Date Published: 18-Sep-2009
The City Council – owed around €18m in rates arrears – have this week been asked not ‘to flog businesses to death’ that haven’t a cent in their coffers to meet their debts.
A perilous financial situation for the City Council has been exacerbated by the fact that only €22m out of a total commercial rates accrual of €40m has so far been paid.
The Galway City Tribune has learned that some businesses in arrears have received legal notices from the City Council demanding the payment of their rates bill.
In some of those cases, the businesses in the past had paid their bills in full in December, but now the City Council are demanding a quicker payment of the monies owed.
However former mayor of the city, Cllr. Padraig Conneely, told the Galway City Tribune there was absolutely no point in trying to ‘flog businesses to death’ that simply didn’t have any money at present to meet their rates arrears.
He said that it was his clear understanding this week that out of a total rates bill of €40m owed to the City Council, only €22m had been paid up to date and there were strong indications that there would be a ‘real difficulty’ in collecting the outstanding €18m.
“It is just a fact of life that retailers and businesses across the city are in major financial difficulty due to the current recession – the City Council will have to apply some discretion and put in place a staged or instalment payment system.
“There is just no other way to go. Taking blanket legal action against businesses that are just hanging on by a thread will only hasten their demise. The City Council must use discretion and common sense,” said Cllr. Conneely.
The scale of the financial crisis will be outlined to councillors at their first meeting of the new Council at City Hall on Monday evening with the circulation of a mid-year financial report on the local authority’s revenue budget.
One of the city’s best known businessmen, Joe Carroll, Managing Director of Zhivago Records told the Galway City Tribune that the City Council needed to talk to businesses and their representatives before embarking on a course of threatening legal action.
“Businesses have endured wage cuts, a reduction in hours and the loss of jobs in a bid to stay afloat at a time when rents are still high and turnover is down on average by 25 to 30%.
“The City Council will have to come at least half way in terms of meeting with us and talking to us about the scheduling of our payments.
“There’s no certainly no point in the City Council using a hammer to crack a nut. Retailers and businesses in the city are at the ‘pin of their collar’ to keep going – the very least we might expect from the City Council is for them to come and talk to us,” said Joe Carroll.
Michael Coyle, Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, told the Galway City Tribune that in cases where businesses and retailers were willing, but unable to, make their rates payments on schedule the City Council had to make an allowance in such cases.
“We are talking here about very responsible people, who in the past would have made their payments on time, but who cannot do this year because of the well documented economic downturn and cashflow crisis.
“The local authority must take into account the nature and scale of the current economic crisis and allow for a scheduled basis of rates payments,” said Michael Coyle.
He said that given the current economic situation, any mention of an increase in rates for the coming year would be ‘utterly resisted’.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup
Date Published: 06-Mar-2013
New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit
A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes
Date Published: 11-Mar-2013
Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?
Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.
But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.
While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.
So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.
It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.
Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.
While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.
It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.
But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.