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Meeting with farmers puts ‘Greenway’ plan in limbo



The much heralded Connemara Greenway – a proposed 30 mile walking and cycling route from Oughterard to Clifden – is now in “limbo” territory, according to the Chairman of the Connemara group of County Councillors, Séamus Walsh.

Following a meeting of landowners with Connemara Councillors and County Council officials in Oughterard this week Councillor Walsh stated that “there will be no Greenway” unless farmers are in agreement with the route chosen, and unless they receive financial compensation.

The group of farmers who attended the meeting with County Councillors this week were mainly from the Glengowla area west of the town.  They said that there was not enough initial consultation with farmers about the Greenway; scores of people who attended a meeting in Oughterard recently raised similar concerns about the development of the project.

Councillor Séamus Walsh said that any individual looking for planning permission for a house would have to show that he/she owned the site or had permission to make the planning application.

In relation to the process used by the Council executive in choosing the Greenway route Councillor Walsh said:  “You cannot go in on people’s lands without their agreement, consent and without offering compensation to the owners”.

Bord Pleanála gave permission for the development of the Connemara Greenway over two years ago.  The application for the project was made by Galway County Council with the support of Fáilte Éireann; sources in the tourism organisation regard the Greenway as a key driver for the future of that industry in Connemara. They point out that a walking and cycling route from Westport to Achill has created a boom in activity in that area.

A two day Bord Pleanála Hearing in regard to the Greenway was held in Clifden in December of 2012.  Some objections and concerns in regard to the Greenway were raised at the Hearing but Bord Pleanála issued full approval for the development.

There were suggestions initially in the tourism sector that the Greenway project would be moved along quickly and that it could be in operation by 2014 or 2015.  But so far, only a little over two miles has been developed to the east of Clifden town and much of the roadway being used was already in existence at that point.

It has emerged that issues as regards the use of lands for the Greenway have also come to the fore in the area between Clifden and Recess which was the first section identified for development.

The application to an Bord Pleanála for the Greenway did not include a request for powers to acquire lands through Compulsory Purchase Order.  Neither was there any provision for compensating landowners.  It was envisaged that the lands required would be given up by the owners for free under an arrangement known as “Permissive Access”.

The route was mapped mostly along the grounds of the old Galway to Clifden railway line.  That service ended in 1935 and the lands have returned to private ownership.

Meanwhile, sources in Fáilte Éireann said this week that the development of the Connemara Greenway remains a “priority”.

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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