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2020 will see Galway set for €45m windfall



Galway's 2020 Capital of Culture success will depend on investment in key infrastructure such as a concert hall and/or convention centre

Galway is set to be on the receiving end of a €45 million windfall to prepare the city and county for its tenure as the European Capital of Culture in 2020.

That’s according to Galway Government backbencher Hildegarde Naughten, who urged that the development of a world-class convention centre in the city should be a priority in advance of Galway’s reign.

With 2020 expected to attract an additional one million tourists to the city, Deputy Naughton pinpointed the convention centre as an infrastructural priority, which she claims would be an ideal legacy of the Capital of Culture year.

“Something that we’re missing in Galway is a large-scale concert and convention centre, evidenced by the fact that the largest such facility in the west is located in Co Mayo,” she said.

“We have an opportunity to address that deficit now, and an iconic convention centre would be a fantastic legacy from Galway’s year as the European Capital of Culture.”

Such a centre could be developed as part of a new cultural quarter on council lands adjacent to the Black Box theatre on the Dyke Road, where a €25-million library and cultural centre is already planned, she said.

“The possibilities for such an amenity are clear,” continued Deputy Naughton. “The fact that the Galway International Arts Festival requires a temporary arena in the form of the Big Top each year suggests that something is missing here.

“Aside from the potential for its use as a concert venue; conferences and conventions constitute a high-value sector where there is a significant demand at present.

“The economic value of a conference delegate is two to three times higher than a leisure tourist, and there is a multitude of professions and industries that would love to hold conventions in Galway if an appropriate venue was available.

“The development of a concert and convention centre as part of the 2020 preparations, therefore, should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense.

“It would be a great addition from the perspective of the arts, tourism and industry; and would be a lasting and iconic legacy from this historic celebration of Galway’s excellence as a Capital of Culture,” she added.

Connacht Tribune

Six schools perform with distinction during EU Model Council Debate on the EU’s Renewable Energy Transition



Model Council Debate in City Hall

By Barbara Nolan, Head of the European Commission Representation in Dublin

The results are in from the 2023 Model Council of the European Union debating competition. Six teams rose above 21 other secondary schools across Ireland for their convincing portrayal of the positions taken by EU Ministers for Energy while discussing how to accelerate the EU’s Renewable Energy Transition.

The debate mirrors the format of a real meeting of the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers) so students can explore how the EU decision-making process works. The Model Council has been organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland every year since 2007. The 2023 event was held in City Hall in Dublin.

Scoil Muire agus Pádraig from Mayo won first place for their representation of Poland during the debate. Second place went to Christ King Secondary School from Cork, and third place to Deansrath Community College from Dublin. Those schools role-played Slovakia and Hungary respectively.

Honourable mentions were given to the following schools: Ardscoil Rís in Dublin as Croatia: Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk in Kerry as Czechia and Loreto Secondary School Kilkenny as Belgium.

The event opened with an address by Maria Walsh, MEP representing Ireland Midlands-North-West constituency, who emphasised the significance of the 50th anniversary since Ireland joined the EEC. The debate itself discussed ways to increase the share of renewable energy within the EU, a challenge that has been brought into sharp focus since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The energy sector is responsible for over 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, increasing the share of renewable energy is a key building block in reaching the EU’s energy and climate objectives under the European Green Deal. This aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels), and for Europe to become a climate neutral continent by 2050.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked an energy crisis in Europe. In response, the Commission published the REPowerEU plan that aims to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels well before 2030 by accelerating the clean energy transition. REPowerEU is based on three pillars: saving energy, producing clean energy and diversifying the EU’s energy supplies. The Commission proposes to increase the EU renewable energy target to 45% by 2030 – all this was discussed in the Model Council Debate.

Significant challenges remain but a collective effort is underway, across the EU, to reach ambitious renewable energy targets. Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed to reform the EU’s electricity market to accelerate a surge in renewables and phase-out gas, to protect consumers from price spikes related to fossil fuels, and to make the EU’s industry clean and more competitive. These proposals will be discussed by the real EU Ministers for Energy next month.


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Connacht Tribune

More than 200 complaints from county over financial and pensions issues



There were over 200 complaints from Galway to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman over the course of 2022, according to the annual report published last week.

The Ombudsman, Liam Sloyan, received 207 complaints from Galway residents during 2022, as his office delivered outcomes worth over €5 million to consumers in 2022.

“In addition to the financial outcomes totalling over €5 million for individual complainants, the Office played its full part in enhancing the financial services and pensions environment, including in relation to the exit of two major banking providers,” he said.

“The departure of two major financial service providers from the Irish market posed the potential for a high volume of complaints to be made to this Office.

“It is notable that by the end of 2022, the FSPO had received less than 100 complaints identified as relating to market exit. The FSPO collaboratively engaged with stakeholders, including the providers leaving the market, sharing information and making every effort to progress these complaints as quickly as possible, within our resources. It is very positive that, to date, for the vast majority of impacted consumers, the departure of two major banks has not given rise to issues leading to a complaint being made to this Office,” he added.

In all, 4,781 complaints were received in 2022, a slight increase of 123 complaints received in 2021; 4,647 complaints were closed in 2022.

The report revealed that 28% of complaints concerned an issue of customer service; 80% were made by complainants in the Republic of Ireland, with one in five complaints reflecting the cross-border nature of financial services markets.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway student achieves Best in World ranking in accountancy exams



Lucy O’Donoghue receiving an award marking her top ACCA result in Ireland from Ronnie Patton (left) Deputy President of ACCA Global, and Mick Bristow, Lecturer with

A Galway City student is celebrating success in her ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) exams where she achieved first in Ireland and 19th place in the world in her Financial Management exam. student Lucy O’Donoghue had completed a Masters in International Management from University of Galway and joined the graduate programme at the Central Bank.

And with her interest in the areas of business, finance and strategic management, she said the next logical step was to look at studying for ACCA qualifications with

“When I was starting out on my ACCA journey, it was a bit daunting – twelve exams felt like a mammoth task and at times the road felt never-ending,” she said.

“So, I think the best advice I would give to someone in a similar situation would be not to get bogged down by how far you have to go – take it exam-by-exam and keep chipping away at it. Eventually it will all come together!” – based on Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin – is a Platinum Approved Learning Partner of the ACCA, the globally recognised accountancy qualification.

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