A city councillor and former mayor has this week called on the Friends of Merlin Woods group not to appeal the decision by Galway City Council to grant planning for a new Galway Hospice building to An Bord Pleanala.
Cllr Michael Crowe has said that any such appeal would delay and possibly scupper the entire project, which is much needed in the region. “I am delighted that the council agreed that planning should be granted in Merlin Park for this much needed development," he said last evening. "It will consist of 36 specialist palliative care beds, a day care centre, therapy rooms and some educational facilities. The whole of Galway and indeed the west of Ireland knows how much this is facility is needed. We cannot delay it any further.
“The Friends of Merlin Woods made a submission to Galway City Council. Their views have been considered. The planning permission has been granted but subject to nineteen conditions. These conditions have regard to all the Friends of Merlin Woods concerns and indeed concerns and views in all submissions that were made.
"For example, one condition stipulates there must be a suitably qualified project ecologist appointed. This individual would have significant powers including a call to cease work if that is necessary. That alone is a stand out condition which highlights that the planners have regard for the environmental concerns," he added.
In recent days the Friends of Merlin Woods have confirmed that they are going to appeal the planning to the planning body, but Cllr Crowe believes that this is not in the best interests of the people of Galway.
"It will lead to significant delays to the project and will push out the commencement of the development, possibly by years. It could in fact put the whole project in to doubt. I am asking them not to appeal this decision. Their concerns have been heard and considered. It makes no sense to me for them to do this. Every day families from all over the Connacht region and beyond are asking the Hospice to help. In many cases it is to give comfort and dignity to people in their final days.
"The additional beds along with the increase in services that this development will bring is critical in helping people and families in the coming years. There is also an enormous number of individuals and organisations that put in voluntary time working with the Hospice in various capacities whether that’s helping out with people who need assistance or fundraising who deserve to see this project proceed.”
“The Friends of Merlin Woods cannot say they are not against the development of a new Hospice but will appeal the planning because they do not like where it is. The reality is that the majority of the Councillors support it, the planners support it and it is fair to say the majority of the people in Galway support it. That should be enough. For all those reasons but more importantly in the best interests of families in the future who will need the Hospice services, I respectfully request the Friends of Merlin Woods to do the graceful thing and not appeal this decision," he concluded.