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CITY TRIBUNE

Easy access ‘fuels’ booze culture

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An oversupply of alcohol through off-licences in the city is fuelling binge drinking among groups of all ages, a local councillor has warned.

Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab), who is a member of the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum, said of the 305 alcohol licences in the city, just 117 of those were pubs.

As of August last year, there were 41 retailer off-licences and 29 wine retailer off-licences – with the remainder made up of 90 wine-retailer on-licences (wine bars); 11 special restaurant licences; 15 wholesale dealer; and two manufacturers in the micro-brewery sector.

“I think we really need to have a serious conversation about alcohol in this country and ask ourselves the question – have we too many licences?

“Successive Governments have failed to act on this and, looking at the figures for Galway licences, I think we need to map out the off-licences and look at how many should be in such close proximity to each other,” said Cllr McNelis.

Figures from Revenue show that alcohol consumption dipped by just 7.7% during lockdown, while pubs were closed. Cllr McNelis said this indicated where the problem lay, and it wasn’t with public houses.

“Why were the off-licences allowed to remain open all during lockdown, while the pubs were forced to close? If consumption was only down by 7.8%, you can see where the issue is.

“Don’t get me wrong, the off licences aren’t breaking any laws, but do we have an oversupply of alcohol in our city.

“I would always say that a bar is the safest environment to consume alcohol in – someone having a few drinks in the pub, where there is control over measures and how much you can get served, rather than someone drinking six cans in a short space of time at home, is obviously preferable,” said the Labour councillor.

While the Vintners Federation backed long-mooted legislation to introduce minimum unit-pricing for alcohol, Cllr McNelis believed problem drinking was as much to do with ease of access as it was with pricing.

“I don’t believe that putting 20 cent on a bottle of beer will make much difference – if you look at what the students are drinking, they’re actually buying cheap bottles of wine and mixing it with 7up.

“We have rules about locating fast food restaurants next to schools and yet you can have an off licence wherever you want.

“The City Development Plan for the next number of years will be formulated in the coming months but there’s nothing we can do to change that – it has to come from a national level.

“We have a problem with alcohol in this country – all you have to do is look at all the Communions and Confirmations that were cancelled because of Covid and now that they’re back, we have a return to the drinking sessions afterwards,” said Cllr McNelis.

The delivery of alcohol was also a growing problem, with apps such as Just Eat and Deliveroo now offering the service.

“You can order drink online with no ID, pay by card and it’s delivered to the door. What makes this worse is the only person in breach of the law if it’s sold to an underage person is the delivery driver – the person on a pittance of a wage in the gig economy – not Just Eat or Deliveroo, or even the restaurant who sold it,” said Cllr McNelis.

In a week where student drinking has been in the spotlight, he said binge drinking wasn’t related to any particular age group.

“I was shown CCTV footage of two men in their mid-30s, both langered drunk at 2am on the same night the students were in Spanish Arch, trying to get into a city car park to drive home.

“They were so drunk, they couldn’t actually find the door of the car park and pulled down the barrier instead, doing thousands of euros worth of damage.

“And what’s worse, they came back an hour later and drove out,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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