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Walsh withdraws from election on health grounds

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Sitting Galway West Fine Gael TD has tonight confirmed he will not be running in the upcoming General Election for health reasons.

Deputy Walsh – who served on Galway City Council from 2004 to 2011 when he was elected to the Dáil – withdrew his candidacy on medical grounds following intense speculation.

A long-term campaigner for funding for the expansion of services at Galway Hospice, Deputy Walsh said he had “no choice” but to accept medical advice.

In a statement issued tonight, he said: “It is with deep regret that I have decided to withdraw my candidacy in the forthcoming general election in accordance with medical advice.

“I have been experiencing health problems for some time, which have resulted in hospitalisation on two occasions recently. Thankfully, I’m currently on the mend but, unfortunately, my condition is liable to relapse or worsen unless considerable changes are made to my lifestyle.

“I am aware that there has been speculation concerning my political future since my most recent hospitalisation in September. I have done everything possible to resist making this decision and had hoped to overcome my condition in order to be able to continue. But in recent days, it has become clear that I have no choice but to accede to medical advice and withdraw my candidacy in the forthcoming general election.

“The demands of my role as a public representative have had an impact on my condition that is unsustainable in the long term.

“I have struggled greatly with this decision and have done everything possible to avoid having to make it. I have been involved in politics and Fine Gael since I was ten years’ old, and I have been honoured to serve as a public representative for the past 11 years.

“It is particularly difficult in light of two recent opinion polls that suggest, as I have always believed, that we will return to government after the next election and will retain two seats in Galway West.

“While it is with great sadness that I must step back from this role, I take solace from the fact that this will enable me to spend more time with my family, which has been a scarce and precious commodity in the face of competing demands in political life.

“I wish to thank my wife, Fiona, my daughters, Lisa and Amy, my family and supporters, and the people of Galway West for their backing and their trust. It has been a great honour to represent the people of this constituency at national and local level. I am indebted to all those who voted for me throughout the years, and for the tremendous support given to me by Fine Gael members in the constituency.

“I have informed An Taoiseach Enda Kenny of my decision, and I would like to thank him for his support throughout my political career and, in particular, his understanding and support in recent days.

“In the forthcoming campaign, I intend to lend my support to my Fine Gael colleagues in Galway West, where I am confident the party will retain its two seats and return to government in the next Dáil.

“I am proud to have supported a government, whose actions – together with the sacrifices that people have made – have turned the country’s fortunes around as more and more people return to work, and our financial condition continues to improve.”

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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