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CITY TRIBUNE

Varadkar calls for vote on directly-elected Mayor for Galway

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Galway City Hall

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has proposed a vote to have a directly-elected Mayor for Galway in an attempt to “radically democratise” local government.

Mr Varadkar said that a plebiscite could be held next year, and if passed, it would pave the way for a directly-elected Mayor in 2020 or 2021.

The proposal was made in a letter to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as part of a package to extend the ‘Confidence and Supply’ arrangement between the two parties for the lifetime of the current Government. The current arrangement is due to expire this year.

Galway West Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton – who served as Mayor of Galway in 2011/12 – said the existing role has its limitations.

At the moment, a ‘mayoral pact’ exists in Galway City Council between four Fine Gael, two Labour and five independent councillors to effectively control the mayoral chain, voting and budgets.

When a pact is formed after local elections, the next five mayors and deputy mayors of the city are agreed between the members.

Deputy Naughton said: “Being elected Mayor confers no additional power or ability to change policy or drive any particular aspect of policy forward. The power is entirely one of persuasion.

“The office holder has only one year in which to persuade the executive of the City Council of the merits of a particular course of action. They also have to persuade each and every member of the City Council, of all parties and none, of the wisdom of a particular policy.

“During my time as Mayor I devoted huge time and energy to alleviating the traffic congestion in the city.  I tried my utmost, improvements were made, but yet the problem continues.

“I also tried to promote a dedicated music and arts performance centre, in addition to a conference centre, to accommodate major events. Additionally, I had intended advancing a number of other projects including the provision of a greenway, improvements in our city waterways, and park-and-ride facilities in strategic locations to the west, east, and north of the city. These projects could not be brought forward owing to the office of Mayor possessing neither sufficient time in office or powers to effect change.

“In nearly every way that matters, the council executive holds the reins of power and councillors, and particularly the Mayor, do not have sufficient powers to affect change,” said Deputy Naughton.

She said that a directly-elected Mayor with additional powers could introduce significant change.

“An elected Mayor, with additional powers, for Galway would change that dynamic utterly. It would see the Mayor responsible to the entire electorate of Galway, not just a particular electoral ward. It would mean that a Mayor could implement change required by the electorate in Galway City.

“It would mean voters having actual powers to effect change in their own city. It would radically democratise local government in Galway and is a change I wholeheartedly support,” she said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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