The Kind of City I Want Galway to be After Covid-19

A platform in which Galway puts forward ideas on how, after the pandemic, we can transform the city for the better

TD Hildegarde Naughton; Conor Burke; and Cllr Owen Hanley.

TD Hildegarde Naughton; Conor Burke; and Cllr Owen Hanley.

Hildegarde Naughton

Fine Gael Galway West TD

Galway, as Capital of the West, has always been a special place. Galway people know it, and those from elsewhere envy it. While Covid-19 has brought sorrow and pain for so many, it is only right that we should not let the opportunity pass to reimagine our city in its aftermath.

The city is fantastic, but far from perfect. Galway is neither pedestrian nor cyclist friendly. Given its relatively small size, it should be eminently possible to walk, or cycle, through the city and its hinterland in safety and comfort.

As a first step we need to remove the need for much of the traffic to transit through the city. The Ring Road is therefore an essential part of the process. This also needs to be accompanied by dedicated Park and Ride facilities, as part of a sustainable integrated transport system, which will help reduce traffic congestion.

We have a medieval cityscape - the streets are narrow. Accommodating wider footpaths and dedicated cycle lanes is next to impossible while cars are travelling though the city in such numbers. While proceeding with the Ring Road, the Galway City Council should be encouraged to reimagine a streetscape that is not dominated by the combustion engine, and instead plan for a healthy, liveable city, with clean air.

'A far more ambitious commuter train service is also essential to making Galway more vibrant and comfortable'

I also want to see the Bus-Connects project delivered for Galway as soon as possible. This would provide dedicated bus lanes, and increased frequency, on many of the main arteries in and around the City. It would make public transport a far more viable option for people moving east to west and north to south across the City.

A far more ambitious commuter train service is also essential to making Galway more vibrant and comfortable. Like all other urban centres throughout Europe, it should be possible to live in Oranmore or Athenry or Tuam, or further afield, and avail of a regular, value for money, train service to get you to work in Galway without the need to sit in traffic for hours each day.

These initiatives are essential for our health and wellbeing; very good for business; and a requirement for the proper development of the Western region. We need to give Galway back to its people.

Conor Burke

Artist and Galway branch secretary with the Socialist Party

The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks has sparked a worldwide wave of solidarity and reflection with regard to the question of racism within society. Galway is no different with some 1,300 people taking part in the recent (socially distanced ) BLM demonstration in Eyre Square on June 6.

Holding this event in the midst of a pandemic was a highly controversial decision, but what needs to be understood is that when a movement like this is unleashed, it is not an easy thing to hold back, and it is incumbent upon all of us to understand the level of emotion, and longing for equality that is at the root of this - these things cannot simply be put back in a box until society decides it is safe to express such concerns. The logic of this argument is like hitting your thumb with a hammer and then being forbidden from expressing the pain.

'None of this is going to change, unless we change it, by getting active politically to challenge this system'

What stood out most from that demonstration was the amount of young people in attendance. As has been the case in nearly all recent movements from Marriage Equality, to Repeal of the 8th, to the #MeToo movement, and the environmental campaigns, the younger generation have been at the forefront.

As someone who is been involved in Socialist political activism for quite some time, seeing this transformation of consciousness within our society is a very positive development, but it is also one that has emerged out of necessity, because for a majority of young people, the world in which they are emerging into is one of growing inequality and exploitation, where things like access to housing, job security, a steady income and a stable climate are all under threat.

So what kind of Galway do I want to see post Covid-19? I want to see a city that begins to address the fundamental inequalities that are endemic to the capitalist system, where businesses are not forced to exploit workers just so that they can compete within the marketplace; where housing is made available for those who need it; for a single tier health services run for the public good; where the environment is prioritised ahead of profits.

I want to see a continuation of people coming to the realisation that none of this is going to change, unless we change it, by getting active politically to challenge this system.

Owen Hanley

Social Democrats Galway City East councillor

Owen Hanley 2

Galway can, and should be, a joy to live in, through-and-through. The way we achieve that is by creating a city that is more collaborative, more competitive, and more compassionate.

While a great city as is, Galway has unmet potential. Our greatest strength is our people. Over the past year as a councillor I can say it never gets old to meet somebody with a very particular and in-depth knowledge about a local park, an historic house, a long-standing volunteer group, or forgotten Galway history. In all our decision making, collaboration that is genuine is crucial, and through this co-operation we will make better, fairer, decisions for the future.

'Galway needs to live up to the lifestyle that makes us famous. A greener, safer, liveable city with opportunity and craic for all'

I want a more proactive city, where we do not wait for Dublin to save us from ourselves. I want quick and meaningful interventions by the city and county councils to support local leaders, innovators, and activists. Galway has to not only compete with cities of a similar size, but excel to be a place for workers and artists alike to make this city their home.

We also must be much more aggressive in pursuing national and European funding as a city to make up for the regional imbalances that exist, and to become the leading economic driver needed to lift the tide of all boats in Connacht.

Fundamentally, compassion must be a driving force to ensure we look out for many of our most vulnerable nieghbours who have gone ignored for too long. Galway needs to live up to the lifestyle that makes us famous. A greener, safer, liveable city with opportunity and craic for all those willing to seek it out.

 

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