The number of people ‘signing on’ in Galway city and county has fallen again – by almost 12% compared to this time last year.
But one Galway TD has pointed out that, in some parts of the county, there are still three times as many people out of work as there was during the height of the Celtic Tiger boom.
“It’s great that the number of people out of work is coming down, but there is no way that the Government should become complacent . . . there are still so many families hurting,” Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish said.
“We are still way behind the kind of employment we had before the economic collapse and nobody should think that everything is rosy in the garden again.”
Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that there were 18,017 people on the Live Register in County Galway at the end of February, a drop of 2,382, or 11.7% on February 2014. The biggest drop was recorded in the Loughrea area, a whopping 15.2% reduction, with 340 fewer people on the Live Register compared to a year ago.
The CSO figures for the end of February show the following totals for Galway: Galway City 8,936 (-11.6%); Tuam 2,723 (-10.7%); Ballinasloe 2,122 (-10.9%); Loughrea 1,900 (-15.2%); Gort 1.225 (-12.7%); and Clifden 1,111 (-8.6%)
Of the total number on the Live Register in County Galway as a whole, 10,696, or just under 60%, are male and 7,321 are female. The vast majority (87%) are aged over 25.
The figures show that the number of males dropped by 14% since this time last year while the fall in the number of females out of work was less dramatic, at 8%.
But Deputy Noel Grealish stressed that while it has been mostly good news in recent times with regard to employment, the fact remains that the numbers are still way higher than they were in the good times seven years ago.
His research shows that there are twice as many on the Live Register in County Galway today compared with the total for February 2006.
And in the Loughrea area, the difference is particularly stark, with almost three times as many people ‘signing on’ now, while in the Gort and Tuam areas the totals are two and a half times greater now.
The comparative figures are: Galway County up from 8,835 seven years ago to 18,017 now (a 104% rise); Loughrea up from 852 to 1,900 (up 191%); Gort up from 468 to 1,225 (162% increase); Tuam up from 1,056 to 2,723 (rise of 158%); Ballinasloe up from 885 to 2,122 (up 140%); Galway City up from 4,994 to 8,936 (a 79% increase); and Clifden up from 780 to 1,111 (rise of 42%).
“It’s easy to get the impression from the headline figures that everything is good again with regard to employment but these figures show that we have an awful lot of catching up to do still.
“The bottom line is that in County Galway, there are 9,000-plus people more on the live Register now than there was in 2006. That’s a shocking statistic and the Government needs to do more to encourage growth,” added Deputy Grealish.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.