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Connacht Tribune

Council accused of double standards on rental sector

Denise McNamara

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Galway County Council officials have been summoned to explain their management of tenants and estates in the Loughrea Municipal District amid complaints they were holding private landlords and homeowners to a much higher standard.

At this month’s area meeting for councillors, Portumna Councillor Ivan Canning (FF) demanded to know why Galway County Council was collecting rubbish from a local authority estate in Killimor when they did not run a waste collection service.

He had previously voiced concerns about the estate, where he claimed dead dogs had been dumped and rubbish was being thrown over the wall to the local school.

Administrative officer in the environment unit of Galway County Council Padraig Carroll said he had been told the caretaker of the estate had taken it upon himself to remove rubbish from the green area of the estate, which had been beset with dumping and antisocial behaviour issues.

He said one of the tenants did have a contract with a waste disposal company while two of them did not.

Cllr Canning said he had passed the estate last week and had spotted several bags of rubbish dumped at one of the house’s gates waiting to be collected.

“If I do that I’ll get a fine. I have people calling me about why the rules are different in this case. Why should I do it [pay for waste collection] and somebody else can come along and do what they like? They’re tenants with Galway County Council – they have to tow the line.”

Cllr Jimmy McClearn (FG) said he knew that the dog warden had visited some of the houses on multiple occasions and removed dogs only for the tenants to bring in more dogs immediately afterwards.

“Household waste is being thrown over the school fence while they’re standing in the playground,” he exclaimed.

Cllr Mogie Maher (FG) said there was a similar situation in a Council estate on Bride Street in Gort.

“They’ve caravans outside the houses, horses inside the houses and we’re turning a blind eye to this. We’ve estates in Loughrea town where the grass is as high as the table – the grass wasn’t cut since February or March. I want housing reps to come here and report on the issues at the next meeting.

A local authority tenant in St Lawrence’s Field had a skip outside the house in breach of his contract which went on fire and caused thousands of euro of damage to the house.

“The housing unit has almost collapsed in its function. Michael Owens [director of service for housing] is one of the best civil servants but he needs staff.”

Cllr McClearn complained that there seemed to be two different sets of rules for the private sector landlord.

“For houses let under the HAP scheme, Galway County Council will demand – and rightly demand – the highest spec of property. I had a tenant of Galway County Council where the three-lock system on their door was broken after ten years and he was told it was their own responsibility. Tenants are being told to service their boilers.

“But if the tenant is on the HAP scheme, everything’s the responsibility of the landlord. I have no difficulty demanding high standards of landlords but we don’t demand them of ourselves.”

Director of Services for Infrastructure and Operations, Jim Cullen, said he would request senior housing officials to attend next month’s meeting to answer queries from councillors.

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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