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Tests show four times ‘official’ level of grease in waterways



Boat owners in the Claddagh have taken their own water samples which show over four times the level of grease compared to the City Council tests.

The discharge of oils, fats and greases into the city’s waterways has been an ongoing issue for many years, but the upgrade of the sewage system on Lower Dominick Street which connected up businesses and homes to the public sewer was meant to have solved the problem.

However, while the raw sewage being pumped into the water became a thing of the past before the influx of international visitors for the Volvo Ocean Race, residents insist the problem of ugly deposits of grease floating around the Claddagh Basin became worse with the increase in eateries across the west end area of the city.

Michael Coyne, who has been one of the most vocal campaigners on the problem, met with officials in June after a meeting was arranged by local councillor, Catherine Connolly.

They did a site survey and took a sample, which showed the levels of fats, greases and oils was 50mg/L, which they said was well within normal levels.

“We had to laugh. To be honest it made us mad. I don’t know where they took the sample from but it wasn’t the Claddagh Basin.  We decided to take matters into our own hands and get our own tests done,” stated Michael.

The samples sent to the Health Service Executive (HSE) laboratory were taken from three locations in early June – the Canal at Dominick Street, which showed a level of 84mg/L; Claddagh Bankeen Corrib, which registered at 8mg/L and Claddagh Quay, that came back at 214mg/L.

“The lab technician told us that 214mg/L was definitely pollution, poison. All you have to do is go behind Dominick Street and look at the wastewater on Eglinton Canal and you’ll see the pollution.”

Cllr Connolly said she was satisfied with the response of officials, who promptly came to meet with residents and conduct tests.

She had sent the residents’ test results to Irish Water and they accepted there as a big difference in levels.

Cllr Connolly said work on connecting properties to the public sewer meant that there were no longer direct discharges of sewerage or grease into the canal.

Workers had used the lower water levels in recent weeks during work on the locked gates to double check that no discharges were going into the canal.

“So why is there still grease in the canal? It would seem it’s not there all the time. This could be somebody dumping this into the water. It could be coming from further upstream, it could be from one of a number of streams feeding into the canal,” she insisted.

“It’s very hard to catch anyone doing this. It’s like littering. It’s an education process, like with litter.”

Irish Water are due in January to introduce a licensing system for food businesses which would make it compulsory for them to install a grease trap.

However, this would reduce blockages in the Mutton Island sewerage system rather than the surface water of the canal.

“As a councillor, I was delighted the raw sewerage finally stopped being pumped into the canal. There are still one or two discharges on Nun’s Island. That’s real progress,” she stated.

“Hopefully when the licensing system is introduced it will raise awareness about dumping oil into the water.”

She had asked officials to install a boom near McGuire’s Daybreak Shop which prevented surface water going into the Claddagh Basin.

“This also serves to bring to people’s attention the outcome of dumping into the water.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said the licensing system may well have an impact on surface water as it would ensure any businesses that sell hot food would have to show they are properly disposing of grease.

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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