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Vow to blockade motorway in compensation claim

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Date Published: 08-Oct-2009

THE construction company behind the new N6 motorway is set to be innundated by a barrage of solicitors’ letters and legal actions from hundreds of farmers and motorists who are claiming compensation for damage done to their lands, roads and vehicles since work on the road began.

And with just 80 days to go until the scheduled opening of the final Galway to Ballinasloe stretch of the motorway, local farmers and residents along the route have vowed to blockade the motorway unless they get their cash.

With hundreds of people now awaiting compensation from the company behind the scheme – N6 Construction Ltd – local organisers say a structured campaign of regular blockades could begin as early as this weekend in an effort to slow down completion of the project.

They say that contrary to their understanding at the outset of construction that any damage done to roads or lands would be promptly repaired, their complaints have been ignored and they have been left out of pocket and frustrated.

It is estimated car owners throughout the county whose vehicles have been damaged by massive potholes on local roads have a combined claim against the company of €100,000, while dozens of other claims from farmers whose lands have been left flooded or who have had their work severely disrupted by the construction work have yet to be calculated.

In a coordinated effort amongst all those affected, almost 200 solicitors’ letters will be sent to N6 Construction Ltd in the coming days as locals have been advised to proceed through the legal route as well as through their blockades of the road itself.

The latest in a series of public meetings will take place tomorrow night (Friday) in Athenry to allow angry land and property owners to air their grievances and to take legal advice on how they can each individually proceed with their claims.

The N6 Galway to Ballinasloe Road is being completed as a Public Private Partnership and cases may be taken against Galway County Council, the National Roads Authority and N6 Construction Ltd.

More than one hundred people attended a meeting in New Inn earlier this week, where the rallying cry from the organisers – Fine Gael Senator Ciaran Cannon, Fine Gael Councillor Michael Maher and
Independent Councillor Tim Broderick – was for a united front from all who have been affected.

Speaking to The Connacht Tribune yesterday, Cllr Maher said the major fear now is that once the road is completed, the construction company will move off site and out of the country and will not carry out repairs to local roads or farms.

Continued on page 2 of the Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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