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Chance meeting gives Emma a whole new sense of mobility




A chance meeting in a pub triggered a chain of events that has given a brave Ballinasloe girl a whole new lease of life.

Four year Emma Campbell has a rare condition called Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency – or SSADHD. Children with Emma’s condition typically have developmental delay, especially involving speech development, intellectual disability, poor fine motor and gross motor skills, and decreased muscle tone.

Her dad Ken has embarked on a number of projects to highlight, not just his daughter’s plight, but to promote quality and awareness for children with special needs.

He called his walk from Ballinasloe to Dublin Miles for Emma – and on his return he joined fellow walkers for a celebratory pint in his local Gibbon’s Pillar House in the town.

“I was introduced to a gentleman called Tom Hatcher from Oklahoma City, and his wife Hillary, who is originally from Ballinasloe, who were there with family members enjoying an evening out,” said Ken.

“Kathryn Gibbons, who introduced me to Tom, had been telling them about Miles for Emma, and Tom Informed Kathryn that he was involved with a group in the USA called AMBUCS, creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities and special needs through AmTrykes,” he added.

AMBUCS is a non-profit charity dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities and believe the fun and freedom of riding your own bike is something everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy.

And people who are unable to operate a traditional bike can now share this experience, thanks to the Amtryke therapeutic tricycle – one of which Tom wanted to donate to Emma for free!

“As you can appreciate I was definitely taken aback by this very generous offer one that I knew would both enhance and benefit Emma’s life in so many ways,” said Ken.

True to his word, Tom began the process and once the best sort of trike for Emma’s needs was identified – and last Friday it arrived in Ballinasloe.

Ken continues to highlight Emma’s plight and those of so many children with special needs – after his Ballinasloe to Dublin walk, he also undertook the Croagh Patrick Four-Peak Challenge, where participants climbed the Reek four times in one day. But this time it was a day of unadulterated joy as his daughter took on a big challenge all of her own.

“We had a few reservations that Emma may be a little reluctant and that we would struggle to get her to sit on it or use it in anyway – it turns out we’ll have more trouble keeping her off it. Once it was assembled and adjusted to her size she was all over it,” said Ken.

“She loves her trike, she loves her pink AmTryke helmet and most of all she loves putting all her dollies and teddies in the basket which is attached to the back of her lovely new trike.

“She loves being pushed around, as the trike moves her legs move so she gets the sense of pedalling. Her steering still needs a lot of work but crashing into things seems to add to the fun,” he added.

“Myself and my wife Michelle and family – and especially Emma – would just like to thank Tom and Hillary and all at AMBUCS and AmTrykes who made this possible.

“They have changed a little Irish girl’s life in so many ways!”

■ For more details on Miles for Emma see the Facebook page or contact Ken on 0877654200.


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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