Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Planners sound alarm over ambulance base



Attempts by the owners of an unauthorised ambulance personnel training facility in Briarhill to gain planning permission have hit another stumbling block.

Last October, the Irish Ambulance Training Institute (IATI) – which has operated training rooms for the past four years at Unit 2a, Briarhill Business Park – was refused permission to retain the usage in the building.

The application was rejected by planners on the grounds that excessive carparking would seriously injure the amenities of the area, give rise to conditions that would constitute a traffic hazard and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

In January, owners James O’Neill, Marian Turley and Breege Patterson again sought permission to retain the change of use (from Enterprise and Light Industry to training and meeting rooms, offices and a canteen), and submitted a carparking availability survey with the application.

However, planners have pointed out the application fails to indicate the number of spaces which have been allocated to other (vacant) units, which technically may not be available to the IATI.

They added that the required number of spaces for the business was incorrect as the floor area of the building was not calculated correctly.

In the application, the IATI said a carparking survey carried out over three months found there were four groups of parking spaces adjacent to the premises and adjacent premises.

“The IATI training facility has occupied and operated from the subject premises for over four years and, indeed, commercial rates have been paid to the Council during this time.

“In this respect, our client was unaware that a change of use permission was required for the IATI use at the time of occupation.

“The IATI has a full-time staff of four persons at the Briarhill training facility and a normal maximum staff level of six persons. We understand that there are eight parking spaces generally allocated to the premises, which is clearly more than enough for staff needs.

“The survey identified at least 215 parking spaces in the immediate vicinity. The survey indicates that there is a high level of communal parking available close to the subject premises.

“The IATI has also received letters from a number of local businesses confirming that, over the past four years, there have been no issues in relation to the availability of parking spaces. We request that special consideration is given in the current application,” the application reads.

Planners have now requested a site layout plan indicating all of the mentioned parking spaces and clearly mark which are dedicated to other units and the demand generated by each unit, regardless of whether they are occupied.

They also pointed out that the floor area has been incorrectly calculated (areas such as toilets, reception and circulation space have been excluded), and requested a corrected figure – this will increase the parking requirement on the site.

The IATI now has six months to respond with further information or the application will be declared invalid.

The company provides training in pre-hospital emergency care and healthcare fields, from basic first aid through to professional level courses, and works with clients such as ambulance and fire services, coastguard, voluntary organisations, hospitals and adult education centres.

The applicants previously pointed out that the previous use of the unit was as a Yeats College tutorial room – school principal Terry Fahy is landlord. However, the education usage was also unauthorised.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.”

Continue Reading