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Connacht Tribune

Council chaos as Local Property Tax vote ends in farce

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Householders across the county are facing a Hobson’s Choice – a higher rate of Local Property Tax or a major curtailment in public services – as a contentious vote to maintain a 10% LPT loading looks set to be revoked at a special meeting of the local authority this Friday.

The move will result in a reprieve for hard-pressed homeowners in the county and annual savings of between €10 and €30 – but rescinding the higher rate of LPT in 2018 will also worsen the local authority’s already perilous financial position by €1.45 million, and lead to a reduction in local services.

Fianna Fáil and a kaleidoscope of Independents and smaller parties have said they will shoot down the LPT increase, which was controversially rubberstamped by Fine Gael Councillors at a dramatic, and at times farcical, Council meeting on Monday.

Council Chief Executive, Kevin Kelly, warned that any attempt to row back on the LPT hike would blow a €1.45m hole in the budget, which is already €4.3m short for next year.

Last year, a majority of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Councillors controversially voted to increase the LPT in County Galway by 10%.

Last Monday, a majority of Councillors – all Fine Gael – voted to maintain the 2017 increase for 2018. Twelve Fianna Fáil members did not arrive into the Chamber in time to cast their vote; they were in a separate room discussing an appointment to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

This meant that just 19 of the 39 members of the Council voted on the LPT, and, with Fianna Fáil absent from the room, Fine Gael had a temporary majority.

Fianna Fáil will be given an opportunity to have its say on the LPT after Cllr James Charity used standing orders to call a special meeting to revoke the decision to maintain the higher rate.

Cllr Charity received the consent of six members needed to convene a special meeting which will be held at 9am this Friday. Council must tell Revenue by 5pm on Friday of the LPT rate applying for 2018.

See full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí launch social media campaign urging motorists to #SlowDown

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AS part of their Be a Lifesaver road safety initiative, An Garda Síochána have commenced a week-long social media campaign #SlowDown.

The campaign is in response to the rising number of fatalities on the country’s roads and to highlight the importance of slowing down and driving carefully.

The aim is to encourage all road users to modify their behaviour on the roads and to encourage all age groups to think about road safety and how they can influence the behaviours of others.

In recent years, Ireland has reduced road deaths through a collective effort. We all have a role to play in saving lives.

 Chief Superintendent Michael Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said: “So far this year, 83 people have already lost their lives on our roads. This is not just a number, these are people, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues.

“Please reduce your speed in all circumstances. Speed limits are not targets and we must change our driving culture and behaviours if we are to save the lives of those we love.”

Every loss of life on our roads has a heart-breaking impact on families and communities.

There is one thing that every driver can do to reduce collisions on our roads – please #SlowDown.

The #Slowdown campaign will run for one week, until Sunday, July 3, and will feature a number of well-known #SlowDown ambassadors from around the country.

 Share the message #SlowDown and follow An Garda Síochána’s Facebook page, @gardatraffic on Twitter and gardainsta on Instagram.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Olympic golden boy Gunnar Bentz star attraction in Galway charity swim

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USA Olympic swimming gold medallist Gunnar Bentz will be the star attraction at the Galway Swimming Club Open Water Longest Day Swim on the River Corrib on Saturday (July 2).

The event, organised in partnership with local charity Jigsaw, features two swims — a 4k starting at Glenlo and a shorter 2.5k option getting under way at Dangan.

Last held in 2019 due to Covid, the Longest Day Swim aims to promote the mental and physical benefits of swimming as a recreation or a sport.

Those taking part will swim past some of Galway’s most notable landmarks including Menlo Castle, NUI Galway, and the Quincentenary Bridge.

Finishing at Steamers Quay, Woodquay, the event is a timed river swim for competent over-18 open-water swimmers with two distance options.

Eligible swimmers can enter through Eventbrite

All participating swimmers will receive a customised towel.

The charity swim will be headlined by Gunnar Bentz, a four-time medallist at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships and a two-time medallist at the Pan American Games in addition to his Olympic Gold Medal won with the USA 4 × 200 m freestyle squad at the 2016 Games in Rio. He was also the 2015 USA National Champion in the 400m Individual Medley.

Jigsaw Galway is part of a national network of services for youth mental health aiming to provide tailored community-based help for young people.

Jigsaw Galway is a free, non-judgemental and confidential support service for young people (12-25) living in Galway city and county.

They provide guidance and assistance for young people who are going through a difficult or distressing time. They also provide advice for anyone who is concerned about a young person in their life or work. Jigsaw Galway can be contacted on 091 549252.

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Connacht Tribune

End of lockdown brings upsurge in serious assaults and shoplifting

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Shoplifters have returned to Galway City with a vengeance since the Covid-19 restrictions were eased this year.

And serious assaults and public order offences have also spiked so far this year compared with last year, as the economy opens up again after lengthy lockdowns.

Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley that shoplifting had increased by 106% in the first five months of this year compared with the five months to the end of May in 2021.

There were some 282 thefts from city shops in the five months of 2022, an increase of 145 compared with the same period last year.

“The opening up of society and the economy has led to an increase in shoplifting,” Chief Supt Curley told the Galway City Joint Policing Committee meeting on Monday.

However, he said that one positive statistic that was not in his crime report was that detections for shoplifting are running at about 86%, which was high.

In many cases CCTV footage and/or security guards in shops can help with the detections.

Thefts from vehicles increased by 26% to 93 offences during the first five months of this year, and a number of arrests had been made in relation to these thefts and people would be prosecuted through the District Court.

He warned that many of the thefts from cars and vans were by opportunistic thieves who stole items from vehicles that were unlocked.

Chief Supt Curley confirmed there was a massive increase in serious assaults in Galway City in the five months to the end of May.

There were 59 assaults during that period he said, which was an increase of 42 assaults, or 247%.

Chief Supt Curley said that the opening up of society was to blame for assaults increasing again compared with last year, but he also said that some of them were related to ongoing feuds in the city and the county between rival families. Minor assaults were up by 30% to 142 incidents.

There were 225 public order offences recorded in Galway City in the five months to the end of May, up by 26% compared with the same period last year.

This was again due to the increased socialising and opening-up of the economy, the Chief Supt said.

In response to queries from Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), it was confirmed that a 24-hour Garda presence would be maintained in Eyre Square; this presence, according to Chief Supt Curley, was making a difference and had helped to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour and assaults in Eyre Square.

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