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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council not offering cash incentives to letting agents

Stephen Corrigan

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Galway City Council has not followed the lead of local authorities in Dublin, where letting agents are to be given financial incentives to rent housing to homeless families in emergency accommodation.

Last week, it was revealed that Dublin’s four local authorities, under the auspices of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), have begun paying letting agencies a €500 fee in return for every Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenant that moves into a property on their books.

A spokesperson for the Council told the Galway City Tribune that they do not provide a placement fee in order to secure a tenancy for homeless families.

“A deposit and up to two months’ rent payment in advance can be provided to any landlord/agent on behalf of homeless clients, under the Homeless HAP Place Finder Service Circular in order to secure a tenancy.

“This resource was made available in all 31 local authorities on the 19th January 2018 after having been piloted in Dublin Local Authorities and Cork City Council.

“The service was introduced to assist homeless households in securing accommodation where the high demand and low levels of supply make the rental market very challenging,” said the spokesperson.

Since the scheme was unveiled, there has been some criticism levelled against the Department of Housing as landlord representatives accused the State of undermining trust between landlords and their agents – fearing the move would influence any decision over who a property should be leased to.

Local councillor Pádraig Conneely echoed these concerns and said it was only right that Galway City Council didn’t immediately follow-suit.

“I think this is something that has been bounced off us very quickly and it needs to be looked at a bit more closely before any action is taken.

“More research needs to be done and the real impact of introducing a scheme like this has to be considered,” said the Fine Gael councillor.

Meanwhile, the most recent figures show that 304 people were homeless in the Western Region between the months of July and September.

In Galway, there were 46 families in private emergency accommodation, with a further 13 in ‘transitional’ accommodation in the city.

Both the Fairgreen Hostel and Osterley Lodge were at capacity, catering for 26 men and 13 women respectively.

The Cold Weather Response to homelessness for winter 2018 will be operational from November 26 and this year, there will be 30 beds available shared over two locations on the west side of the city.

Some 4,027 applicants remained on Galway City Council’s housing waiting list at the end of September.

CITY TRIBUNE

€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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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