The frustrating nature of traffic access to and from Parkmore was outlined at the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing into the proposed Galway City Ring Road, when a senior VP from one of the biggest Galway employers reminded the local authorities that the “tech industry had choices” when it came to locating their bases.
Tony Neary, VP and GM of Medtronic Galway told the hearing that he was representing the 10,000 people who work in Parkmore. He asked the hearing to note that number when considering his submission.
He said that on behalf of ITAG, the Parkmore Traffic Action Group and the 10,000 people who work in Parkmore, he was highlighting the key role that Galway medtech plays in the industry worldwide.
“We all recognise and are proud of Galway as a brilliant place to work and live. The world-class SFI, the connectivity of Galway, the fact that in the 15 mins that I speak here, thousands around the world will be impacted by a medical intervention order evice developed here in Galway.
“Galway is one of the top five medtech hubs in the world. But Parkmore is not just about the multinationals. There are many smaller firms who form an integral part of the ecosystem. We have 52 nationalities working in Parkmore in this ecosystem and the key component of this is people. The mobility of these people is a key part of that. We develop strategy and we are expected to deliver. Medtronic is 40 years here in Galway and if you look at an aerial photo of the plant and the area, you will see that everything has changed — except the roads network.
Galway’s medtech has choices
“None of our employees is working on a product that existed five years ago. In five years time, they will be working on products that are not yet conceived. Our job is to invent the future. While we are not mobility experts, we recognise the holistic needs for infrastructure across all modes of transport. But right now, the road is a key part of this.”
He said that the Parkmore Traffic Action group has given people options already. There are cycling facilities, a cycling buddy scheme, traffic consultants; an active HR group has been formed to understand shift patterns. “We have a role to play here and ensure that Galway succeeds. Our commitment is that we will play our part, but it has to be remembered that this industry has choices; the people of Galway do not,” he added.
'My husband works out of town, I do not have anyone to call on to collect the children, it is a stress every evening wondering if I will make it on time. It is the same for so many of the people who work in Parkmore'
Medtronic employee Deirdre Colleran made an impassioned address when she outlined the traffic realities for people working in Parkmore.
“We love Galway but we are being constrained from enjoying the city. I am representative of all the employees who work in Parkmore. The traffic situation causes us stress, frustration and anger. On a Sunday evening, you are looking at the week ahead and if the children have anything, on that means you have to make arrangements to get home from work early. My husband works away, so he does the drop offs and I do the pick ups.
“I have children who are in school, and after school and I have to collect them by 6pm. I work only 12 km from them but I have to leave work at 4.45 to make sure that I can get there by six, and often, we fail to make that deadline because of the traffic.
“This means that every day from lunchtime onwards, we are planning when we will have to leave. We see the long line of red tail-lights on the road and try to work out how long it will take us to even exit the estate.”
Stressed and frustrated
“My husband works out of town, so I do not have anyone to call on to collect the children, so it is a stress every evening wondering if I will make it on time. And it is the same for so many of the people who work in Parkmore,” she said.
She added that many parents arrive at childcare stressed and frustrated because of the traffic. “It means too that children are away from their home for longer than they should be. It places stress and strain on relationships and on health. You are vulnerable to viruses and common illnesss because you are always stuck in traffic in fumes, without exercise.
“People have left jobs because it is unsustainable to do this for a long time. The reputation of the estate goes before it. I have tried the commuter group we have in the company, and when I went cycling recently with my children, I was knocked off my bike. It should be safe to go out on the roads, but it is not.
“There are lots of days when I meet parents at work who are in tears because of the stress of the traffic and how it impacts on their lives. Children are missing out and at weekends, the thought of popping into town is not appealing because you never know how long it will take because of the traffic. In the morning time, it is the same. Very little upset can cause a major issue in Galway traffic. A bit of rain or a small crash and the whole place is backed up. We have to address it. Health and families are suffering and people are at breaking point,” she concluded.