The first six months of the year have seen a marked increase in homelessness being experienced in Galway City, according to statistics released by COPE Galway.
On one night at the start of June COPE were working with 148 households who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Included in these numbers were 157 adults and, worryingly, 94 children.
With the huge shortage of social housing and the increase in rent costs currently being experienced in Galway, this has “caused a near perfect storm”, according to Martin O’Connor, Assistant CEO of COPE Galway.
COPE Galway operates to provide services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic violence and for older people living independently in the community.
The services provided by the charity focus on working with and supporting individuals to address underlying issues which contributed to their homelessness and to identify and secure move-on housing.
Having recently gone to Facebook in an appeal for blankets, the assistant CEO explained that appeals of this nature were nothing out of the ordinary for a charity like COPE Galway.
“[The appeal] is nothing out of the ordinary. Cope regularly carry out these appeals to help the people sleeping rough or even for the people moving on, [it’s both] beneficial and a support mechanism” explained Mr. O’Connor.
The Assistant CEO revealed some of the factors that have lead to the increase in homelessness in Galway City.
“[The] current shortage of housing in both the social housing and private rented sector and ever-increasing rent levels means that homelessness is something more and more people will experience,” warned Mr. O’Connor.
The homeless population in Galway has generally seen a higher proportion of men than women and children experiencing homelessness.
In recent times, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of families experiencing homelessness in Galway.
“Over the past ten or so weeks there has been … an unprecedented level of demand for emergency accommodation in Galway city with the growth in the numbers of families becoming homeless especially concerning.”
The number of households in emergency accommodation on June 2 and June 3 was 64.
Included in these numbers, were 19 families with a total of 37 children having to be accommodated on this night.
This shocking statistic is partly as a result of issues in the wider housing market. On top of this social, personal and health issues are always rearing their heads.
To be considered as suffering from long term homelessness, one needs to be homeless for six consecutive months. This figure has risen in Galway with many people continually struggling to secure housing, be it private or social.
This has led to more people availing of emergency accommodation as well as the general increase in numbers of people experiencing homelessness.
The average time people have spent in emergency accommodation or spent availing of homeless facilities has seen an increase over the years.
“The average several years ago was between four and five weeks, whereas nowadays it’s between seven and nine weeks” said Mr. O’Connor. He pointed out that “people are struggling to move through the services.”
Issues surrounding housing in Galway have been well documented.
Cllr Catherine Connolly was critical of the level of investment in social housing after the government announced the plan to build 518 houses in Galway by 2017.
“While any proposal to build additional social housing units has to be welcomed, the government’s initiative utterly fails to grasp the depth of the housing crisis in Galway City,” she said.
In the most recent quarterly report from the City Council Housing Department showed that the current number of households on the waiting list stands at 4,041, this doesn’t include the 370 households on the County waiting list, with a further 75 applications currently waiting to be processed.
Coupling this with the skyrocketing rental costs there is scope for this problem to continue to grow.
The cost of renting a three-bed house in city has soared to €945, according to Daft.ie.
This is backed up by the fact that the majority of families seeking assistance are coming out of the private rented accommodation sector.
Martín O’Connor, says further provision of affordable social housing is the only solution to the growing problem of homelessness in the city.
US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots
An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.
Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.
The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.
Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”
One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.
“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.
“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”
Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists
The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’
At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.
It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.
Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.
As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.
It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.
Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.
Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star
It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.
On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.
He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.
Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.
“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.
“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.
Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.
But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.
The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.
See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie