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Drug dealers ‘do as they please’ in Galway City Council housing


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Drug dealers ‘do as they please’ in Galway City Council housing

From the Galway City Tribune – Drug dealers are operating with impunity from City Council houses while law-abiding tenants are forced to suffer the consequences.

A meeting of Galway City Council heard that not enough was being done to ensure a small minority of residents in local authority housing were adhering to the conditions of their tenancy handbook – giving criminals a free hand to ‘do as they please’.

Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab) said there were drug dealers operating freely who were known to gardaí and the Council, and yet nothing was being done to remove them from Council-owned properties.

“In places where the City Council is the landlord, we have bad yokes in there selling drugs. And they’re in private estates as well, but these are your tenants and [the regulations] don’t stop them.

“You know who they are already,” said the Labour councillor.

The discussion arose as councillors debated a new policy to deal with anti-social behaviour and criticism was landed on the Council Executive for failing to address ongoing issues in some of its estates.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said the process for removing a tenant was too complicated and meant that those who were repeatedly breaching their tenancy agreement felt they could do so with no comeuppance.

The Council heard that several steps were required before a tenant could be evicted, as Cllr Cheevers suggested, “you might as well be bringing them out for lunch as well”.

“If someone is in serious breach [of their tenancy agreement] in terms of anti-social behaviour, why do we have to go through all of this nonsense before we can act,” he asked.

Dermot Mahon of the Council’s Housing Department said they had been in receipt of 461 complaints in 2021, 329 of which were resolved.

178 formal warning letters had been issued; tenancy notifications were sent to 19 people; 13 tenants received a statutory notification; repossession was demanded of 10 tenants; while the actual number of evictions effected was three.

“There is a whole series of steps that we must go through,” said Mr Mahon.

“The majority of situations are dealt with informally, where a conversation resolves the issue. In other instances, we write to the tenant. Once you get into the statutory warnings, that is typically where there are repeated instances of breach of tenancy agreement.”

The meeting heard that a number of properties owned by the Council had been licenced to homeless charities for operation, which was causing problems for neighbours according to Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind).

“In some of these houses [when you raise a complaint], the excuse is given that we have given it over to them.

“They are breaching our tenancy agreement and yet there is no action,” he said.

Mr Mahon said the Council regularly engaged with the organisations licencing their properties, including COPE Galway and Galway Simon.

Cllr Mike Cubbard queried why the Council had stopped keeping track of particular areas where there were issues – so-called ‘hard to let’ estates – in order to target these areas for additional youth and support services.

“We get told to do this through the City Joint Policing Committee and no disrespect to the chairperson [Cllr Níall McNelis], but that’s a talking shop and nothing more,” said Cllr Cubbard.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 16. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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