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Work on N59 may jeopardise major upgrade later



Galway County Council is looking to carry out short term repairs to the N59 between Oughterard and Maam Cross – but with a warning that such measures could undermine long-term plans.

Local councillors expressed fears this week that limited repair work could mean that the major upgrading project on this section of the N59 would be totally scuppered.

The Director for Roads Services in Galway County Council, Liam Gavin, told a Connemara councillors meeting this week that there were serious concerns about the state of the road and that the plan for a major upgrade was stalled.

This is because the National Parks and Wildlife Service is not giving the go-ahead to the County Council’s work plans for the project.

The Council had believed, Mr Gavin said, that they would have been in a position to go ahead with the major upgrading plan between Oughterard and Maam Cross, at this stage.

Bord Pleanála gave development permission for the upgrade over two years ago, but a condition was attached that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) would first have to be in agreement with the work plan before the commencement of the project.

Environmental issues and the protection of the pearl mussel in the Owenriff River catchment are the sticking points.

Mr Gavin said that eight documents relating to various aspects of the work scheme had been sent by the County Council team to the National Parks and Wildlife Service; only two of them had been responded to so far – and there is no time limit on this process.

The report from Mr Gavin led to bitter criticism of the National Parks and Wildlife Service by Councillors.

Councillor Thomas Welby said that the quandary facing engineers as regards the section from Oughterard to Maam Cross was understandable.

However, he said “if we take the resurfacing option we are faced with having no proper road” in the long run.

Councillor Welby said the pressure from the NPWS was stifling in Connemara; the pearl mussel existed in a number of places – Kilkenny being one of them – and it seemed that developments required by the community could go on.   Councillor Séamus Walsh said the stand-off should be brought to Minister Heather Humphreys table.  He said he had experienced a lot of public disquiet about the hold-up and that it could come to people taking action such as blocking the road.

Connemara Municipal Authority Chairman, Noel Thomas, said it would be highly unfortunate if there were personality clashes getting in the way.

“I’m sure there are many mitigation measures outlined,” he said.

Councillor Tom Curran said it was strange that the National Parks and Wildlife Service could “hold up everything” and that “if was not the pearl mussel it would be something else”.

Councillor Joe Folan said that the situation was unbelievable with people in a wide area of Connemara being forced to travel on such a “terrible road” because of the impasse involving the NPWS.

Councillors Seán Ó Tuairisg, Thomas Healy and Eileen Mannion expressed strong disappointment about the hold-up on the N59 development and Councillor Niamh Byrne said that it appeared the short term work would have to be done. Director of Roads Services, Liam Gavin said that a plan would have to be formulated for the overlay work and that it could be early next year before the actual surfacing could begin.

In the meantime, every effort would be made to get over the hold-up that is stopping the major upgrade between Oughterard and Maam Cross.

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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