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COPE makes urgent housing fund plea

Enda Cunningham

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A desperate plea has been made to the Government for a substantial funding allocation for social housing in Galway – at least a dozen people are sleeping rough on the city’s streets and almost 70 more are in crisis accommodation.

Local social services charity COPE Galway said investment in social housing here is essential if homelessness is to be addressed – there are more than 3,600 on the Council’s housing waiting list at the moment.

The charity provided a snapshot of the extent of the housing crisis in the city – on the night of Monday, October 6, it provided emergency accommodation to 44 adults and 22 children across the range of its crisis emergency accommodation services.

Spokesperson Martin O’Connor said: “Another eleven people had contact with our services who were rough sleeping on that night.  There were a further two people who reported that they slept in a squat. This is the reality as we face into the coming winter.”

The charity welcomed the announcement in Budget 2015 that 10,000 social housing units will be built nationally over the next four years.

“Such investment in social housing is vital if the current shortage of housing for low income households is to be addressed.

“We have seen an ever increasing number of individuals and families at risk of and becoming homeless due to the inadequacies of the private rental market where rents are on the rise and sub-standard housing is very often the only option available to lower income households.

“An extensive social housing programme is the best way in the longer term to address these issues,” said Mr O’Connor.

However, a spokesperson for the City Council said it is not yet possible to quantify how many units will be built here, because the local authority has not been given any indication of funding allocation.

Mr O’Connor said: “We are seeing an increase in the numbers seeking emergency accommodation at both our Fairgreen Hostel for homeless men and Osterley Lodge for women and children.

“This, in combination with the shortage of affordable housing in Galway City, is contributing to a situation where there is an increase in the numbers of people rough sleeping and in families living in overcrowded situations with other family members and friends,” said Mr O’Connor.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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