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West’s infrastructure not fit for purpose

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Government and European funding is urgently required in the West to bring roads, environmental and broadband infrastructure up to standard, according to business group Ibec.

The group has branded infrastructure here “not fit for purpose” and warned that without investment, regional economic imbalance will continue.

Ibec’s West Regional Director John Brennan said that essential roads projects need to be completed if jobs are to be created on a large scale.

“We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to avail of really low interest rates to deliver an ambitious capital investment plan for the West Region.

“For the West region to deliver on its growth potential, it needs world class infrastructure. Our current road, environmental and broadband infrastructure is either not fit for purpose or inadequate to meet future demand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galway-based Independent TD Mick Fitzmaurice is to begin a campaign next month to secure funding for the West from Europe.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said he agreed with Mr Brennan that “much of the essential infrastructure in the West of Ireland is not fit for purpose”.

“This is something that I have been pointing out for some time. The problems stem from a decision by the Government to remove the core funding status towards the West of Ireland in 2011.

“This was core funding from Europe which provided up to 40% towards essential infrastructure such as roads, rail links, broadband, and water and sewage services.

“However, the then Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar and the Government changed their policy in that regard in 2011.

“I will be going to Europe in October to lobby to have that funding model resumed for the Western Region.

“The infrastructure in the Western region now must be brought up to an acceptable standard and there is ‘TEN-T’ funding (Trans-European Transport Networks including road, rail, air and water) that can help in that regard,” said Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Ibec have now called on the Government to introduce an ‘ambitious’ capital investment programme in next month’s Budget.

“Businesses in the West are clearly beginning to feel the benefits of economic recovery but many remain constrained by significant infrastructure gaps.

“Very little capital investment has been delivered to the region over the past seven years and we are now playing catch-up. If we invest wisely now and deliver much needed infrastructure, the region will benefit for many years to come and business will create more jobs.”

The business group has said that roads projects need to be prioritised for completion over the next five years, including the completion of the Tuam to Gort M17/M18 motorway, the proposed N6 Galway outer bypass and identified the improvement of the N17 from Galway to Sligo as a ‘medium-term’ priority.

Other major infrastructure needs identified by Ibec include upgrades to the water and waste water networks.

“Broadband also remains a key infrastructure gap and requires public funding to deliver the essential infrastructure to those locations for which it is uneconomic for the private sector to do so.

“Now is the time to invest ambitiously and businesses in the West are calling on Government to provide funding for a number of key infrastructure projects in the region which will ultimately ensure a handsome return for the state through the benefits of business, social and employment prosperity,” said Mr Brennan.

Connacht Tribune

Galway historian’s 14 new books bring running total to 70!

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Steve Dolan.

There may be a book in everyone – but producing 18 of them for publication in one week is taking it to a different level. And yet that’s what Galway historian Steve Dolan has done for Heritage Week. . . adding 18 books this year to bring him up to 70 over the last seven years – and he’s firmly committed to hitting one hundred.

By day – and given the workload, increasingly by night – he is the chief executive of Galway Rural Development (GRD), but the Carrabane resident has had a lifelong passion for history. And that’s what he turns to as a form of relaxation which peaks at this time every year.

Not alone that; he already has the first five of next year’s publications completed – and he’s only starting!

This year’s booklets are all on the theme of Gaelic Games and every one of them is in aid of a different community group or charity. Theoretically, they are limited editions, but – given his own love of the subject matter – he won’t see anyone who shares that passion miss out.

While all eighteen new publications share that GAA theme, the diversity of subject matter within that is breath-taking – and an incredible achievement in terms of the workload and production.

From the story of the county title that Liam Mellows were robbed of in 1942 to the contribution of An Cath Gaedhealach to Galway GAA in 1947/48 or Galway’s 1923 and 1925 All-Ireland victories to sport in County Galway during the revolutionary years; the books are as much about social history as about sport.

See the full list of publications in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

And if they are of interest to you, you can contact Steve at sdolan@grd.ie to buy them.

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Connacht Tribune

Why did Galway suffer just half as many Covid deaths as Mayo?

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Galway and Mayo, two neighbouring counties, have had hugely contrasting experiences with Covid-19-related deaths.

Analysis of the latest figures reveals that Mayo’s Covid mortality rate is more than double that of Galway’s.

The disparity has prompted a Galway West TD to call for an investigation to see what caused the disparity.

Fresh data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid deaths in Galway have topped the 250 milestone.

Up to the end of July, HSPC has been notified of some 251 Covid deaths in Galway since the Pandemic was declared in 2020.

This gives a mortality rate of 97.3 per 100,000 population, which is the second lowest of any county in the Republic after Sligo.

During the same timeframe, neighbouring Mayo notified 296 Covid deaths, which gives a mortality rate of 226.8 per 100,000.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Hurling legend’s distillery plans for heart of Conamara

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Joe Connolly....Conamara vision.

Plans have been lodged to build a multi-million euro whiskey distillery on the Conamara coastline – the brainchild of Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly and his family.

And if it gets the green light, it will square a circle that has its roots firmly in the same Conamara soil – where both of the All-Ireland-winning Galway captain’s grandfathers were renowned distillers too . . . only of the illegal variety.

The plans for the Cnoc Buí Whiskey Distillery & Heritage Centre outside Carna – lodged by Údarás na Gaeltachta on behalf of Drioglann Iarthar na Gaillimhe Teoranta – describe a facility that will provide a first-class visitor experience and greatly enhance the local area’s tourism offering.

Once complete, Cnoc Buí will comprise the distillery itself, bonded warehousing, a bottling hall and tasting bar – as well as the heritage centre, shop and café.

That will create over 30 jobs in the first five years, with the heritage centre alone aiming to attract 16,000 visitors in the first year of operation – rising to at least 52,000 by year five in Iorras Aithneach, an area blighted by unemployment and emigration.

On top of that, their own economic analysis envisages the creation of another 130 jobs in the Carna/Cill Chiarain area – in leisure, hospitality and accommodation on foot of that significant increase in visitor numbers.

The Connollys see Cnoc Buí as ‘an asset which will enrich the entire community’.

“It will enhance the local tourism product and serve as a focal point for both the local community and visitors,” said Cnoc Buí director Barry Connolly.

“The building has been carefully designed to reflect the beauty of its surroundings, because we want our distillery to be an attractive hub, with its Visitors’ Centre and Tasting Bar. It will provide employment, draw in tourists and add value to other business in the area,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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