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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors launch stinging attack on 2020 management

Francis Farragher

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Concerns over Galway’s preparedness – or lack of it – for the 2020 European Capital of Culture extravaganza were aired in public this week with a number of councillors launching stinging attacks on the company charged with getting the city and county ready for the event.

The departure of the event’s Artistic Director, the so-called ‘botched appointment’ of a Business Engagement Director, fundraising shortfalls, serious communications failures and a lack of connectivity with local communities, were issues raised by councillors at special City Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

However, a number of city councillors also called on their colleagues to adopt a more positive approach to the 2020 event – costing a projected €45.75 million – saying that there was ample time over the next 18 months for the city to ‘catch up’ on any preparation shortfalls that had emerged.

City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, said that he had ‘complete and utter confidence in the Board [of the 2020 company] to deliver a world class event to the city that would do Galway and Ireland proud’.

“Yes, we are behind [in the preparations] and I do feel that this democratic body [the City Council] is entitled to ask questions on any issues arising. But this will be a remarkable event for Galway and it will leave a positive legacy for many years after,” said Brendan McGrath.

The often tetchy single item agenda meeting – called to bring out into the open concerns over Galway’s readiness to host the 2020 European Capital of Culture event – lasted for nearly four hours, ending with the taking of confidence motions in the company tasked with preparing the city and county for the event.

The two confidence motions – with slightly different wordings – were eventually passed by the City Council on margins of 14-3 and 13-4, after councillors received reassurances that they would now be receiving detailed quarterly progress reports on the 2020 preparations.

Fine Gael councillor, Pádraig Conneely and Fianna Fáil councillor, Ollie Crowe delivered the most trenchant criticisms of the company charged with ‘delivering’ the 2020 event to the city and county – the Galway Cultural Development and Activity Co. Ltd, chaired by Aideen McGinley with Hannah Kiely the Chief Executive Officer.

Both Aideen McGinley and Hannah Kiely addressed the meeting, saying that already a huge amount of background work had gone into the 2020 preparations with the Action Plan Phase now coming up.

Fermanagh native Aideen McGinley – who has worked for 37 years in local and central government in Northern Ireland – said that the 2020 event would bring in an estimated one million extra visitors to Galway during its staging.

“We all need to get an oar to row this boat. This will put Galway on a new international platform as regards jobs, infrastructure, tourism and culture,” she said.
For extensive coverage of the special 2020 meeting, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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