Tourist hotspots in the city could face closure at the beginning of the high season with the axing of a hugely successful community employment scheme (CES) which provided manpower to keep them open.
The Galway Civic Trust or Dúchas na Gaillimhe has managed up to 24 long-time unemployed people annually for the past 20 years.
Under the scheme, projects like the Hall of the Red Earl, the Fishery Watchtower Museum and the Circle of Life Garden have been completed and are now open to the public.
It is Dúchas that has withdrawn its sponsorship of the scheme from June 2 citing “increasing risk and the regulatory environment”.
The scheme’s supervisor Caroline McNeill, who now faces redundancy after seven years, said she has been told it is due to concerns about compensation claims.
“We are an exceptional scheme. We are compliant with the Department on every occasion and we get audited twice a year on finances and on the progression of individuals. We had a progression rate of 84% – this year it was 100% as one person left to run a bar and the other set up her own design company,” she explained.
The scheme has trained participants as guides, who then work in the Hall of the Red Earl which last year attracted over 35,000 visitors. The footbridge to the Fishery Watchtower Museum was only completed two years ago at a cost of €15,000 and is only open due to CES staff.
Other work undertaken includes the clean-up of Galway Waterways, the restoration of the stone boat slipway at Woodquay, St Augustine’s Holy Well, Bollingbroke Fort and Tea House Folly at Dangan. In addition, workers have carried out conservation works at Mutton Island Lighthouse and Keepers Cottage, along with maintenance work at the Circle of Life Garden, Salthill.
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