Galway Races 'under threat from bypass', says course manager
The outgoing manager of the Galway Racecourse has hit out at the proposed city bypass route, warning that the races are in jeopardy as a result.
The racecourse will see stables demolished in order to make way for a tunnel as part of the planned route across the city.
As the racecourse makes final preparations for its bumper race week, John Moloney said he and the rest of the racecourse management were no clearer on how the races would continue if the bypass plans went ahead.
Work on the planned by-pass is earmarked to begin in 2017 and could last three years.
While the actual racecourse would not be impacted by the plans, the scheme would involve demolition of stables, which will cause massive disruption, said Mr Moloney.
"We are no better off now than we were six months ago. There is still a huge amount of uncertainty and we still have no general idea what is going to happen and when," he said.
The planned tunnel will run directly below the current stables, with the result that they must now be relocated.
Mr Moloney said: "It (the site of the stables) will be out of commission and we won't be able to build back on it.
"They (the planners) have to get us a replacement for the stables and they have not come up with any location that is suitable so far. The stables are vital to this business."
While work on the planned bypass won't begin until 2017 at the earliest, Mr Moloney said the course needed clarity on the plans now.
"It's a while away, but it's still a huge worry. We are looking at serious disruption.
"I cannot believe that the council and road officials would interfere with an organisation that brings in €60m every year to Galway.
"This is not a one-off, the races have been running since 1869. Big festivals come and go but the races happen every year," he added.
"I'm very disappointed that they would treat us this way. This is the bread and butter for a lot of businesses in Galway."
Meanwhile, residents in Castlegar have called for the plans to be scrapped now if officials want to avoid a long legal battle.
They warned that legal action would result in the process being stalled for many more years.
A total of 41 homeowners will see their houses demolished as part of the plans, with a further 10 homes severely impacted.