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Builders owe City Council over €5m in unpaid levies

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Date Published: 10-Jun-2010

By Darragh McDonagh

 

Galway City Council is owed more than €5 million by developers who have failed to pay development contribution levies in respect of building projects on 66 sites throughout the city.

Court proceedings have been instigated against developers in 17 cases of non-payment of the levy, which is payable to the local authority prior to the commencement of construction.

The City Council has been described as “lax” in their pursuit of the monies and accused of favouring big developers, who were allowed to defer payment of the levies while small builders were required to pay the full amount upfront.

“The council has been lax in the way they have done business and they should have been managing this issue with a much tighter rein,” said Cllr Padraig Conneely.

“It has been an unfair system by which the big developer was able to dictate his own terms, while the small fellow was forced to pay whole amounts upfront. And it is the big developer who has walked away now and cost the city millions.”

A spokesman for Galway City Council said that it was at the discretion of the local authority whether to demand full payment or allow a developer to pay in instalments.

“Where the amount due is relatively small, it would generally be expected that it would be paid upfront, but development levies in large-scale developments tend to be worked out on an instalment basis,” he stated.

Ten court proceedings have been initiated by the council against developers who have failed to pay contribution levies worth almost €900,000, while court orders have been successfully obtained in relation to seven planning sites to the value of around €482,000.

“Galway City Council is going to find itself at a loss,” said Cllr Conneely. “These levies were accrued during the Celtic Tiger era when money was plentiful and the council would have got the money if it had been collected then as it was supposed to be.

“Now we are in the midst of a cash-flow crisis, struggling to provide essential services, and these vital funds are sitting in developers’ pockets,” he added.

Cllr Conneely called on the City Council to “up their game” and undertake a major drive to recoup the outstanding development contribution levies. A similar drive by Sligo County Council gleaned €630,000 in the first six months of this year.

“This is money that could be used for social housing or other services and must be aggressively pursued straight away,” he warned.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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