Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish, in a submission to the Galway Local Government Review Committee – which is looking into the possibility of unifying the city and county councils – said that any such move would be bad for both the city and county.
The committee, appointed by Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, is also examining whether or not the boundary of the city should be altered.
But Deputy Grealish claimed this week that the exercise was simply a ‘political stunt’ by Minister Kelly.
He said that Galway City had a proud and rich history as an independent entity and nothing should be done that might in any way impact on its uniqueness and its international reputation.
“If we make it one local authority for the whole of the city and county, then Galway City will lose much of its standing and I firmly believe it will not have the tourist pulling power that it has now as the City of the Tribes.
“It would also destroy the marketing power that Galway City has in attracting inward investment from abroad, which has proven to be so crucial to the success of the city in recent decades.
“When you have visiting dignitaries and international companies coming, one of the functions always of the Mayor of the city is to meet these delegations and to sell our city to them.
“If you have just one local authority, you will no longer have a mayor for the city,” said Deputy Grealish.
He stressed that the city and county had very different needs.
“Galway county stretches 100 miles from east to west, all the way from Ballinasloe and Portumna to Clifden and beyond, with a population of more than 175,000 … that’s a substantial administrative area in its own right, as is the city of Galway, with a population today of about 80,000.
“As well as that, County Galway is a very rural county with 77% of people living in rural areas, according to the report on the 2011 Census – that is double the state average of 38% – whose needs and interests are very very different to those of the city.
“So not only would a single local authority be a bad idea for the city, it could also be detrimental to the interests of the people of the county.”
On the question of extending the city’s boundaries, Deputy Grealish said that the Ardaun corridor to the east of the city, where a new ‘town’ with a population of 20,000 people is planned, should be entirely brought within the control of Galway City Council – it currently straddles the city and county administrative areas.
“However, it is imperative that there be no change in the administration of the city, with Galway City Council retaining its role in the urban area and Galway County Council continuing in its duties as the administrative authority for the rest of the county.
“To coin a phrase, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” he added.
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 www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races
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.
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.”