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‘Animals better off’ than asylum seekers, City Council is told



Farm animals are living in better conditions than asylum seekers in Direct Provision in the city, it has been claimed.

Galway City Council has unanimously backed a motion calling for government to disband the “inhumane” Direct Provision centres.

“There are farmers in parts of this country who keep heifers in better facilities than these people are living in,” said Fianna Fáil’s Mike Crowe, who proposed the motion.

The Direct Provision system in Ireland is the scandal of our generation, he said.

“This will be our mini-Magdalen Laundries’ scandal when we look back in 10 or 20 years’ time at how these people are treated,”

Councillor Crowe said there are two Direct Provision centres in Galway – Eglinton Hotel in Salthill and the Great Western off Eyre Square – where asylum seekers are living in “appalling conditions” as they await their asylum applications to be processed.

The Direct Provision system was supposed to be a temporary accommodation but, he said, many are waiting eight or 10 years, during which time they are not allowed to work, and must survive on less than €20 per week. They can’t fend for themselves, because they’re not allowed, and they’re relying on St Vincent de Paul to survive. It is one room per family, and they are cramped.

“It is inhumane . . . it is no life for humans”.

Sinn Féin Councillor Cathal Ó Conchúir agreed that Galway’s Direct Provision establishments were bad but he noted Limerick was worse.

“It’s something like a World War II concentration camp . . . trying to live and rear children in those sort of conditions is unbelievable,” he said of teh Limerick facility.

Cllr Ó Conchúir, a teacher, pointed out that the children of asylum seekers living in Direct Provision are discriminated against – they get free education at primary and secondary level but are charged €20,000 (non-EU fees) if they wish to go to third level.

He said that a wealthy Galway benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has paid for many asylum seekers to go to university but Councillor Ó Conchúir wants this barrier to education removed.

Independent Donal Lyons agreed that the conditions were inhumane but he pointed out that the asylum seekers have a “great regard” for the front-line staff in the Eglington and Great Western.

Sinn Féin’s Mairéad Farrell said that not only are the children living in appalling conditions in these facilities but they are embarrassed about it and are afraid to talk about it when they go to school.

Labour’s Billy Cameron said Direct Provision is “damaging human progress” and generations to come will look back at the treatment of these people as the “Magdalene of our generation”. “It must be a breach of human rights,” he said.

Independent Noel Larkin said he was worried what would happen if Direct Provision did end.

“There are 4,600 households and the hoisting waiting list. If we call on the Government to end this, where will they go – are we asking for them (government) to make a decision to deport them? If we deport them what are they going back to? There are a lot tougher conditions in their own country than what they have living in a hotel in Salthill,” said Councillor Larkin.

Independent Mike Cubbard said that using the word “hotel” makes it sound like they are living in the lap of luxury, but the reality is the complete opposite. Ireland will be sued by asylum seekers in years to come, “and rightly so”, he said.

Concluding the debate, Cllr Crowe pointed out the hypocrisy of lobbying the White House for changes to emigration for the undocumented Irish in America while at the same time ignoring the plight of asylum seekers living in squalor among us in Salthill and Eyre Square.

“I don’t care if you’re black, white or pink or what plane you got off, nobody should be living in those conditions,” he added.

The motion was passed unanimously, and it was agreed to circulate it to other local authorities around the country so that they too would pass similar motions.

Connacht Tribune

Heartless thieves steal shrubs from garden honouring organ donors



The Circle of Life Garden....targeted by thieves.

THIEVES have stooped to a new low over recent weeks in Galway city – stealing plants and shrubs from a public garden set up to remember organ donors and to help support their families.

The Circle of Life Garden in Quincentennial Park, Salthill, was developed in 2014, and has since attracted thousands of visitors – many of them remembering loved ones in a tranquil setting.

However, the garden – established by the Strange Boat Donor Foundation – has, over recent weeks, been the target of systematic thefts of plants and shrubs.

“It is with regret that the Charity now reports the recent systematic theft of newly planted shrubs and plants, some of which were planted by members of the organ donation community in memory of loved ones.

“Apart from the expense in buying and replacing plants and shrubs, this theft is so disheartening and demoralising, particularly for the many local volunteers who give of their time each week to maintain the garden and who lovingly care for its many features,” the Foundation said in a statement issued this week.

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Galway grandparents who cared for 60 kids – as well as six of their own



Deirdre and Michael Burke.

A Galway grandmother who – in addition to her own six children and six grandchildren – has also cared 60 youngsters over 35 years was among dozens of foster carers honoured for their commitment and generosity at City Hall last week.

Deirdre Burke, from Milltown, is one of those is long-serving foster carers in the county, caring, with her husband Michael, for 60 children and young people – from four days old up to 17.

“It’s mainly girls we’ve fostered, so there are lots of girly things. The house looks like a florist sometimes with all the cards and flowers,” laughs Deirdre.

Indeed, given that she also supports people in aftercare, that upper age limit even stretches beyond 17.

“I was pregnant with my fifth child when I was first approved [to foster]. We started off with pre-adoption babies, who would come for a few days and then go for adoption,” she says.

“I loved the whole idea of taking a child into your home and making a difference.”

For a lot of people, the thought of bonding with a baby and then having to hand it back would probably make them think twice about fostering.

“It was difficult initially,” concedes Deirdre.

“I had to accept that they’re not my own and that I won’t be keeping them forever. I can just love them while I have them. At the end of the day, it’s all about the child, so you have to get over it.”

Deirdre and Michael were among dozens of foster carers honoured at an event hosted by the Mayor of the City of Galway, Councillor Clodagh Higgins, paying tribute to those who have given more than 20 years of their lives to help children and young people.

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Connacht Tribune

Jobs blow for Galway as multi-national relocates to Dublin



The Poly Galway office at Crown Square.

A major multinational employer supported by IDA Ireland has closed its European headquarters in Galway City – ending hopes of creating 200 high-skilled jobs.

Poly has confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that it has closed its offices at Crown Square in Mervue.

The communications software and hardware provider announced a new research and development base at Crown Square in September 2021. Recruitment commenced immediately.

It had plans to create more than 200 high-skilled jobs over five years and embarked on a further recruitment campaign in May 2022.

But a spokesperson confirmed it has shut its Galway base, and moved to Dublin, after it was subsumed by another company.

A spokesperson said: “Poly is now legally a part of the HP organisation and Poly employees, who were employed by Poly in Ireland, have joined HP’s trading entity in Ireland (HP Technology Ireland Limited).

“The Poly Galway office at Crown Square in Mervue is now closed. The focus of our operations continues to be located at HP Ireland’s main office in Dublin, where HP and Poly continue to build on synergy and collaboration.”

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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