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Cash-strapped businesses owe €18m in rates

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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’.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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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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