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Councillor calls for less negativity on Galway 2020

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A county councillor has complained that his city counterparts are engaged in too much negativity in relation to Galway city and county’s European Capital of Culture project.

Fine Gael’s Joe Byrne acknowledged there are some problems with Galway 2020 but he said there was a need now to “take a deep breath” to assess the situation and to determine what the legacy of the designation should be.

“There’s too much negativity, and a reactionary approach, mainly from some city councillors,” said Cllr Byrne.

“There are problems but sometimes you need to just take a deep breath, take a few weeks to sort out those problems. You need to take a deep breath and focus on the positivity and what the legacy of Galway 2020 can be.”

Cllr Byrne has asked Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Kevin Kelly, to provide an update on Galway 2020 at next Monday’s plenary meeting of the local authority. Mr Kelly is a member of the Board of Galway 2020.

“Even if he gives a brief update, and a commitment that Galway 2020 would come before us at another full meeting of the County Council to outline progress on the project,” said the Kinvara-based representative.

Cllr Byrne said the County Council was fulfilling its budget pledge of €2 million to the project – he said €6 million was never promised by the County Council, although that’s what Galway 2020 said it was getting from the County Council.

“I don’t know where that figure came from . . . but it’s not all about money, and it shouldn’t be always about money,” insisted Cllr Byrne.

Galway City Council has promised to stump-up at least €6 million to fund the project, which has been dogged by controversy.

Its chief executive, Hannah Kiely, stepped aside from her role last month, hot on the heels of the premature departure of the artistic director, Chris Baldwin.

Druid Theatre Company has withdrawn its flagship programme from Galway 2020 Galway, Middle Island, due to “loss of time, significant budget cuts and communications issues”. Druid said it would work with Galway 2020 on devising another, smaller-scale project.

Other organisations will also follow suit and ‘downsize’ their projects because budgets have been slashed, by as much as 80% in some cases.

Cllr Byrne acknowledged the “turmoil” that has beset Galway 2020 but he said there was a lot of positive stuff happening on the ground.

Over the weekend, he said, hundreds of people attended events in Ballinderreen as part of the ‘Sur La Mer’ (on the sea) Small Towns, Big Ideas Galway 2020 pilot project.

These Small Towns, Big Ideas projects are being rolled-out in may rural areas, he said.

“The legacy of Galway 2020 shouldn’t be a statue in Eyre Square, the legacy of Galway 2020 should be that we have developed and nurtured our heritage and our culture and that we celebrate it throughout the year,” he said.

“The importance for our city and county is the legacy which the 2020 project leaves behind and it will be as successful as we make it, despite fears of funding cuts, because one cannot underestimate the power of the voluntary sector in every community who want to be part of this project.

“I have asked Galway County Council CEO to brief county councillors at our meeting on October 22 at which time better assessment will be at hand rather than at present with so much reactionary assessment being made by many,” added Cllr Byrne.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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