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Council funds CCTV crackdown on illegal dumping



Galway County Council planned to invest an additional €30,000 in cameras above what was set aside in the budget in order to thwart an “epidemic” of illegal dumping.

Cllr Joe Byrne said the volume of rubbish being dumped around Loughrea was “quite frightening”, describing it as an epidemic.

He had attended a meeting recently about illegal dumping in the Gort area and a lot of money was being spent on cleaning it up, only for it to be repeated.

“We have to make a decision about cameras for rubbish blackspots. The use of mobile CCTV cameras to catch offenders is something we’d really welcome. Towns and villages and county roads are decimated by rubbish being dumped. It’s quite incredible the type of stuff being dumped.”

He urged the Council to consider setting up a civic amenity site in Gort to help with the disposal of white goods and non-residential waste.

He said the State should consider bringing in legislation to deduct people’s social welfare payments if caught littering.

Cllr Jimmy McClearn said it was very frustrating for Council staff who go to great lengths to identify the culprits only to see them treated very leniently in court.

“I’ve seen people caught several times and they simply refuse to pay the fine,” he fumed.

“The laws under which the local authority are operating need to be strengthened considerably. Also the judiciary needs to get real about the situation.”

He recalled that 45 tonnes of rubbish was collected in Woodford alone, which would no better or worse than other small parishes.

Cllr Shane Donnellan said offenders were going to the trouble of removing items which could identify them before dumping and were also throwing things in remote locations never regarded as a blackspot.

“All we can do is collect it and get it out of the area. If there’s no evidence we’re fighting a losing battle. If CCTV cameras are there, these guys will probably get smart again and wear hoodies and cover their number plates.”

Director of Services for water and environment, Jim Cullen, said it was probably easier to keep towns and villages clean than in the wider countryside and the impact of the Tidy Towns initiative should not be underestimated.

Illegal dumping was sometimes the result of people paying to have rubbish collected which was then thrown out by the operator irresponsibly.

He said some illegal dumping occurred near civic amenity sites, which showed people dumped because they simply did not want to pay.

“They are dumping goods that can be returned to shops. It’s a difficult fight. People have got very, very clever and take out things that can identify them so we have to spend more time to catch them out.”

He said the roll-out of the CCTV had been successful and the plan was to roll out more in blackspots.

“We are spending €25,000 to €30,000 on CCTV cameras in the next six months above what was planned for. It will take time for those to yield benefits and then they have to be moved on.”

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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