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Developer in court over dangerous electricity poles



A District Court Judge has called for works to be carried out immediately to make two electricity poles – located off the footpath on the actual road – outside a housing estate safer for road users.

The two poles, which are part of a public lighting system on a road in Loughrea, are the cause of contention between the Local Authority and a developer who is no longer in the construction business.

The Local Authority brought a planning enforcement case against Joe McGrath, c/o Ignatius T Greaney & Associates, “Clarig”, Kilcolgan, for failing to complete works at the Tí na Rí estate in Loughrea.

Loughrea District Court was told by the Council’s solicitor, Robert Meehan that part of McGrath’s planning conditions was that he would relocate the ESB poles that were on the original boundary of the site.

The poles are now about two feet away from the edge of the estate’s footpath and apart from each having one reflective sign on them, there are no bollards around them to make them safer to road users.

McGrath paid a €48,000 bond as part of his planning permission and it was estimated in Court that it would cost about €22,000 to relocate the poles.

Karen Quinn from the Council’s planning office, told the Court that there were other outstanding works including the provision of CCTV. She added that the relocation of the poles were a specific condition of his planning permission.

Correspondence between the Council and McGrath on this issue dates back to 2011. The Council were informed that the developer had issues with the ESB. McGrath had done the preparatory work and he thought they were going to finish the job.

A decision was take in October 2014 to issue an enforcement notice on McGrath but no action had been taken to date.

The matter has been before the Courts on previous occasions but had been adjourned.

Dan Shields, acting for McGrath, said there had been a letter from the ESB in June 2008 outlining that the relocation work would be carried out ‘in due course’. His client had done all he could so that the ESB could finish it.

He said the circumstances of the country had substantially changed since his client was in business as a developer whose capacity to relocate the poles was significantly lower.

A receiver had been appointed by NAMA for all of McGrath’s properties.

He asked if the Council had given any consideration that his client had made every effort to complete this work and was now not in a position to do so.

Ms Quinn said that there had been other issues relating to the bond.

Mr Shields said the estate looked very well finished to him and that instead of chasing the ESB, the Council had issued proceedings against the ‘low hanging fruit’.

Matthew Cunningham, a manager with the ESB, told the Court that he was only aware of this situation earlier this year.

Mr Meehan, for the Council, pointed out that the prosecution was against McGrath who had agreed to the planning conditions and not the ESB as there was no onus on them at all in this case.

Mr Meehan said the Council was not responsible for what happened in the country and that it had been McGrath alone who had been asked to carry out the works.

Mr Cunningham said they would carry out the works but they had to be done properly and he needed to know who was going to fund the work.

Judge James Faughnan, after seeing photographs taken of the position of the poles on the main road away from the estate boundary, declared them a safety hazard and ordered that interim works be carried out immediately to make them safer and visible at nighttime.

He said he would put the case back for four weeks to allow proper negotiations to take place so that the relocation of the poles be undertaken as a matter of public safety.

“This man (McGrath) faces a criminal prosecution if the work is not done and you (ESB) have known about this for years,” he said.

The case will come before the Court again on October 5.

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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