Galway has suffered a fall of just five per cent in the county’s Garda force – one of the smallest cuts in the country.
That is according to information released by the Department of Justice, after a query from Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice and Equality.
The figures released earlier in the week show that as of January 2015 Galway has 567 Gardaí, compared to a figure of 599 in 2010.
That is a decrease of five per cent over five years, while other areas lost up to one-fifth of their numbers in the past five years.
Cavan-Monaghan, for example, suffered the harshest cuts to its division, losing 22 per cent of its Gardaí in the same period.
Galway is on par with Westmeath, and just below Cork city at four per cent and Cork North at two per cent, which saw the least dramatic cuts nationally.
Galway previously saw the closure of ten stations in January 2013 as part of An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plan 2013.
Deputy Collins had registered a complaint with the Ceann Comhairle when the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald initially failed to release the documents pertaining to garda numbers. The figures were released at the weekend.
“Hiring 200 additional Gardaí is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s needed,” he said, referring to recent graduations at Templemore Training College.
The Deputy recommended that the government commit to increasing Garda levels by 14,000. There are currently 12,775 Gardaí in the country.
But Dermot O’Brien, the Galway man who is President of the Garda Representative Association, criticised the government’s management of Garda numbers.
Mr O’Brien, who is based in Tuam, said there were an estimated 12,799 Gardaí in the force – but when that was stripped down by rank and takes into account those who are sick, injured, on leave and job sharing, it is a four figure number. “And that four figure number is then divided among five units”, he said.
“Gardaí today earn a hell of a lot less than they did in 2008. They now want back what they’re owed by the government.
“Talks of percentage rises are not welcome, because that relates to productivity and Gardaí have already put in enough of that and given enough through the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements.
“The new recruits coming in are in a poverty trap, where they’re working in a two-tier wage system and being moved to urban areas with high rents. It’s time for the government to address this issue,” he added.
Earlier this month Galway West TD Sean Kyne welcomed the announcement of additional recruitment to An Garda Síochána. “I am confident that Galway will get its fair share,” he said.
He also asked the Minister to confirm whether the Garda Commissioner would take cognisance of the Gaeltacht areas in Galway to ensure sufficient numbers proficient in the Irish language, as required under law.
€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
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.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
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.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
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.