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City Council facing €5m budget deficit

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Galway City Hall

Galway City Council is facing a budget deficit of €5m this year due to councillors repeatedly bowing to requests for funding making the gap between income and expenditure “virtually unbridgeable” for officials.
City Chief Executive Brendan McGrath was arguing his case for a retention of Local Property Tax for next year at current levels, which councillors have discretion to vary up or down by up to 15%.
A decrease of 15% – as proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Mairéad Farrell – would have cut the council’s coffers by €1.2m and would have returned €33.75 to 77% of property owners in the city.
Mr McGrath said he was not exaggerating when saying the gap was virtually unbridgeable between the amount the city had to spend and the money it was bringing in – 7% more than the budget allowed.
He asked where he would find the €400,000 in staff costs needed to run the two new community centres in Knocknacarra and Ballinfoile.
The main pedestrian thoroughfare through the city was “in diabolical order” and needed serious investment. Rusheen Bay would be washed away without investing €12m in an upgrade. An offer of €3.5m in funding for capital projects from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) would have to matched and built within three years if it was to be successful.
The European Capital of Culture 2020 bid would also take serious amounts of money to win, but would be a game changer if successful and well worth the investment for the future.
“I can’t wave a magic wand and make it happen unless you provide the money,” he exclaimed.
Cllr Farrell’s motion – supported by two party colleagues and independents Catherine Connolly and Mike Cubbard – fell after Cllr Donal Lyons’ motion to retain the same LPT received 16 votes in favour.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway historian’s 14 new books bring running total to 70!

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Steve Dolan.

There may be a book in everyone – but producing 18 of them for publication in one week is taking it to a different level. And yet that’s what Galway historian Steve Dolan has done for Heritage Week. . . adding 18 books this year to bring him up to 70 over the last seven years – and he’s firmly committed to hitting one hundred.

By day – and given the workload, increasingly by night – he is the chief executive of Galway Rural Development (GRD), but the Carrabane resident has had a lifelong passion for history. And that’s what he turns to as a form of relaxation which peaks at this time every year.

Not alone that; he already has the first five of next year’s publications completed – and he’s only starting!

This year’s booklets are all on the theme of Gaelic Games and every one of them is in aid of a different community group or charity. Theoretically, they are limited editions, but – given his own love of the subject matter – he won’t see anyone who shares that passion miss out.

While all eighteen new publications share that GAA theme, the diversity of subject matter within that is breath-taking – and an incredible achievement in terms of the workload and production.

From the story of the county title that Liam Mellows were robbed of in 1942 to the contribution of An Cath Gaedhealach to Galway GAA in 1947/48 or Galway’s 1923 and 1925 All-Ireland victories to sport in County Galway during the revolutionary years; the books are as much about social history as about sport.

See the full list of publications in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

And if they are of interest to you, you can contact Steve at sdolan@grd.ie to buy them.

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Connacht Tribune

Why did Galway suffer just half as many Covid deaths as Mayo?

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Galway and Mayo, two neighbouring counties, have had hugely contrasting experiences with Covid-19-related deaths.

Analysis of the latest figures reveals that Mayo’s Covid mortality rate is more than double that of Galway’s.

The disparity has prompted a Galway West TD to call for an investigation to see what caused the disparity.

Fresh data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid deaths in Galway have topped the 250 milestone.

Up to the end of July, HSPC has been notified of some 251 Covid deaths in Galway since the Pandemic was declared in 2020.

This gives a mortality rate of 97.3 per 100,000 population, which is the second lowest of any county in the Republic after Sligo.

During the same timeframe, neighbouring Mayo notified 296 Covid deaths, which gives a mortality rate of 226.8 per 100,000.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Hurling legend’s distillery plans for heart of Conamara

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Joe Connolly....Conamara vision.

Plans have been lodged to build a multi-million euro whiskey distillery on the Conamara coastline – the brainchild of Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly and his family.

And if it gets the green light, it will square a circle that has its roots firmly in the same Conamara soil – where both of the All-Ireland-winning Galway captain’s grandfathers were renowned distillers too . . . only of the illegal variety.

The plans for the Cnoc Buí Whiskey Distillery & Heritage Centre outside Carna – lodged by Údarás na Gaeltachta on behalf of Drioglann Iarthar na Gaillimhe Teoranta – describe a facility that will provide a first-class visitor experience and greatly enhance the local area’s tourism offering.

Once complete, Cnoc Buí will comprise the distillery itself, bonded warehousing, a bottling hall and tasting bar – as well as the heritage centre, shop and café.

That will create over 30 jobs in the first five years, with the heritage centre alone aiming to attract 16,000 visitors in the first year of operation – rising to at least 52,000 by year five in Iorras Aithneach, an area blighted by unemployment and emigration.

On top of that, their own economic analysis envisages the creation of another 130 jobs in the Carna/Cill Chiarain area – in leisure, hospitality and accommodation on foot of that significant increase in visitor numbers.

The Connollys see Cnoc Buí as ‘an asset which will enrich the entire community’.

“It will enhance the local tourism product and serve as a focal point for both the local community and visitors,” said Cnoc Buí director Barry Connolly.

“The building has been carefully designed to reflect the beauty of its surroundings, because we want our distillery to be an attractive hub, with its Visitors’ Centre and Tasting Bar. It will provide employment, draw in tourists and add value to other business in the area,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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