The bypass that doesn’t pass by — the joke’s on Galway

Thu, Dec 04, 2008

The news that came out of An Bord Pleanala on Tuesday that the Galway City Outer Bypass has been consigned to history is a massive blow to Galway’s chances of ever really developing the sort of infrastructure it needs to put this city on a level footing with the other major cities. The news has been greeted with dismay by people who have a strong commitment to seeing Galway get the sort of facilities it deserves if it ever hopes to genuinely be this country’s third city. It has been welcomed by those who opposed it on grounds of proximity, ecological concerns and perhaps in some cases, by people who object on a point of principle, no matter the location throughout the country. For the tens of thousands of others who were looking forward to Galway’s transport infrastructure getting a shot in the arm, it is bad news. Every year we are slipping further and further behind the other cities which must be laughing at Galway’s ability to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to providing the sort of infrastructure that cities by their nature need if they are to carry on being cities and not become bottlenecks. We had the same thing with Mutton Island. Months in meeting-hours were spent at city council level trying to get this through, and now even its original detractors have to admit that the sky did not fall in. With any major infastructural development, there are worthy merits and demerits, and the Galway City Outer Bypass was no different in that regard. No doubt, it would have had a major detrimental effect on the quality of life in picturesque areas such as Ballindooley and Bushypark. It would cut through the natural environment like a sword, but the nature of modern geography is to change the landscape to allow people to live in the times they are living. Other countries such as the UK manage to have broader and noisier roadways cutting through its green heart and over time they blend in, as the realisation of their necessity overrides any localised objection. But they get built. Even the motorway through the heart of Tara got the go-ahead in the end. What we were left with in Monday’s ruling is a sort of joke, an Irish joke. A joke on Galway. The bypass that does everything but allow you to pass by the area it is meant to be bypassing. And so Galway commuters will face the crawl around the city for another decade with little idea of what will be put forward as an alternative to the bypass. Thankfully, the N6 is motoring along and should be open on time, but that will do little to alleviate the city’s traffic problems where there is a massive imbalance on the location of schools and industrial estates, necessitating river and city crossings. Now the upshot of it all is that we must go back to the drawing board and start from a clean slate. We have to ask what is really achievable and what is not. How realistic is GLUAS? If it is, then let’s go down that line, but at €200 million, that too looks like a non-runner. Are bus lanes really working? Can we get people to cycle to work? Will there be work to cycle and drive to? The officials who will be charged with picking up the pieces of this decision have a lot to occupy their minds. However, let’s look at ourselves. Cork has had its tunnel for several years now; the one under the Shannon will be open in Limerick in about 24 months, and in Galway, well, zilch. Let’s hope that the programmes on the radio are interesting for the next decade, cos we’re going to be stuck in traffic for many many more years to come.

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Thermo losses and ‘nail-gate’ show we’re not laughing anymore

Thu, Nov 27, 2008

No-one’s laughing anymore. If anyone thought that the cold bite of recession was just a wind on the faraway hills, then think again. Last evening’s announcement in Thermo King that 110 employees are to lose their jobs and Tuesday’s revelation that jobs are to be lost in Tuam’s Valeo Vision Systems brings the realisation closer to home that everyone is going to feel the cold snap in the near future. And with that mindset among us, it is all the more galling to hear the attitude of Fas executives try to justify their extravagant business expenses this week and behave as if they are still living on an alternate planet to ourselves.

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Leave the engines running and avoid the parking charge

Thu, Nov 20, 2008

When you drive into work tomorrow morning, before you get out of your car, just sit there and enjoy the experience, feel the ground beneath your wheels, appreciate the view that your car has all day while you’re at work. Because from January, that privilege is going to cost you. Yes, that is cost you on top of the fee being paid by your company.

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Party cities are fuelling the business that killed Shane Geoghegan

Thu, Nov 13, 2008

It is frightening to realise that it was just an hour or so down the road in our sister western city that the brutal killing of Shane Geoghegan took place last weekend. As thousands flocked to his funeral yesterday afternoon, the revulsion in that city is shared by all around the country.

