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CITY TRIBUNE

Every vote counts in the General Election

Dara Bradley

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Students of Coláiste Éinde listen attentively to a Climate Change debate at the Salthill school last week . . . they’re too young to vote, but your vote can make a difference

Bradley Bytes – A Sort of Political Column with Dara Bradley 

Every vote counts. No, seriously. Every single vote cast in tomorrow’s General Election will determine who represents Galway West in Dáil Éireann.
Not convinced and think voting makes no difference? Well consider this – what would Galway have been like without Pádraig Conneely?
Like him or loathe him – there is no middle ground – his presence on Galway City Council had an impact, be it negative or positive, depending on your outlook, on public life in Galway for 15 years.
It might never have been. In the 2004 local election, Conneely, a Fine Gael candidate, had 746 votes after the third count when Independent Mike Geraghty was eliminated. Fianna Fáil’s Martin Quinn also had 746. After a couple of recounts, they remained tied.
The ‘equality of votes’ rule meant that sitting councillor Quinn was eliminated, and lost his seat. Conneely was subsequently elected on the sixth count because Quinn had nine fewer first preference votes in the first count than Conneely. The rest is history.
In 2011, after two recounts in Galway West, Seán Kyne (FG) was elected to the Dáil ahead of Catherine Connolly (Ind), with a margin of just 17 votes.
Sinn Fein’s Maireád Farrell lost her City Council seat in May. She was 17 votes behind Owen Hanley (Soc Dems) after the ninth count. The gap grew to 19 after a recount.
It was tighter in City Central where one vote buried the hopes of John McDonagh (Labour). After the ninth count McDonagh was eight votes behind Martina O’Connor (Greens). After a recount, McDonagh and O’Connor had 768 votes each, but like Conneely in 2004, she advanced because of a higher first preference vote and was subsequently elected. His transfers favoured Collette Connolly (Ind) over Sharon Nolan (Soc Dems).

Voting makes no difference, you say? Tell that to Quinn, Conneely, Connolly, O’Connor, Nolan and McDonagh.

For more Bradley Bytes about Saturday’s General Election see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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