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Councillor slams his party’s record on housing



A long-serving Labour city councillor said his party’s record on social housing in Government was shameful.

Billy Cameron, a traditional socialist Labour Party member, said “I’m ashamed” that no social housing was built by the coalition government.

Councillor Cameron that “one of my major regrets of (Labour) taking part in Government is that we didn’t get a social housing programme”.

Councillor Cameron said that the party subsequently secured a commitment for a multi-billion-euro housing investment programme and it was now a matter of implementing that blueprint.

He made the comments during a debate on a motion calling on Government to release funds to build new social houses in Galway City, which was defeated.

Just four city councillors – the three from Sinn Féin and Mike Cubbard – backed Independent Collette Connolly, whose motion deplored successive governments for not investing any capital funds for social houses between 2009 and December 2015.

Councillor Connolly also called for the return of land purchased by the local authority and handed over to the State under the land acquisition scheme.

She said it was a “crying shame” that Government was relying totally on private sector to solve the housing crisis.

There are 4,600 households on the city’s housing waiting list, amounting to 15,000 people; and nationally there are some 90,000.

What was needed was a programme to begin development of social houses.

Labour’s Niall McNelis, whose colleague and deputy leader, Environment Minister Alan Kelly is responsible for housing objected and said €28 million had been pledged for social housing.

Independent Declan McDonnell wondered “what planet” Councillor McNelis was living on.

He said the housing shortage was so acute in Galway that it was actually worse than Dublin, proportionate to both cities’ populations.

Even allowing for the new houses that have been promised to be built, the city’s housing waiting list will swell to 6,000 households by 2018, he warned. Councillor McDonnell said there was “no money – not a bob” for the incoming government to spend on housing.

Sinn Féin Councillor Mairéad Farrell said it was an excellent motion and shocking that not a penny was spent on social housing since 2009. Her party colleague Cathal Ó Conchúir said social housing estates were built in the 1950s and 1970s when the country was suffering economically and the current recession shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to invest in a social housing programme now.

Mayor Frank Fahy said he was one of only three Councillors who objected to the transfers of lands some years ago under the land acquisition scheme, and “we’re still paying for it now”.

He said the average worker couldn’t afford the rents in Galway City. “Look at – a three-bed in the city is now €1,200-€1,300. There’s no way you could pay that.”

Director of Services Tom Connell said the Government has given approval for the Council to build 69 new social houses in Knocknacarra.

Councillor Connolly’s motion was defeated by 12 votes to five


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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