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Arthouse cinema funds ‘an absolute scandal’

Francis Farragher



The City Council has agreed to pump another €250,000 into the Arthouse Cinema project – at the same meeting, councillors failed to secure €10,000 for a local dogs charity.

The Arthouse Cinema project has been described by a local councillor as ‘an absolute scandal’ in terms of the wads of public money being poured into it.

Cllr. Michael Crowe said that it was very strange that another €250,000 could be approved for the cinema project while at the same time the MADRA dogs charity were crying out for just €10,000 to fill the gap left by the temporary closure of the City Council’s dog pound.

“Really there comes a time when you can pay just too much for gold. We have given them (Arthouse Cinema) a site worth €1.9 million, then an allocation of €200,000, followed by another €200,000 and now €250,000.

“That’s a total of €2,550,000 from us, not to mention the money that’s come directly from central funds. Do we as a City Council really have this kind of money to give out, when there are so many other needs around the city,” said Cllr. Crowe.

He told the Galway City Tribune that after all this public money being pumped into the project, it would then be handed over to a private concern for another €850,000, who would then have a 25 year lease on the facility.

Backers of the cinema claim that the jinxed project – now under construction for six years – will be the focal point of a cultural hub in the Spanish Arch-Lower Merchants Road area.

Earlier this year, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys approved a grant of €735,000 for the Solas Picture Palace, while the Chair of the Picture Palace Board, Lelia Doolan, said its completion would be “a monument to competence, perseverance, endurance and the goodwill of the people of Galway”.

Another former Mayor of the city, Cllr Padraig Conneely, has claimed that the Arthouse Cinema project had gobbled up a staggering €8 million in taxpayers’ hard-earned money. He described it as a “a concrete monument to mismanagement and incompetence”.

The Picture Palace – when completed – will be a three-screen arthouse cinema with 340 seats, as well as a café, bar and bookshop. It had been due for completion in 2011 but has missed a series of deadlines for completion over the years.


Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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