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Residents must be consulted over greenway plans



Mégane Sport Tourer

Councillors have agreed to the inclusion of a greenway in the City Development Plan on the condition that the wording would clearly state that private landowners be fully consulted.

Members expressed concern that properties would be cut in two if the ‘indicative’ route went ahead. They were gathered in City Hall for the second part of the process – following public consultation on the proposed alterations to the Draft City Development Plan (CDP) 2017-23.

All councillors had an issue with the inclusion of a cycle route along the coast from Oranmore to Barna, as part of a national greenway between Dublin and Galway – but only because affected landowners in the city had not been consulted.

Senior executive planner, Helen Coleman, said that 20 submissions had been received on this matter – one in favour of it, and 19 expressed concern at the route alignment.

“The idea of a cycleway has been in a Development Plan since 1999, which indicated a coastal route in Roscam,” she said.

“In the 2005 plan, we included a plan for a wider greenway network from Barna to Oranmore. There has been a long desire in the Plan and policy support for the provision of a route through this area.

“The proposed area is a working modification of a previous route. Our view is that because it’s a working modification, it was highlighted as an indicative green route only, and was not meant to be the final route. It is a moment in time, and will be subjected to further detailed assessment. It is part of the Galway-Dublin route, which will be rolled out nationally.”

She said that the relevant Government Department had informed planners that the Galway-Athlone section had to be paused due to the concerns of landowners.

“We felt it was important that a route be indicated (in the Plan)… we will go back to the drawing board, and will involve much more detailed consultation with the public and landowners,” Ms Coleman added.

Cllr Michael Crowe said that it had not been clear from the Plan that this was only ‘indicative’ and that residents were, understandably, upset. He was one of the Councillors who had attended a public meeting where these concerns were voiced.

“It was frightening to find out that no consultation at all had been held with the people of the area,” said Cllr Declan McDonnell, who was also there.

“If we passed ‘an indicative route’ in the plan, it could be deemed that we are accepting that route. Nobody of the 70 at that meeting accepted that route. There was no discussion on the principle of a cycleway, but they didn’t like that nobody had asked them if they were happy or against it.”

Cllr Frank Fahy said that a civil servant in Dublin had simply drawn a line through someone’s private property, without consultation.

“I understood that the greenway was to go through public land, but west of the Shannon 70% of it has been through private property,” he said.

“We avoid the State land owned by the army. I can’t understand why it didn’t go along the Coast Road, and in the Dublin Road, where we already have a cycle lane.”

Cllr Ollie Crowe said that the current route would not be feasible, as it would divide properties in half.

Cllr Pearce Flannery accused fellow members of being hypocrites, as he claimed this was exactly the same principal as in White Oaks, Clybaun Road, where residents blocked up a ‘greenway’ due to anti-social behaviour – with Councillors voting against blocking up these routes.

“There is hypocrisy at play here. I’ll be watching (who votes against the Greenway) and will call for roll call – nobody discussed this with stakeholders, all the principals are the same but individuals are changing their position,” he said.

Members did not agree with the councillors.

“White Oaks was about the barrier across a greenway that’s proposed for the city,” said Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty agreed that this was a different situation.

Cllr Colette Connolly agreed: “This was a completely different scenario in relation to a walkway outside a school.”

She said that the claim of a lack of consultation had to be taken seriously, but she questioned why these valid concerns were being raised so late in the game.

Director of Services, Joe O’Neill, said that there had been extensive public consultation over the best part of two years in relation to the Development Plan.

“To the point where staff have gone out (to communities), and clinics were held here on a regular basis. The CDP is a framework document for the development of the city over the next six years.

“The Department of Transport has said there will be further consultation in relation to the national greenway – there is no dispute from me about the importance of public consultation, particularly when it involves the use of people’s land.

“There is a commitment that there will be public consultation with the general public and land owners before any route is arrived at. There have been plans for that area going back to 1997.

“I agree, there should be further public consultation to look at alternatives. Realistically, once they got over the Shannon it was not as easy to go along public land, as they went along the canals on east side of the country.”

Senior planner, Caroline Phelan, added that the Department of Transport had held a public meeting in the Radisson Blu Hotel, and that the primary objective of the greenway was to maximise scenic routes between Dublin and Galway.

She said that although it was a national project, it had huge benefit for Galway.

Mr O’Neill assured members that any such plan would have to come back before the Council, under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001.

The wording was also changed to satisfy members: “the exact alignment of the route will be arrived at only after detailed consultation with the general public including landowners, and a subsequent report be brought back via Part 8 process to the full council.”

When it was put to a vote, all 17 councillors present were in agreement, one member (Cllr Flannery) was absent for the vote.

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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