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Now, isn’t it high time we had a Traveller Taoiseach

Thu, Nov 06, 2008

There is a great feeling around the world today, that at last the good guys have won out, that the forces of oppression that kept the White House out of the grasp of the non-whites (Condi and Colin Powell excepted) have at last been overtaken in a mass coming together of goodness. And we are all entitled to feel proud of what has been achieved in the US, that yet another barrier has been broken, that like in South Africa, another last bastion of inherent apartheid has been shattered and that the American dream has been taken one step further. And all over the world, those who supported Obama are patting themselves on the back and are rightly proud of what this suave senator has achieved in just a few short years, even if he has been helped by the ineptitude of his opponents, but then as Napoleon said, every battle requires a large amount of luck. And all around the world, (and especially here in Old and New Europe) there is a sort of snobbery that it has taken so long for this supposedly sophisticated democracy to allow access to its top post to a person from a minority culture. When Sarah Palin emerged, the same people laughed at her ordinary-ness and at the fact she had not travelled much beyond her own continent. And so we are thinking that at last America is thinking like the rest of us. But in reality, that is not the case. This election has shown that they are ahead. The victory has been welcomed by the luvvies. And those who proclaim themselves liberal. And we all like to think of ourselves as liberal as nobody wants to think that their mind is anything but free and open to new ideas. But let’s see just how liberal we are here in Ireland. How likely is it that a Traveller will ever emerge as a leader of our Government? You would get long odds on that, especially since many of the basic rights long denied the African-American community are the ones that they have to face life without? For many years, parents were put off schools that catered generously for Travellers. And so denied education, they are denied opportunity and fairness, and so throughout life, they are prohibited from achieving what others can. You can be sure that many of the people who stayed up all night to celebrate the dawning of a new era with the election of Obama would be less than impressed if a convoy of Travellers pitched up on their local football pitch. It always amazes me how concerned people get for the welfare of Travellers when they pitch up on the front lawn. In Ireland, often the word RACISM is misspelt NIMBY. You can also be sure that the people who ring in here with short messages every time we put a person who is non-national in a prominent photograph; that the people who think twice before using a taxi being driven by a person who is not a Caucasian; may too have gone around today with a warm feeling in their hearts about Obama, glad that one form of racism has been tackled, but also enforcing the stereotyping that we create every day. We all play a role in determining and preserving stereotypes — this is done through the business of advertising, through the business of media, but mostly through the business of life. Only when the day comes that we can truly say that every person in this country has the same opportunity to sit in the Taoiseach’s seat in Leinster House or to become President of our own country, will we be really sharing in the principles that Barack Obama and Martin Luther King have both espoused, but who have so far never got the chance to put into practice. Remember, it is not just America that Obama has to change. We all have to play our own part.

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Two old blocks - which one to chop?

Thu, Oct 30, 2008

Two blocks of a similar size – one of brass, the other plasticine. Which one would displace the most water when dropped into a beaker? If you don't know the answer, then maybe it's time you headed back to school – or maybe not.

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Let’s all resign...for the principle of it

Thu, Oct 23, 2008

Hasn’t this been a mad week? It’s so mad, I’ve been tempted to resign in disgust or threaten to resign in disgust because hey, after all that is what everyone who is anybody is doing these days. If they’re not resigning, they’re withdrawing their support. Or refusing to clarify if they will support someone. We thought the last few weeks were mad with the banks collapsing, the developers imploding and a mad moosehunter being just a dodgy skin cell away from the White House. But this week takes the biscuit. For a short while there, we nearly had a general election.

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How about ya now? — It’s retro time

Thu, Oct 16, 2008

It was kinda inevitable that when the news came through yesterday that the Saw Doctors were No 1 for the first time in a few decades, we were facing into a blast from the past. The punked-up version of ‘About Ya Now’ was symbolic on a day when a cold blast of the wind of reality was blowing ‘about us now.’ With the fashion for all things retro, flares boot cuts and mullets, it was only a matter of time before we got retro economics. For the first time in their lives, there are many Irish citizens who are only this evening absorbing the true reality of this year’s budget. And accepting that the good times are over.

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Memories of the week when summer

Thu, Oct 09, 2008

Now that the evenings are getting dark and the end of year is setting in, the city takes on a new complexion. All of a sudden, darkness falls shortly after teatime as the summer city gives way to the winter and the shadows fall like a stage curtain.

