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Derelict homes have potential to ease waiting list, TD claims

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The Government has been urged to allocate some of the €300m social housing funding announced last week towards renovating derelict private homes and renting them from their owners.

It’s a move that could take people off the waiting lists for local authority housing much more quickly than building new houses, Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish said yesterday.

He welcomed the Government’s announcement of a social housing strategy that committed to the provision of 35,000 additional social housing units at a cost of €3.8 billion over the next 6 years, with an immediate allocation of €300m, half of which will come from the European Investment Bank.

“But even if we started tomorrow morning the process of building houses, it could actually be four or five years before you could turn a key – by the time you’d go through the whole planning process and construction, it would be at least three years.

“However, there are 90,000 people on the waiting lists for local authority housing nationwide and they can’t wait that long to get a roof over their heads. Something needs to be done immediately,” said Deputy Grealish.

He said a very cost effective partial solution would be a grants scheme to help renovate private houses lying vacant at the moment, rent them from their owners and allocate them to people in need of a home.

“If you travel the countryside in Galway and indeed all over the country, you will see a lot of derelict houses, particularly old farm houses that are lying vacant. Their elderly owners may have died and left the property to their children, who cannot afford to do them up, so they are just lying there vacant.

“I am suggesting that the Government brings forward a scheme to help people do up these houses – it mightn’t cost a lot, maybe between €10,000 and €20,000, to bring them up to a standard where people could actually move into them and we could take a lot of people off the housing waiting list.

Deputy Grealish said that the scheme would offer the bonus of breathing new life into the rural countryside and boost declining rural communities.

“It’s a scheme that could work very successfully for everyone involved. If you went around the country you would find four or five thousand of these houses and a spend of €10 million or €15 million could go a long way.

“It could take a lot of people off the waiting list and it would also stop a lot of these houses from going totally derelict.

“The homes would remain in the hands of their owners, who would commit to renting them for allocation to people on the list for a certain number of years, and during that time get a valuable income stream from something that’s returning nothing at the moment.

“For the Government, it gives them fast access to a pool of housing at a relatively low cost, and for local tradesmen on the Live Register it offers the chance of employment. It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” added Deputy Grealish.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run

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A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda

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Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway

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Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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