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1,000 city businesses face having their water cut off



Date Published: 03-Jun-2010

By Dara Bradley

MORE than a thousand city businesses are on the verge of having their water supply cut-off because they have failed to pay their local authority water rates charges, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

And the failure by businesses to pay their water rates and commercial rates means Galway City Council is facing a shortfall in funding of almost €21 million this year, which could have serious repercussions for the services it provides.

New figures reveal that an astonishing 1,600 of the 2,700 businesses in Galway City who are obliged to pay water charges to Galway City Council are in arrears.

Of these 1,600, a total of 1,027 businesses and other metered buildings (hospitals, schools etc) are in serious danger of having their water turned-off – they are in the ‘critical’ category because they owe more than €100 for a period of over 56 days.

Once a business owes more than €100 for more than 56 days, efforts are stepped up to recoup the arrears – the longer the outstanding bill isn’t paid and the higher the amount owed the more likely businesses are to be cut-off and/or brought to court.

Between January 2009 and May this year around 100 business or metered premises have had their water supply stopped because of outstanding bills and as of yesterday 15 in arrears premises in the city were without water.

The Council has confirmed that as of this week it is owed a total of €3.2 million in unpaid water rates bills.

The Council has also confirmed that in addition to unpaid water rates bills it is owed roughly €18.5 million in unpaid commercial rates from business since the beginning of 2009.

“We are not gone bust and we will continue to provide the services but it is obviously a very serious situation,” said a Council spokesperson.

The biggest users of water are schools and other educational institutions, hospitals, and hotels. The spokesperson insisted the Council would not be writing off the debt, even if the businesses in question had gone bust.

 “The debt is still a debt and is still there even if the business closes and even if businesses have been cut off, we will be pursuing the debt,” he said.

The Council insists that its water charges are among the cheapest in the country after it installed new equipment and carried out upgrade works at the city’s treatment plants in 2007 and after, following the cryptosporidium contamination crisis. It charges €1.75 per cubic metre of water which actually costs €1.90 to produce.

The Council spokesperson appealed to business who may be finding it difficult to pay their water or commercial rates to contact them and not ignore the problem.

“We are not writing off any of this debt but a repayment plan can be worked out with businesses who are in difficulty,” he said.


For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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