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Windfarm developers pledge to give millions to community

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The developers of Galway Wind Park in Connemara have pledged to spend millions of euro on local community organisations over the next 25 years.

SSE and Coillte say they want to leave a “lasting and enduring” legacy long after the windfarm is constructed by the end of next year.

The windfarm at Doon East, which is located in Rosscahill, two miles west of Moycullen, when finished will be the largest onshore windfarm in the country.

Once the park becomes operational, SSE and Coillte have vowed to “jointly establish a community fund to benefit the local community, as well as the wider area, over the 25-years life of the wind park”.

The exact amount of cash injection hasn’t been revealed but the two organisations say the fund “is expected to be split between a multi-million-euro local community fund and a multi-million-euro regional fund.”

During the construction stage, SSE and Coillte say they have already invested €150,000 to support over 30 local community projects, including sports teams such as Moycullen Ladies GAA, St Paul’s basketball team, Oughterard RFC, Moycullen Basketball, and Killannin GAA. Men’s Shed Moycullen, Killannin Scouts, Oughterard Scouts, Galway Hospice, and Moycullen Active Retirement, also benefited from funds from the developers.

They promise to pump millions of euro into local community groups over the next two-and-a-half decades was contained in the Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report, which was officially launched in Moycullen last week.

The report, commissioned by SSE and Coillte, claims that over 100 local businesses have provided products and services to the wind energy project, representing a €20m spend so far with the local supply chain in County Galway.

Nationally, Galway Wind Park has already contributed €88.7m to Irish Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the report.

When completed in late 2017, it will be the largest onshore wind farm in Ireland, with the capacity to generate enough green energy to power around 89,000 homes, equivalent to almost 80% of the homes in Galway.

Speaking at the launch in the Forge, Moycullen last week, County Councillor Noel Thomas, Cathaoirleach of Connemara Municipal District, welcomed the community-gain element of the project.

“The benefits to the local community from the development by both companies of Galway Wind Park have been very positive, with both short-term and long-term impacts,” said the Fianna Fáil Councillor.

“We have seen short-term benefits from employment during the construction phase, creating a great opportunity for local contractors to expand, invest in their businesses and provide significantly more employment in the area. Over the long-term there is going to be a major investment by SSE and Coillte in a community fund. This will be a multi-million Euro fund that will be available for local communities to draw down on, and this will have a very positive impact in the local community over the next 25 years,” he added.

The report quotes local suppliers, who are involved in the project. Niall Curran, of Niall Curran Plant Hire, Moycullen said he was very grateful for the opportunity to work on the project. “I’m happy to say that as a result of working on the project, not only have I been able to invest significantly in new plant machinery, I’ve been able to provide additional employment to six local people, not to mention the jobs created by other local businesses that I use to keep my machines working. As for the future, working on this project has already led to securing work elsewhere around the county,” said Mr Curran.

Tom Gilligan of Lydon Steel Ltd in Galway, which provides steel for the turbine bases, is also “delighted” to be part of the project.

“Not only has our association with the project allowed us to significantly grow our business somewhere in the region of 20%, but crucially we have been able to employ an additional three people, creating much needed employment in the local area. We are also proud to have contributed in some way to bringing a source of renewable energy to Galway,” said Mr Gilligan.

In advance of the launch of the report, representatives of SSE management met with Doon East residents in Killannin Community Centre. The meeting was called in response to repeated concerns expressed by locals in relation to how the project is being managed.

Residents have expressed concerns about impacts on their health from the construction, and traffic.

Speaking about the meeting with residents, Catherine Hannon, SSE Public Affairs Manager, said: “We are grateful for the ongoing support of the residents, communities and other stakeholders. We continue to engage with all stakeholders in the area to ensure the local benefits of the project are maximised and to minimise any disruption.”

Connacht Tribune

School walkway remembers much-loved member of staff

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Minister Frank Feighan with Lucy Daly's family at the opening of Lucy’s Way (from left) Lucy's father Jackie O'Shea, her sons Niall and Aaron Daly, and her mum Florrie O’Shea.

A Galway school unveiled its new sensory walkway as a lasting memorial to its much-loved secretary who passed away earlier this year.

Lucy’s Way at Esker National School is named after Lucy Daly, and fittingly her sons Niall and Aaron were on hand to cut the ribbon with Junior Minister for Health, Frank Feighan, recently.

The Minister was at the Athenry school to also officially open the school’s new Outdoor Classroom and Sensory Gardens, as well as the Walkway – just as summer begins to bloom.

Also in attendance also were the Bishop of Galway and Michael Duignan; Monsignor Cathal Geraghty; Karen Cotter from Active School Flag, Andrew McBride from Healthy Ireland and Karen Colcannon representing Galway Sports Partnership.

The work was completed in a voluntary capacity by parents of the school, the local Rural Social Scheme and staff members with the support of school management.

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

No room in the city – so college students told to look at Tuam or Athenry

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NUIG...accommodation advice.

Students coming to NUIG this September have been advised by the college to check out their accommodation options… as far away as Tuam, Oughterard, An Spidéal or Athenry.

Unfortunately, that is likely to prove as fruitless as searching for a flat in the city, because those involved in the rental sector say that there is very little available around the county either.

A trawl through accommodation websites reveals an extremely limited supply of rental properties across the county – particularly when it comes to those suitable for students.

And even when there is availability, you won’t find a one-bed property for much for less than €1,000 as the dearth of rental accommodation has resulted in owners demanding close to city prices.

Tuam auctioneer Michael Mannion said that there are very few properties to be had, and the vast majority of those that come to the market will not suit students.

“We don’t have them at the moment, and it is futile for NUIG suggesting they look at the likes of Tuam – or any other similar-sized town for that matter in the county,” he said.

“There is no problem about accepting students, but the houses and apartments are not there to accommodate them. There is no building going on and while this is the case, there are very few properties up for rent,” Mr Mannion added.

Student accommodation in Galway City averages out at around €1,500 per month which is putting a major financial strain on families.

NUIG recently advised students to consider seeking accommodation in Tuam (22 miles from the college), Oughterard (18 miles), An Spidéal (12 miles), Moycullen (8 miles) or Athenry (15 miles).

The NUIG Students Union described the fact that NUIG is recommending that other areas outside the city as a reflection of the current situation.

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

Government bows to pressure on rural work schemes

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Minister Heather Humphreys.

SWEEPING reforms to a number of local employment schemes – announced this week by the Government – have allayed fears among West of Ireland communities over the future of thousands of rural jobs.

A six-year time limit for participants in the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) has now been axed by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys – if that clause had remained, 45 positions in Galway would be cut from February 1 next.

The package of reforms has been warmly welcomed by West of Ireland TDs and public representatives including Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and East Galway Fine Gael TD, Ciaran Cannon.

“We’ve all worked very had to bring these changes about, and at a time when it’s nearly impossible to get workers, these are common-sense measures which will mean an awful lot to villages, towns and communities across the West of Ireland,” said Anne Rabbitte.

According to Deputy Ciaran Cannon, the abolition of the six-year participation rule in the Rural Social Scheme was one of the central points raised at a huge public meeting in Athenry at the end of May.

“The Minister hopes to effect the abolition of the rule within a very short timeframe thus clearing the way for participants to remain working on the Rural Social Scheme up to retirement age,” said Deputy Cannon.

The reforms – confirmed by both Minister Humphreys and Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday – will apply to the RSS; Tús [a one-year community work placement scheme]; and Community Employment (CE) schemes.

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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