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Docks safety barrier wins approval from An Bord Pleanála



The safety railings that are located at Galway Docks will be retained despite opposition from planning watchdog, An Taisce, which opposed their retention on visual grounds.

Galway Harbour Company had been granted planning permission by City Council planners for the retention of security gates and the safety railings, but this became the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The railings on Dock Road are mounted on a raised kerb lined strip that separates the working area of the quayside from the two-lane carriageway outside. They are composed of steelwork that is primed, acid etched and painted black.

An Bord Pleanala ruled that the railings were acceptable and would not injure the amenities of the area. There will be an opportunity to review the impact the railings have in five years’ time and in light of plans for the future redevelopment of the quays.

The quay wall is a protected structure and the Planning Appeals Board made it a condition that the railings in the vicinity of the entrance to the marina pontoons be replaced with metal mesh fencing.

An Taisce appealed the decision to grant planning permission for the safety railings on the grounds that they reduce the attractiveness of the area.

They said that they have no objection to the raised kerb and safety fencing that was installed along Dock Road so as to separate the public road from the working quayside.

“Critically, this low level fencing did not obstruct views of Galway Docks. However, objection is raised to the replacement of this fencing by the utilitarian fencing that is now in situ,” they said.

An Taisce said that they do not object to the principal of fencing on Dock Street but oppose the poor architectural quality of the fencing that has been erected.

“Alternatives could comprise suspended chains between cast iron posts, wire between stainless steel posts or toughened glass barriers,” they suggested.

Objection was raised to what they described as the ugly, oversized, cage and gate to the marina. Objection was also raised to the recent erection of a pair of “industrial looking” security gates to the entrance to the marina.

They said that these gates debar the public from exercising their lawful “right of access” via the timber walkway, which crosses the lock gate at the entrance to the harbour. They said two pairs of gates appear to have been erected without the necessary extinguishment of the public rights of way which they block.

In response Galway Harbour Company say that activity has grown over the years and it represents a significant industrial undertaking. They add that they are conscious of the health and safety of the workforce as well as the public.

The Harbour Master said that the fencing that had been in place prior to this was unsatisfactory as members of the public were simply able to step over it.

He also drew attention to the changes that have occurred over recent years whereby the harbour area has opened up to residential development and so, instead of being a solely working environment, it is now a mixed use one wherein the need to address public safety is of a wholly different order.

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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