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Galway needs coastal protection from rising waters



Coastal cities like Galway need to be ‘sitting up and taking notice’ as regards the latest data on the ongoing increase in sea levels, one of the country’s leading climatologists has warned.

Author and climatologist, Dr. Kieran Hickey, told the Galway City Tribune that if the trend in increasing sea levels wasn’t reversed, it would have major implications for coastal towns and, in cases, even further inland.

Earlier this month, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report in which it warned of the ongoing consequences of global warming on world sea levels.  Dr. Hickey, who now lectures at the Dept. of Geography at UCC (University College Cork), said that the rising sea levels would have a knock-on effect, adding to the severity of storms and high tides on coastal areas.

“The people of Galway city and places like Salthill won’t need any reminding of the problems caused by high tides, storms and flooding – the rising sea levels will increase their impact on coastal population centres like Galway,” said Dr. Hickey.

He said that the ever-increasing emissions from greenhouse gases had led to a warming of the oceans and a consequent thermal expansion of the sea water mass that then led to a rise in sea levels.

“The real catastrophe down the road though could come with the melting of the icecaps on land masses in the Antarctic in the Southern Hemisphere and in Greenland in the Northern Hemisphere.

“If there was a complete meltdown of those land ice masses, sometime into the future, this could result in a sea level increases in the region of six metres which would have catastrophic consequences for everyone,” said Dr. Hickey.

He said that while 20 years ago such a scenario would not even be considered, the ongoing trend with greenhouse emissions, global warming and rising sea levels now had pushed this scenario far higher up on the agenda.

“The issue of improving flood defences in vulnerable coastal areas will be coming more to the fore but the key problem goes back to greenhouse gas emissions and our warming waters.

“I see here in Cork that they are embarking on a raft of flood prevention measures costing around €80 million between now and 2022. While these works will be a help, everything goes back to the basic cause of the problem,” said Dr. Hickey.

He said that the gradual increase in sea levels was ‘insidious’ but its impact would really come into play whenever severe storms or particularly high tides hit a vulnerable coastal area.

“I think we can say with some certainty that the impact of the storms and the high tides will be that bit more severe over the coming years. Galway, and all other vulnerable coastal communities, do need to be concerned about this,” said Dr. Hickey.

According to the latest EPA report, sea levels around Ireland have risen by seven centimetres since the early 1990s.

The EPA report also noted that the winter wave conditions of 2013/2014 were the most energetic along the Atlantic coast of Ireland since 1948.

Referring to the problem of global warming, the EPA have warned that there is only ‘a very short time frame’ within which to act before irreversible changes occur to the planet.

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.

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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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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