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Catherine and Noel’s election ‘war chests’

Dara Bradley



Bradley Bytes – A political column with Dara Bradley

Three Galway Independent TDs have built up a nice little war chest ahead of the next general election, which is expected within 12 months.

Independent Dáil Deputies are entitled to claim an annual allowance of €37,037 for expenses, “arising from parliamentary activities, including research”.

The allowance is not subject to income tax, and if it’s not used up in the year it is claimed, it can carry forward to the following year.

Obviously, the money isn’t supposed to be used on re-election campaigns per se.

But it can be used on policy formation, consultants’ services, technical or specialist advice, including PR, polling or public attitude sampling, and entertainment.

And all of these broad headings, for which the Parliament Activities Allowance is payable, would be capable of generating votes for Independents.

Sean Canney, the Galway East Junior Minister, hit the headlines last month for his Standards in Public Office (SIPO) returns, showing he spent quite a bit of his allowance on wining and dining in fancy restaurants. Canney got €37,037, but spent €43,164.95 – because he had some funding brought forward from the previous year.

Galway West TDs Catherine Connolly and Noel Grealish, and Roscommon Galway TD, Denis Naughten, were savvier with their spending, however.

Naughten spent just €20,000 last year, and carried forward €51,000 to this year.

Connolly spent €35,000 last year, and carried forward €50,000.

Grealish spent €27,000, and carried forward €47,000 to this year.

When their leftovers are added to their Parliament Activities Allowance allocation of €37,037 for this year, it means they’ve the guts of €85,000 each to spend on ‘parliamentary activities’ in 2019, with an election on the horizon. Not bad if you can get it!

Remember that when Independents play the poor mouth.

Déjà vu for Minister Canney

Galway East TD, Sean Canney, a junior minister, got two bites of the cherry when claiming credit for the State’s purchase of the Gate Lodge at Portumna Castle . . . for more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune.


€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara



How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan




The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham



Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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