More than 2,000 people in Galway with limited means are facing a new bill, following the ending of a waiver on their refuse collection charges.
They will have to pay about €170 extra this year, according to Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish. They are former users of Galway City Council’s domestic refuse collection service, which ended two years ago, when it was taken over by Barna Waste. Part of the agreement was that up to 2,400 people of limited means would continue to enjoy a waiver of charges for two years. That came to an end at the start of this year.
Deputy Grealish highlighted the extra charge as one of several — adding up to about €1,000 — that older people in Galway have had to endure over the past five years.
Speaking at an election hustings in the Westwood Hotel, organised by Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland, Deputy Grealish said that older people’s concerns tended to be ignored by government and should be addressed in the next programme for government.
“They must also be given a voice in the Cabinet,” he said. “To achieve this, I believe the role of the Minister for Children should be expanded, so that we have a Minister for Children and Older People.
“There is currently a Junior Minister, whose responsibilities include older people. But this way, the issues that most affect them will be heard at Cabinet level where the real decisions are made.”
Deputy Grealish said that rather than being nurtured and looked after in their autumn years, older people had been subjected to a whole series of cuts over the past five years.
“Many people mistakenly believe that older people have been kept safe from the austerity measures because the maximum state pension was not reduced.
“But we carried out an exercise in our office which shows that an average older couple in Galway have to pay out about €1,000 more today as a result of these cutbacks.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.