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Connacht Tribune

Consultants to get €1m for traffic solutions

Declan Tierney

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More than one million euro has been set aside to pay for consultants who have been engaged to devise controversial traffic calming measures for two County Galway villages which are among the country’s most notorious blackspots.

It has been revealed that a staggering €1.14 million is earmarked to pay for consultancy fees for traffic calming plans for both Claregalway and Clarinbridge – measures that could have a negative economic impact for both villages.

Meetings have already taken place in Clarinbridge with many of those in attendance voicing their opposition to the plan as it would have the effect of removing 12 car parking spaces in the village and result in passing traffic not stopping to do business.

Now, it has been alleged that the €1 million-plus has been earmarked for consultancy fees without “a single sod” being turned on either project. It has been described as a disgraceful waste of money.

The figures have been disclosed by barrister and councillor James Charity following repeated queries to senior Council officials. Cllr Charity opposed the budget for the Athenry-Oranmore Municipal Council area – as did two of his colleagues – but it was passed on the casting vote of the Cathaoirleach.

At that meeting, it was agreed to provide €100,000 to both traffic calming schemes. This is in addition to €540,000 that was allocated in 2015 and a further €500,000 in 2016.

According to Cllr Charity, the total allocation set aside for the traffic calming schemes over the past three years now stands at €1.14 million – having received the backing of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors on the authority.

“It is simply beyond belief that more money is being allocated for consultancy fees on these projects, despite the fact that not as much as a sod of turf has been turned in either location.

“We are talking about enormous sums of money here, potentially as much as €1,140,000 million, all of which is going to consultants without any benefit being seen on the ground, which is little short of a scandal.

“This is coming at a time when the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael dominated coalition on the Council voted through an increase of 10% in Local Property Tax, which would effectively equate to the amount being approved under these schemes for consultants.

“To make matters even worse, there has been strong local opposition to the plans prepared by consultants for the Clarinbridge proposal to date, with the community there raising serious issues about the potential loss of parking in the village and the impact this will have on local businesses and schools.

“As a result, it means the current plans prepared by consultants, at huge expense to Galway taxpayers, may never be followed through or, at the very least, will not be advanced in their current form.

“I am also at a loss as to why more money is being proposed for consultants on the Clarinbridge scheme, given that they have already produced their substantive plan for the area, and additional vast sums for any amendments, if that is what this sum envisages, really calls into question the procurement policy being adopted by the Council and the terms of any contracts that were entered into”, Cllr Charity said.

Connacht Tribune

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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