larkin was a stumbling block to an alternative pact.
The upshot of the wheeling and dealing is a new pact (O’Flaherty, Lyons, Cubbard, Connolly, McNelis, O’Connor, Murphy, Hoare, Fahy, and Higgins). Fine Gael are the big winners at the expense of Larkin, McDonnell, and Fianna Fáil, who once again in City Council pact negotiations grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.
(Photo: Cllr Noel Larkin)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.
The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.
The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.
According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.
The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.
“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.
According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.
Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.
This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.
When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.