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CITY TRIBUNE

Waiting list growing while ‘leaky’ operating theatres closed

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Operating theatres at Merlin Park Hospital, which were closed in 2017 due to leaking roofs, will now not be fully open until this coming Summer at the earliest.

And the latest figures confirm that the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery has grown to 1,500 people since the theatres were closed. This is despite repeated assurances that the situation would be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

A group of 10 orthopaedic surgeons wrote to Health Minister Simon Harris this week confirming that 1,500 patients are waiting for complex joint replacements, spinal surgery, foot and ankle and shoulder surgery and that the waiting list continues to expand exponentially.

The list, they said, is as long as it was back in September 2017 when the problem first emerged and two theatres were closed because of leaks in the ceiling.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has raised the matter numerous times in the Dáil and has been told that modular theatres would be provided as a matter of urgency and in the intervening period alternative arrangements would be made for the patients.

Saolta confirmed a service had been restored in March 2018 with the provision of one new theatre. It said that contracts had been exchanged for a modular theatre, however no explanation has been forthcoming as to why it will be the middle of 2019 before the new theatre is opened.

“It is completely unacceptable that no progress appears to have been made in the provision of modular theatres almost a year and a half after the initial closure. I welcome the fact that the surgeons have spoken out on behalf of their suffering patients and as well as raising it in the Dáil I will be asking Minister Harris for an urgent meeting in this regard.”

The HSE sought planning permission in December for a new modular theatre building on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital, to replace the existing units and officials said they are hopeful that the existing theatre – which re-opened in March 2018 – can be used to relieve waiting lists at UHG.

The new 613 square metre building and link corridor at the main hospital building will replace the existing to theatres, which the HSE has described as “no longer fit for purpose”.

According to the planning application, the development is an “upgrade and consolidation” of the existing theatre services, with no discernible increase in staff, patient or vehicle movements.

A decision on the planning application is expected at the end of this month.

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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