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Liveline saves Galway turkey farmer’s bacon



John Tedders, owner of the Filling Station Eco Store in his premises on Market Street, Galway. PHOTO: BRIAN HARDING.

A farmer and Galway eco shop owner who was faced with being stuck with 70 organic turkeys this Christmas turned to RTÉ’s Liveline to save his bacon.

John Tedders from Shrule, opened Galway’s first zero-plastic shop called The Filling Station on M Street last August where customers bring their containers to get all manner of household products and food – from washing up liquid to granola – filled from bulk.

He also breeds organic chickens and turkeys on his farm and this year had upped his stock of turkey chicks to 160 following increased orders from butchers.

He had managed to sell just over half when an order for 70 birds was cancelled last week as the butcher was also let down by customers.

“There’s no contract as such – you’re only going to get a contract from a big supplier like SuperValu, but if you’re small you’re taking a risk on it – so when he told me he wasn’t going to be able to move them on last Monday I was in a bad, bad place – I was just pulling out my hair,” exclaimed John.

He rang butchers all over Galway but most had already filled their orders by this late stage.

“I was desperate and I thought to myself I’ll ring Liveline. I had no intention of going on but I think the girl I spoke to knew I was in a bad way. I was hardly able to speak but I said to myself: ‘here goes’.”

After chatting with broadcaster Joe Duffy, the orders starting piling in and by mid-week John had lost count of the orders that had been placed, some already for next year.

A large retailer in Dublin came on air and agreed to purchase whatever was left of the stock and sign a contract with him for next year, which will give him a guaranteed market for his 2020 flock.

“I got so many emails, literally a thousand orders between Facebook and email. My turkeys are going all over the country from Donegal to Cork to Meath. I’m getting emotional just even talking about it now.”

Unfortunately, John says he will barely break even after dropping the price of his prized birds to just €65 – down from €95 to €110 depending on size – but he is delighted not to have to give them away for nothing after all the hard work in raising them.

“That’s farming – you never know what you’re going to get. But the feedback I get every year from people who say my turkeys were absolutely gorgeous is nice. I rang a friend of mind in Offaly and the same thing happened him – he lost 30 customers just because they might move around for Christmas dinner so nothing is ever guaranteed.”

John took the leap of opening an eco-shop this Summer after missing the retail world. His family had a small convenience store in Shrule for over four decades but he had to close it 13 years ago because he was being “hammered” by the larger supermarkets.

“I never thought I’d go back to the way we did it when I was knee-high, weighing out the tea and sugar like in my father’s time,” he muses.

“But I missed the shop and I liked the idea of going back to the way it was and the way it should be.

“There’s too much plastic, too much waste. We buy everything in bulk in 25 kilo bags and that makes things affordable for customers.

“About 95% of our products are organic, I support local producers where I can. There is a considerable amount to be saved by buying in this way and if everyone was doing their bit by cutting down on packaging it would make a big difference in the long-run.”

So far he is delighted by the support the shop is receiving.

“It’s steady, it’s not going to make a fortune as the rent is high but it’s levelled out. We’ve had a good Christmas and I hope people will continue to support us.”


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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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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