Plans to dig up an unofficial 1916 stone in Mervue have been shelved – for now – but the area is set to get another commemorative plaque, after City Councillors voted in favour of erecting an official one.
A motion calling on Galway City Council to remove the “unauthorised structure” at Connolly Avenue in Mervue was deferred last week.
Councillor Pádraig Conneely (FG), the proposer, demanded its removal but his colleagues ‘kicked to touch’ and instead sought a report from Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath.
Meanwhile, a second motion, calling for a “plaque or memorial garden” to commemorate the 1916 centenary, to be installed at the green area opposite the shopping centre in Mervue, was unanimously agreed. This motion, proposed by Independent Terry O’Flaherty, was on the agenda long before the controversial stone in Connolly Avenue surfaced over Easter.
Councillor Conneely reiterated his opposition to the Connolly Avenue stone. He said it was installed without permission on Council lands and nobody was taking responsibility for it. He again accused “Sinn Féin/IRA” of erecting the stone “in the dead of the night”.
He said it was disingenuous now of Sinn Féin to claim they didn’t know about it, even though it was Sinn Féin Councillor Maireád Farrell who circulated invites to the unveiling; and it was a Sinn Féin Oireachtas member who was asked to launch it.
Cllr Farrell again told her colleagues that it was not a Sinn Féin stone and she felt it was an appropriate way to celebrate the 1916 Rising, 100 years on. She saw no reason why it should be removed.
The Chamber heard that the Easter lily on the stone has since been painted over, and not “daubed in graffiti” as had been suggested in some reports.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) noted during the discussion that the city’s mayor, Frank Fahy, and the office of mayor, was ‘snubbed’ by not getting an invite. Most councillors who spoke said that it was handled badly. They said there is procedure and protocol in place for public areas and they feared that this might set a precedent if it was allowed to stay.
Fianna Fáil’s Michael Crowe said the stone controversy had consumed far too much of Councillors’ time. “I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said, adding that nobody in the area has contacted him about it.
Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said that last Monday week, he was of a mind to remove the stone because it was erected without permission, and no one had claimed responsibility or ownership of it.
At the end of last week, however, the resident’s association wrote to him claiming ownership and calling for it to be retained. Mr McGrath said he would meet with residents and report back to members. Councillors agreed to decide what to do then.
Meanwhile, there were concerns about procedure and protocol in relation to Councillor O’Flaherty’s proposal for a plaque opposite the shops in Mervue.
This proposal had missed the deadline for applications for funding under the Council’s 1916 commemoration budget. The meeting heard however, that in the context of the Central Ward (Shantalla) and West Ward (Knocknacarra) both receiving funds for 1916 commemorative gardens, it would be appropriate that the East Ward (Mervue) would be funded too.
Senior Executive Officer, Gary McMahon, said: “There would be a certain symmetry to it”.
Mr McGrath said there might be some money for the Mervue proposal but councillors or the community would have to come up with the shortfall. Councillor O’Flaherty’s motion was supported by all councillors.
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.”