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Deadline ‘must be extended’ for turbines in Galway Bay



The Marine Institute has ‘lost the trust’ of residents in An Spidéal over its handling of its application for a foreshore lease for renewable energy test site in Galway Bay, according to a Dáil Deputy.

Independent Galway West TD, Catherine Connolly said the whole consultation process has been a “complete mess” and badly handled by Foras na Mara.

Deputy Connolly has called on the Marine Institute, and the Minister for Marine, to extend the deadline of the public consultation period, so that concerned residents can make informed submissions about the project in the bay off Spiddal.

“Trust between Foras na Mara (Marine Institute), and what they are calling the stakeholders, who are the residents and people who this test site impacts, has broken down,” she said.

“Foras na Mara and the Government has made a mess of this. People do not trust them. They are concerned about this project because there has been so much confusion about it,” she said.

Some 70 people attended a public meeting in Connemara Coast Hotel last week, where four people from Marine Institute explained the project.

Deputy Connolly was in attendance with Dáil constituency colleagues Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) and Hildegarde Naughten (FG), and senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF).

Deputy Connolly said the Marine Institute agreed to host this public meeting only after she raised the matter in the Dáil.

“They held a meeting on a Tuesday in June, and the closing date for submissions was that Friday. That’s no way to consult the public. They have extended the deadline twice now after I raised it in the Dáil.

“The consensus at Thursday’s public meeting was there is a need to extend the deadline for a third time. It is a very complex matter and residents want time to examine it in detail.

The deadline is next Tuesday, August 2, but that isn’t sufficient time and I’ve called for the deadline to be extended. The people at the Marine Institute, who are the applicants, said they would not object to an extension again,” said Deputy Connolly.

Some of the confusion is of Marine Institute’s own making, which has further aroused suspicions, she said.

The Marine institute’s original application stated it was seeking permission to deploy three turbines of 60 metres in height.

However, it has since corrected its application and insists that the “devices” will be half that height.

“A prototype floating wind turbine being tested on the site could have a blade tip at maximum 35m above sea level while wave energy converters would be up to 5m above sea level,” it said.

It has applied for a 35-years lease, and the wind turbines will be on site “intermittently”.

The application states that there will be a limit of three ocean energy test devices deployed at any one time for a period of testing “no greater than 18 months”.

Deputy Connolly said a lease was stronger than a licence, and residents are worried that the lease allows it to be sublet possibly to private companies.

They are concerned also about the length of the lease – 35 years; about the size of the area being covered, which is 37 hectares; and about their insistence that it is a “test site” but that it is not referred to as such in the application.

An existing ten-year lease granted in 2006 was for wave energy and made no reference to wind energy or turbines. This has been extended for a year but residents are unclear about the terms of that extension, she said.

“I come at this from a position in which I am 100% supportive of renewable energy because we have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we have to bring the people with us, there has to be proper consultation that addresses the concerns of residents. Trust has completely broken down, and they have made a mess of this,” added Deputy Connolly.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh, in a statement, said he is supportive of an extension of time for the application.

“I would suggest that an extension of four to six months would be the amount of time needed to allow people to make proper and considered submissions,” said Senator Ó Clochartaigh in a letter to the Minister.

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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