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Connacht Tribune

Veteran councillor rejoins Fianna Fáil

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The longest serving member of Galway County Council has been reinstated in the Fianna Fáil party, following 14 years in exile.

Cllr Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahy from Ardrahan said that he was proud and privileged to be back in the party having been forced to resign his membership back in 2004.

And he claims to have something in common with former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey as both served time behind bars and were then accepted back into Fianna Fáil.

Cllr Fahy, who is nearly 40 years a member of Galway County Council, was jailed for the alleged misappropriation of funds involving a fence that was erected on his lands under a Community Involvement Scheme in 2004.

In March 2007 he was sentenced to a year in prison and fined €75,000 for the offence but, following an appeal, his conviction was quashed in 2011 and a number of years later, he reapplied to be reinstated within the Fianna Fáil party.

It is only this week that the party membership has been informed by Fianna Fáil General Secretary Sean Dorgan that Cllr Fahy has been reinstated and he will now take his place among the other twelve FF councillors in Galway County Council.

It also means that Fianna Fáil have now a majority within the Council chamber with 13 councillors as opposed to Fine Gael’s twelve.

And he claims to have one thing in common with the late Charlie Haughey. “I think we are the only two Fianna Fáil members to have served time in prison and then be admitted back into the Fianna Fáil party,” he told The Connacht Tribune.

He described his sentencing as ‘a travesty of justice’ but that his name was eventually cleared on appeal as the initial judgement was deemed unsafe.

However, he served a term of imprisonment from April to November, 2007 in Castlerea Prison and then looked after his 99-year-old mother until her death in December 2008.

Last week, he sat amongst his Fianna Fáil colleagues during a meeting of Galway County Council to discuss the budget for the coming year.

“It’s great to be back and I would like to thank Micheál Martin for affording me the opportunity to return. All twelve Fianna Fáil councillors have also welcomed my return,” Cllr Fahy added.

The Ardrahan councillor has been successfully returned to Galway County Council in the last seven elections – 1979, 1985, 1991, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

He will be standing in the new Gort-Kinvara Municipal District next May as a Fianna Fáil candidate and he is widely expected to retain his seat.

Cllr Fahy was Secretary of Ardrahan Cumann FF from 1971 to 1987 and was also Chairman of Clarinbridge-Kinvara Comhairle Dáil Ceantair for several years.

While his current focus is on retaining his seat on Galway County Council, he has not ruled out the possibility of contesting the Fianna Fáil selection convention for Galway East. He said that he will be consulting with his supporters.

Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council brings in new rules on roadside memorials

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Families and friends of road accident victims will have to apply in writing to erect a roadside memorial under a specific size following the adoption of a new policy by Galway County Councillors.

The new rules will not affect memorials already erected – but if they have to be replaced, they will have to satisfy the now agreed criteria.

The Council area engineer will have to approve the location of any proposed memorial and the written consent of the landowner must be sought where possible in advance.

If friends wish to erect a memorial, they must get the written agreement of the family of the deceased. The policy now prohibits any lighting as could distract motorists and flowers or vegetation around it is now not allowed as it could block sight lines.

If the memorial is a free-standing cross it must not be higher than 750mm and if it is a free-standing stone, it must now comply with a maximum dimension of 450mm high, 450mm wide by 150mm deep.

There can only be one memorial per accident, regardless of the number of victims under the new framework created in consultation with the Gardaí and Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s (TII) Regional Safety Engineer.

Up to now there has been no policy in place regarding roadside memorials, despite the fact that hundreds dot the countryside. But their erection can cause difficulties, such as interference with verge trimming, distraction to other road users, they can attract visitors to accident blackspots and have the potential to block sight lines.

The policy states that it may not be possible to locate the memorial at the exact location of the incident and any memorials erected without the approval of the Road Authority will be removed. No roadside memorials are permitted on dual carriageways with a speed limit of 100 km/h or motorways.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full story, see the July 1 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can purchase a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Green hub could create up to 900 new jobs

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Údarás na Gaeltachta is going full steam ahead with plans for a green energy hub at Ros an Mhíl Harbour in Conamara.

The regional authority responsible for economic growth in the Galway Gaeltacht confirmed it has appointed an international engineering firm to develop a masterplan for an offshore wind energy hub on Údaras-owned lands in Ros a’ Mhíl.

Atkins is a British firm headquartered in London, England with offices in Ireland, including Parkmore in Galway City.

The hub, according to an Údarás-commissioned feasibility study published several months ago, could support up to 900 jobs in the Conamara Gaeltacht, serving multiple floating and fixed wind farms off the west coast.

“The development of Ros a’ Mhíl as an offshore wind energy hub is likely to have a profound impact, not just on the economy of the Gaeltacht regions of Conamara and the Aran Islands but also on Ireland’s ability to lessen its energy independence,” said Údarás CEO, Micheál Ó hÉanaigh.

Earlier this year, Government signalled its support for a €25million investment in a new harbour at Ros a’ Mhíl.

This new masterplan to be carried out by Atkins will involve planning the port development, carrying out an economic assessment, and detailing the engineering and logistical requirements.

It will also involve creating a ‘Green Port Development plan’ with a view of attaining Net-Zero operations, which means cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of the harbour to as close to zero as possible.

The development lies in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht and Údarás said Atkins employed local Irish-speaking engineers as core team members of the project.

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) welcomed progress of the project. “Never has it been more vital that we use our vast offshore wind resource to create renewable energy and ensure the security of our own energy supply,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Outdated parking meters set to be replaced

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All old pay and display parking meters throughout County Galway towns are in line to be replaced.

Galway County Council has confirmed that it was planning to replace the existing outdated machines with new ones.

It comes after the County Council’s audit committee said that the cost of maintaining the existing stock of pay and display machines was ‘extremely high’.

The audit committee also noted that there were ‘resounding issues with the outdated parking meters’ for users and for Council maintenance.

The Council said that the replacement of its parking machines inventory was ‘ongoing’.

Funding had been set aside in its capital account to replace outdated machines.

Councillor Karey McHugh (Ind) argued that technology should be introduced whereby motorists could use an app to pay for a parking space.

Director of Services, Derek Pender, said the new machines could use coins and card payments through a ‘tap and go’ system.

The software was also available for the machines to be compatible with the app Cllr McHugh had suggested, which was in operation in Limerick, Tipperary and other local authority areas.

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