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Court bid to shift illegal Traveller site at Doughiska

Enda Cunningham

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Galway City Council is seeking a Circuit Court injunction against Traveller families who are illegally encamped in Doughiska, beside Merlin Woods.

Director of Services for Housing, Tom Connell, confirmed at a local authority meeting that the Council’s law agents have been instructed to seek a court date to secure the injunction.

“The occupation is illegal and we’ll be seeking that the vacate the site,” said Mr Connell.

One councillor claims the families concerned – who were previously illegally encamped in Knocknacarra, Galway Airport, City Hall and Ballyloughane Beach – have run up legal costs in excess of €250,000 for the Council.

Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) said the area of the illegal encampment is in an awful condition and said it had become a health and safety and environmental matter now.

He said there are hundreds of pieces of toilet tissue on paths and gravel and stone had been brought onto the site to create “well-drained” bays for caravans, and fencing had also been erected between caravans.

“It appears to have become a more permanent fixture. That was one of the busiest parks in the city. People are being threatened, clubs interfered with in regards to training etc.

“They broke down out bollards and entered our property. Has any of this damage been reported to the relevant authorities?” he asked.

Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) asked if the €250,000 legal fees figure was accurate.

“That’s a lot of money. It’s difficult for this Council to get funds. Where is this money coming from?” she asked.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said: “Have you consulted with the Traveller representatives and asked them to intervene? These are the same three families as before. They pulled bollards out of the ground which is trespassing.”

Mr Connell said he did not know where the €250,000 figure had come from, but “significant legal costs have been incurred”.

“We’re aware of the condition of the site; environmental and housing staff have been on site.

“We’ve reported the issue to Gardaí – we’re going back into court as soon as we get a date,” said Mr Connell.

Meanwhile, councillors from the City Central Ward hit out at Mr Connell over a meeting on the Traveller Accommodation Plan last March, which they claim they were never notified of.

Mr Connell said that meetings had been arranged for all three wards and councillors informed of the dates, and in the case of City Central, there was no attendance.

An angry Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said: “What was the date of that meeting? You said in July you’d come up with the date. The Director is saying nobody turned up. That’s wrong. I want that corrected.”

Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF) said: “The Director should withdraw his comments that elected representatives were contacted. There was no meeting held or agreed. Members of City Central were not contacted.”

“I’ll double check the record. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. It went out more than likely by email,” responded Mr Connell.

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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