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Call to put transport in place before new Galway town built



Environmental watchdog An Taisce has urged Galway City Council to learn from the mistakes of the past by putting public transport links in place before developing a ‘new town’ on the eastern outskirts of the city at Ardaun.

In a submission to the local authority ahead of the drafting of a Local Area Plan (LAP), An Taisce spokesman Derrick Hambleton said mistakes should be learned from the way in which suburbs such as Renmore, Knocknacarra, and Doughiska were developed without public facilities.

Otherwise, he said, the entire project was “questionable” if planners allow the construction of new houses without the vital elements of a successful new town.

He said that the development of Ardaun should be seen as a long-term objective and that the local authority’s main focus should be on the city’s more pressing transportation and housing needs.

According to An Taisce, there should be a tram or rail link with the city centre from the heart of the new town.

Mr Hambleton said there was an onus on the City Council to reduce “wasteful car dependence” in any plans for a future new town at Ardaun.

He suggested that the city authorities should examine the feasibility of a tram link with the city centre, given that cities such as Plauen, Germany (population 67,000); Avignon, France (90,000); and Nordhausen in Denmark (44,200) had developed tram lines.

“There are many other such small cities around Europe (we have counted 40) with populations similar to, or smaller than Galway that have invested in tram services,” he said.

“Here in Galway, we have a summer time population of 100,000, while a winter time boost in resident population is brought about by our student population.”

Mr Hambleton said the plan for the ‘new town’ should take account of revised national forecasts for growth, which had decreased substantially since the outset of the economic crisis.

He told the local authority that social housing, community facilities, shops, green parks, and local services such as water and waste water treatment, as well as high-capacity transport links to the city centre, should be included in the area plan.

“It is not envisaged by An Taisce that Ardaun should be developed now, but should be set out as a longer term objective, so as not to delay any transport and present day housing projects needed for the rest of the city,” he said.

Mr Hambleton said planners must learn from the mistakes of the past, after building new houses in city suburbs without putting vital infrastructural elements in place.

“Historically, over the past 40 to 50 years we have seen many new suburbs such as Renmore, New Mervue, Corrib Park, Westside, Knocknacarra, Castle Park and, more recently, Doughuisce all being built without any provision being made for public facilities, which only came many years later in some cases, if at all,” he added.

Last Friday was the closing date for submissions to Galway City Council regarding the Ardaun Local Action Plan. The plan will outline detailed planning policies for an area which is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

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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.”

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