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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillor ruffles feathers over Galway’s Purple Flag status

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The renewal of the city’s ‘Purple Flag’ status cost almost €9,000, with questions raised over its benefit to nighttime safety.

The Purple Flag is described as “an international accreditation awarded to cities and towns that meet a standard of excellence in managing the evening and night-time economy.”

Galway City Council, which calls it a “prestigious” award, applied, and received the purple flag in 2015. Documents released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI) confirm the City Council spent almost €9,000 to retain the accreditation in 2017.

This included €2,800 “renewal expense”, which is paid to Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), who award the accreditation.

The award was given to Galway City following an overnight assessment of the city centre by two assessors earlier this summer.  It means Galway City, “as a Purple Flag accredited area has proven that it is welcoming to everyone, offers safe ways for visitors to travel home after dark and provides a good mix of venues.”

The local authority “celebrated Purple Flag weekend” in early October.

As well as the €2,800 fee to ATCM, to renew the application, the City Council spent a further €4,000 on “advertising and printing of promotional items”. It is understood this includes the purchase of actual purple flags, one of which was flown from the Spanish Arch.

Other costs associated with the Purple Flag include: trade services and other works (€513.24); entertainment and associated expense (€676.46); training – seminar and conference (€575); and professional fees and expense (€382.75).

The website of the Purple Flag scheme lists “lower crime and anti-social behaviour” among the benefits of attaining accreditation, which is held by 18 other towns and cities in Ireland.  However, not everyone is convinced of the merits of the scheme. Fianna Fáil councillor Mike Crowe said the Purple Flag was “all a bit fluffy” and “great in principle” but hasn’t made the city any safer.

“It’s not clear to me what benefit the city gets out of the Purple Flag. I don’t know what it does. I know what they tell us it’s supposed to do; it’s awarded to towns and cities that are safe and vibrant. But I don’t see how by being awarded the Purple Flag Galway City is any safer,” said Cllr Crowe.

“Take the Blue Flag. Ballyloughane doesn’t have a Blue Flag so I know that, according to the authorities, it’s not safe to swim there and if I want to swim I go out to Salthill where the Blue Flag beach is, or I take the risk and swim in Ballyloughane anyway.

“With the Purple Flag, I can’t see one thing that has changed since Galway joined the scheme that has made the city centre any safer. The only thing I know about the Purple Flag scheme is that purple flags have gone up around the city since it was renewed.

“I’m not being funny about it, but the only place I’ve heard the Purple Flag being mentioned is at City Hall. I haven’t heard any clubs or residents or people on the street or any business people mention or talk about the Purple Flag.

“I’ve never gone travelling to a city on the basis of whether or not they have a purple flag and I’ve never heard of any tourists using it as criteria for choosing where they’ll go. And I’ve never heard of businesses using the purple flag to decide if they’ll set-up business in a town or city.

“It’s not a lot of money to be spending in the greater scheme of things, but at the same time that’s €10,000 or so that you could be spending on other areas, such as CCTV that actually might improve safety in the city,” added Cllr Crowe.

A spokesperson for the City Council said the Purple Flag initiative was a positive one, that promotes the night-time economy. The spokesperson said that the initiative has promoted collaboration and cooperation between a number of agencies including Gardaí, City Council, businesses including security companies.

He added that €9,000 spent on the Purple Flag was relatively more cost effective than CCTV.

CITY TRIBUNE

Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service

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The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Park fun to mark Africa Day

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Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’

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At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon

BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON

A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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