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Councillors query €760,000 price tag for apartments

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A price tag of nearly €760,000 for four apartments in Rahoon – set to be bought by a housing association – has been branded “too expensive”.

The Carraig Dubh Housing Association – part of Ability West in Blackrock – has already had a loan approved by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to purchase the two-bed apartments at Rockfield Park in Rahoon in an effort to address the housing crisis.

At a meeting of Galway City Council, councillors were asked to approve a request to for a loan to buy the apartments.

But Cllr Michael Crowe (FF) – a former estate agent – said he couldn’t give his approval to their sale on the grounds that the asking price was too high.

He said he appreciated that the Council wasn’t buying them and would not be losing any money at all, as they were being funded by the Department at the end of the day.

“But someone is paying for it – the taxpayer. On the information I have before me, I believe the asking price is too high and I want more information. The price is excessive for where they are.

“ I don’t doubt the bone fides of anyone here and I understand that we are the banking authority only in this case, but we still have to get value for money. I don’t know what system was used to evaluate them, but I won’t be supporting this on the information I have in front of me,” he told the meeting.

Tom Connell, Director of Services for Housing, explained that these properties were being bought on the open market.

Both the Cluid Housing Association and Carraig Dubh had already been approved by the Department to buy the Rahoon units as well as properties at Prospect Hill, Manor Court, Bohermore and in Drisín, Knocknacarra.

Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir (SF) said that the properties would have undergone a vigorous inspection and would have a good BER rating for them to be approved by the Department for the purpose of being rented as social housing.

Councillors approved four properties for the Capital Assistance Scheme, but deferred a decision on the Rahoon apartments following Cllr Crowe’s proposal (seconded by Cllr Niall McNelis) to do so.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors

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Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre

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An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis

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Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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