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Council refunds €31,000 to ‘NAMA’ company



Cash-strapped Galway City Council made a refund of more than €30,000 to a NAMA-controlled development company, after the local authority failed to comply with planning conditions laid down by An Bord Pleanála.

As part of the conditions set out for the development of the ‘Galway Gateway’ retail park in Knocknacarra (also known as the Galway West Retail Park) in 2005, Rumbold Builders were ordered to pay €31,000 to the City Council for the provision of two controlled pedestrian crossings.

However, the crossings were never provided, and the Council was forced to refund the payment last November to receiver HWBC Allsop, which was appointed by the National Asset Management Agency to Rumbold in 2012.

The crossings were to have been on Bóthar Siofáin and on the Western Distributor Road.

Director of Services for Planning, Tom Connell, signed off on the refund “as crossings have not been provided”.

Local pedestrian rights group Cosain criticised the Council’s failure to provide the crossings.

A spokesperson said: “While the refund itself may be technically correct and bureaucratically justified within the terms of the Planning and Development Act, it beggars belief that the Council has not yet provided even the bare minimum number of controlled crossings ordered by An Bord Pleanála nine years ago in 2005.

“On the positive side, the refund draws a line under that particular debacle and allows a reappraisal of what is needed in terms of provision for pedestrians in the area.

“An Bord Pleanala’s minimalist requirement for one controlled crossing on Bóthar Stiofáin and another on the Western Distributor Road was already inadequate in 2005, and is even more so now.

“Schools, shops, services and commercial developments all generate pedestrian as well as vehicular traffic. Pedestrians, including children of school age and parents with infants in prams, who need to access the Business Park via its two entrances off Bóthar Stiofáin have to traverse this busy road without the aid of a controlled crossing.

“At the entrance near Monkey Business, a hugely popular attraction for children which has been operating for eight or nine years, there aren’t even any dished kerbs.

“It’s bizarre that the City Council did not use the €31,000 special contribution to supplement the Local Improvement Scheme when they had the chance, in order to provide proper controlled crossings along with the speed ramps.

“Galway City Council has since given planning permission for two primary schools in the immediate vicinity, the most recent of which is based in temporary accommodation within the Business Park itself, yet they have done almost nothing to provide safe routes to school.

“How does the Council expect children to walk to school from residential estates in Rahoon and Knocknacarra if a sufficient number of pedestrian-priority crossings are not provided on the main access routes?

“It is simply unacceptable that children walking or cycling to school are paying the price for this country’s dysfunctional planning system and previous economic mismanagement,” the Cosain spokesperson said.

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.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from 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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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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