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Harbour board changes tack to put port expansion on track



Date Published: 14-Aug-2012

 GALWAY Harbour Board has ‘changed tack’ on the way in which it plans to submit its application for the redevelopment of Galway Port.

The ‘new way’, it says, increases the chances of the larger extended port being granted planning permission and decreases the prospects of the project being delayed by complex legal arguments in Europe.

The Harbour Board has confirmed to the Sentinel that it has decided to apply for the port development to be progressed for “Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI)” rather than through the ‘traditional’ route it had originally envisaged.

It is choosing this route – one which has never before been tried in Ireland but which has worked for similar port developments in sensitive ecological areas in UK and Europe – partly in order to avoid the kind of lengthy delays experienced by the proponents of the Galway City Outer Bypass, which is currently before the European Court of Justice.

Under the IROPI route, the Harbour Board concede that the development of the new port will have an impact on the ecology of the site at inner Galway Bay, a designated European Natura 2000 habitat.

But, crucially, the Harbour Board’s Environmental Impact Statement, which is complete, will argue that the proposed development will have no “significant” ecological impact on Galway Bay, and it provides that any loss of Habitat in the Natura site is compensated for at another suitable location.

The IROPI route, which comes under Article 6 (4) of the Habitats Directive as opposed to the traditional route of Article 6 (3), does mean the planning application for the development will be delayed due to ongoing consultations with the Environment Minister, An Bórd Pleanála, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the European Commission.

“We had envisaged that the planning application would have been lodged (this Friday) August 17, but because of discussions with the European Commission and National Parks and Wildlife Service, we decided to review the scope of the planning application. There will be a short delay, but it is a delay we believe that will lessen the delay long-term in terms of actually getting the planning application,” said Harbour Board CEO Éamon Bradshaw.

Because this is the first occasion in Ireland that a body or organisation has applied for IROPI status, the exact procedures of how it will pan out is unknown as yet but the decision on whether Galway Port should be considered IROPI will be taken by the Environment Minister in consultation with the European Commission.

Mr Bradshaw says applying for planning under Article 6 (4) rather than the traditional Article 6 (3) increases the chances of the project succeeding to construction stages.

He said the city bypass, and other Strategic Infrastructure Developments, went through the traditional route but have been delayed and caught up in legal procedure.

“What we are saying is that, under the traditional route, similar to what happened with the bypass, there could be judicial reviews and it could then go to Europe. What we have done is reviewed the planning application after extensive consultations and we believe the Port should be progressed as IROPI,” he said.

Under IROPI the Harbour Board admits there will be an impact on the ecology of the site, he said.

“It would be impossible to argue otherwise. If you are going to build on a land mass of 27 hectares, we couldn’t argue it wouldn’t have an impact even if it is only .3% of the total ecological habitat. But what we will argue strongly, and what our Environmental Impact Statement says, is that the impact on the site form an ecological point of view is minimal,” he said.

For more on this see page 3 of The Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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