By Oisin Langan
Connacht and Ireland Rugby Player, Ultan Dillane, spoke this week on behalf of Rugby Players Ireland, urging people to stay safe and look after each another during this period of uncertainty. Dillane offered some insight into how he is staying active and what he is doing to bond with his housemates following the outbreak of the global pandemic, Covid-19.
Rugby Players Ireland has a number of resources in place for rugby players and the general public to support mental wellbeing including the Tackle Your Feelings App, supported by Zurich and funded by the Z Zurich Foundation and is free to download through the Apple and Google Play App stores.
OL: How are you finding the last couple of weeks?
UD: Yeah, it’s been different for sure, but yeah, the provinces have done the best they can to keep all the players with gym equipment, you know, and then try and facilitate us to train as normal.
Everyone is experiencing a big change in their lives, and we’ve been no different.
We’ve been given the gym, divided up between all the players and luckily enough we’ve enough equipment in the house to get some good training under our belts.
It’s been definitely different for sure, it has taken some getting used to but, at times, it’s been quite enjoyable.
OL: Is it a different challenge? And maybe even in some ways, a bigger challenge? Because you’re trying to change how you exercise and what you do and maybe your body isn’t used to that so that in itself is the challenge, that in itself is, although you didn’t choose it, is in itself, kind of, good for you?
UD: Definitely, because you can’t get the whole gym delivered to your house, you kind of have to make do with what you have, so, there’s a lot of exercise we’re being told to do that is really, really, hard and the body definitely doesn’t like it.
But it’s a nice challenge to try and better yourself and that’s something you otherwise wouldn’t be doing much of and yeah, I think we’ve all, the three of us here, we’ve all tried to target some goals and maybe try to achieve some personal bests by the time we get back to normality you know?
OL: There is three of you in the house – you’re living with Dominic Robertson McCoy and your brother. How important is that to have other competitive people around you because that will maybe help keep you sharp, keep that edge, that competitive people and professional athletes like to have?
UD: My brother has played rugby before and he would be quite competitive. It is good to have that, kind of, everyone trying to bring each other up to get some training done, because it’s very easy to fall into a hole of laziness at times.
You’ve so many hours in the day to do stuff in but yet, it’s so easy to do little and it’s nice to kind of have everyone trying to push each other on to maybe do some conditioning or an extra weight session because it’s not as if we are going playing any games so there’s plenty of time to recover from everything.
We also find that we are giving each other nutritional tips because it’s so easy to fall into that lull of just eating whatever you want because you’ve no one to kind look over you or to check you on anything.
It’s been good, we’ve been quite positive.
OL: It sounds like this is quite a good test of your professionalism because there is no one watching you and it would be very easy to slip into bad habits?
UD: Yeah, so there is a good buzz to try and get some good clean cooking going and we’ve all taken to it quite well to be fair.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises
From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.
Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.
She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.
“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.
“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.
She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.
In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.
But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.
“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.
“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.
Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.
However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.
“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.
“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”
In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.
“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”
Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge
The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.
Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.
A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.
The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.
The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.
One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.
Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.
The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.
(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).
Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City
From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.
Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).
Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.
He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.
The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.
At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.
Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.
And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”
Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.
Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.
He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.
The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.
A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.
“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.