Ballinasloe is the beating heart of Ireland – it’s a gateway between the east and the west and part of the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand.
These were the sentiments expressed by Dr. Evelyn Parsons, a member of the Ballinasloe Says No group, which is opposed to the construction and operation of the Poolboy Waste Transfer Station on the outskirts of the town.
In recent weeks an application was sought for a facility permit at the station and so enraged by this, were the members, they set about raising local awareness to get as many signatures as possible to oppose the move.
They were successful in their endeavours because just last week they handed in over 2,000 objections in opposition to the waste transfer station to Galway County Council.
‘A hidden gem’
Parsons, meanwhile, pointed to the hidden gems in Balliansloe, and how it serves as the gateway town for the east meets west in Ireland’s heartlands.
We see that we have a lot to offer the tourism industry; we see a pool of visitors.
She continued: “We see people from Center Parcs which is only an hour up the road from here.
“They will be looking for activities and eco-friendly experiences – like walks, trails, getting close to nature and exploring the local environment and its heritage.
“We can provide them with all of that.
“We have the River Suck Callows Special Protection Area with its uniquely sensitive biodiversity and five other European sites within a short radius.
“We also have unparalleled access to ecclesiastical sites including Clonfert and Clonmacnoise, Killconnell Abbey, Clontuskert, the Aughrim battlefields – all of this offers huge potential to Ballinasloe and tourists to the area.”
‘A healthy, vibrant, active town’
The Ballinasloe Says No member went on to say that there was also huge potential in the area to provide jobs and create a vibrant, thriving industry in and around the second biggest town in Co. Galway.
This waste transfer facility is not in keeping with the image that we want to promote for our town.
Parsons added: “We want to promote a healthy, vibrant, active image of Ballinasloe – one that will attract, not repel, tourists.
“We are also a community that has for years, and decades, opened our hearts to the sick, the wounded, the lame and the infirm – and not just to those in Ballinasloe, but to the whole of Galway and beyond.
“We are a caring community; we have within our community here people with hearts that heal and can extend hospitality to anyone with any sort of need.
“We do not want a dump in this area, we do not want a waste transfer station in this area, we do not want people to suffer the pollution and the health ill-effects of particulate matter.
“Everyone knows that waste has got to be managed responsibly but the location of a hazardous facility so close to a densely populated residential area is totally unsuitable on health grounds.
“We don’t want traffic and road safety issues for residents, or the risk of fire breaking out at this site or the pollution of our air.
“We’ve got children; we’ve got schools, the hospital, people with health-needs – all of these need to be looked after – within 2km of this site .
“We are a caring community in Ballinasloe and we want to responsibly look after our environment, our wildlife and most especially our people – we do not want to make them sick.”