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Farewell to the west, we’re off to Leinster

Thu, Oct 02, 2008

Welcome to the world of the quick fix. Something bugging you? Have you done wrong in your past? Well, fret no more because this is the week that the world is turning the clock back and crushing any skeletons you may have in your cupboards. Are you a bank executive? Have you frittered away millions and still expect to get paid a sweet bonus? Do not worry, we can wipe all that away from you. Are you a hurling team which hasn’t won a title in 20 years? Not a problem either folks. Just sign on the dotted line here and we can whisk you away to another province. Welcome to the era of the quick fix where if you don’t like it, you can get it fixed. With the internet buzzing with spam emails offering boob enhancements for women and endowments for men that would make an elephant blush in the shower room, this is the era of want it, must have it. Now. Even Halloween has been shafted this year and with the Budget on in two weeks, we can go straight to Christmas. Yes, it’s a choice of freedom or crucifixion, to quote the Life of Brian. And this in the era when the birds are falling out of the hedge funds with the hunger and the world has gone mad with the PDs close to death and Galway United simultaneously one game from Europe and one game from the First Division.

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We’ve been badly let down again

Thu, Sep 25, 2008

‘Tis hard to kill off the Mervues, the Bohermores, the Claddaghs and the Shantall-ians. It is no coincidence that the four areas that are in the headlines this week are communities that house the hardiest people in the city. Homes to dozens of centenarians, and families of amazing strength and tenacity, it is these bastions of auld Galway that are in the eye of the current storm.

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Wanna go to a party at my place?

Thu, Sep 18, 2008

They do say that opportunity never knocks twice and now that a vacuum has been created in Irish politics, I feel I am ideally placed to take full advantage. Line up, line up, you’re just in time for the launch of my new political party. It will change the mouldiness of civil war politics. It will make a positive contribution to Irish politics. It will be called Clann na Nobs (as in the gaeilge for the family of the no-bullshitters)

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Will the PDs be killed by fatal shots from the grassy Noel?

Thu, Sep 11, 2008

Just six years and a few months ago, Noel Grealish walked along the prom in Salthill. He strolled alone, deep in his thoughts. It was a balmy summer evening, the likes of which we can only now drool about. For that short walk, many thoughts went through his mind on this, one of the most important evenings of his life.

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Get off that couch, your locality needs you

Thu, Sep 04, 2008

Now that the September meeting of the Galway Races is upon us this weekend, sure we may as well be dusting down the Christmas trees, the winter is heading in so fast. And when we’re done bitching about the weather, let us take a step back and see is there any way that we can make a major contribution this winter to making Galway a better place for a lot of vulnerable people.

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Travellers and the flame

Thu, Aug 14, 2008

The Travelling community are no strangers to hardship. And tragedy. And fire. The relationship between their beliefs and the spiritual power of fire and its ability to cleanse out past tragedies is well documented. The use of the flame to burn homes and vehicles in which someone has died has long been a custom.

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Will we win a middle at the lympics?

Thu, Aug 07, 2008

There are just 24 hours to go before the fireworks are lit and the Beijing Olympics gets underway, propelling us into three weeks of wonder, amazement and wondering where they got those drugs from.

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A trick here, a trick there

Thu, Jul 31, 2008

Everyone gets a gig during race week. For those who want it, and even for those who don't' - there's always an opportunity to turn a few tricks. A trick here, a trick there. It's as if the world will end come Sunday and a great opportunity to make money will have been lost. And long may it continue. Whether it's lucky Biros outside the races, or bands —any band worth its salt never sees a pillow all Race Week. A trick here, a trick there. B and B. Clear the back room, Bridie, get out the auld duvet. Crank up the toaster...Roll them in, kerrching. Ten thousand gallons of carrot juice. Sprayers attached to the hoses...line up ladies, close those eyes, it's tanning time...kerrching...beer garden, beer streets more like — plastic beakers...no washing up, thanks guard for that one —kerrching. A trick here, a trick there.

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O’Connor case a reminder of how vulnerable we all are

Thu, Jul 24, 2008

The very sad case of Sandra O’Connor reached a sort of conclusion yesterday when her family settled their case against the Galway Clinic.

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Farewell, Moate my old friend

Thu, Jul 17, 2008

With memories still fresh of being hurriedly force-fed fried eggs and rashers in Harry’s of Kinnegad while fat bus drivers scoffed down complimentary meals just yards away; or of eating copious amounts of apple tart in the Village Inn in Tyrrellspass, the news this week that never again will I be stuck in Moate, is just too hard to take.

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