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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council buys €1m B&B to transform into ‘homeless hub’

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A guesthouse in Newcastle has been acquired by Galway City Council to provide a roof over the heads of a dozen homeless families.

The local authority paid just over €1 million to purchase Corrib Haven B&B on Upper Newcastle Road. The 464 square metre property has recently been refurbished by the Council and it will soon be home to 12 families.

It comprises a sitting room, dining room, conservatory, kitchen, utility, and four bedrooms with en suite bathrooms on the ground floor; eight bedrooms with en suite bathrooms on the first-floor; and three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms in the attic.

The facility needs modifications including fit-out and fire safety works to ensure it complies with regulations. The Council expects the home to be open in late December or early January 2019. It will go to tender soon to procure a homeless service provider to run the facility. The capital cost of the acquisition is being funded by the Department of Housing.

Patricia Philbin, Director of Services for Housing, said the new facility will be used to house families who are currently living in emergency accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

“Once operational, it is intended to move existing families out of hotel arrangements as quickly as possible, and to limit the extent to which such accommodation has to be used for new presentations. The costs incurred in providing private emergency accommodation (in Galway City) have risen substantially in recent years from around €300,000 in 2016 to an estimated €1.2 million in 2018. The provision of a Family Hub will reduce dependence on hotels and B&Bs while reducing the significant costs that arise,” said Ms Philbin.

She added that in August of this year there were more than 50 families accommodated on behalf of the City Council in hotels and B&Bs and that figure was expected to rise in the coming months.

Labour Party councillor Billy Cameron said the people of Newcastle will welcome the new families to the area.

Cllr Cameron said a ‘Family Hub’ is a facility which provides emergency accommodation but where residents have access to communal facilities including kitchens, play areas for children, full laundry facilities, rooms for visiting supports and meeting room facilities.

“There is no dignity for homeless people living in hotels and B&Bs and this is about giving back some dignity,” said Cllr Cameron.

“I believe we should live and let live and that this Family Hub will be welcomed by the people of Newcastle, in order to help to alleviate the homeless crisis in our city. It won’t solve it but it is a help and a stop-gap. During the winter months, COPE Galway, the homeless charity, has its winter initiative for homeless and it is based on Seamus Quirke Road. There are absolutely no problems with that facility and there is no anti-social behaviour associated with it and so I see no reason why people should be concerned about this new home for homeless families,” added Cllr Cameron.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday

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A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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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