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Businesses folding to avoid paying rates to City Council

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 BY CIARAN TIERNEY

Some city businesses are deliberately shutting down only to reopen under new names in order to avoid paying rates to Galway City Council, a meeting of the local authority heard last night.

Although the meeting heard that the City Council managed to balance the books for 2012, it was alleged that some businesses were going out of their way to avoid paying rates by closing their doors and then reopening as “new” enterprises.

The report found that only 62% of rates due were collected by the City Council last year, with arrears of €17.1 million on December 31 last. This compared to arrears of €16.4 million on the first day of 2012.

A total of €45.6m was due for collection in 2012, but the local authority managed to collect just under €28.5m.

“I think some of these businesses are running rings around the local authority when it comes to rates,” said Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG). “Then they have the nerve to keep the premises open or to reopen their doors after just a few days.”

The City Council managed to balance the books for 2012 with a net surplus of almost €17,000, despite difficulties in collecting rates, rents, water, and domestic waste charges.

The local authority recorded a total income of €81,415,996 in the last calendar year, compared to an expenditure of €81,399,317.

In a report to last night’s meeting of the City Council, Head of Finance Edel McCormack said the 2012 results reflected successful efforts and actions taken to match expenditure with available funding and resources.

“Galway City Council has implemented prudent expenditure controls, strengthened debt collection measures and reviewed work practices and resource demands,” she said.

“It is imperative that the City Council continues this programme into the future in order to limit the impact of reduced resources on essential services.”

Only 59% of commercial water rates were collected during the year, leading to arrears of just under €2.7m at the end of 2012. A total of €6.5m was due for collection, with €3.8m collected during the calendar year.

The corresponding figures for rents and annuities were 76%, with arrears of €2.3m on December 31, while only 71% of the money due for domestic waste collection services (a figure of €2.3m) was collected during the year.

Ms McCormack said that income from the local government fund, the pay and display scheme, water, composting, and Leisureland were all below what was anticipated in the Budget for the year, while the Council’s waste collection service was “struggling to break even”.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!

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Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison

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A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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