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Families on supplement fork out for rent top-ups



More than 3,000 families and individuals in Galway are getting rent supplement – but a huge proportion of them have to pay ’top-ups’ to meet the actual cost of renting their home, according to a Galway TD.

Independent Deputy Noel Grealish said that latest figures showed that while there were 3,184 receiving rent supplement in Galway City and County at the end of March, only 155 were getting extra payments to meet the cost of renting.

“This means that a huge number of people are having to pay out of their own pockets the difference between what they get in rent supplement and what they are being charged by landlords.

“Currently, the most a family of, say, a couple with three children, can get in rent supplement is €750 a month – but that is falling well short of what the majority of properties are charging.

“The only option they have is to pay the balance themselves, even though they are not supposed to do so under the rules – and judging by the people who have contacted me about this, they are topping up by €100 and more a month,” said Deputy Grealish.

The Independent TD for Galway West said that even if an increase of up to 15% in rent supplements promised in the Programme for Government is extended to Galway, the maximum of €862.50 would still fall short of the rents charged for the cheapest three-beds in Galway City.

Deputy Grealish said that a study of properties advertised on the popular website last week showed that there wasn’t a single three-bedroomed home available for rent in Galway City within the rent supplement limits.

“The cheapest three-bed on offer in the city – apart from the odd summer rental – was €950 a month for an apartment in Ballybrit and the same for a house in Knocknacarra, which is €200 a month above the maximum rent supplement.

“Any other three-bedroomed properties for rent in the city would cost at least €1,000 a month, most of them a lot more,” he said.

Deputy Grealish said that the same difficulties were faced by single people, couples and small families.

“There wasn’t a single property in the city available for longer term rent that cost less than the maximum rent supplement in each case,” he pointed out.

And the picture was not much better for people seeking suitable accommodation throughout the county.

“There are more properties available that are charging less than the rent supplement cap the further away you get from Galway City, but they are limited enough.

“And it’s no comfort to someone who wants to find a place to live near Claregalway that they could find a place that suits their pocket 60 miles away in Clifden.”

Deputy Grealish said that a realistic approach needed to be taken in the setting of limits for rent supplement.

Currently the limits for Galway are: Single (sharing) €280, couple (sharing) €300, single €475, couple €540, couple/parent with one qualified child €700, couple/parent with two children €725 and couple/parent with three children €750.

“In a place like Galway, where properties are scarce and rents are particularly high, we need to immediately raise the limits that are paid, and to a realistic level.

“The Programme for Partnership Government commits to raising the rent supplement ‘by up to 15%’ taking account of geographic variations.

“We need that and more in Galway if we are to be real about this – there are fewer than one in 20 Galway rent supplement recipients getting their payments boosted at the moment.

“It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to what is going on, where families who are struggling are being forced to pay extra from severely limited means just to keep a roof over their heads.

“It might also help to stem the tide of families who are being forced to declare themselves homeless and become the responsibility of the local council to provide emergency accommodation,” added Deputy Grealish.


Councillors offer support to LGBT+ centre for city



Teach Solus...the original Amach centre in Galway, which closed in 2019.

Councillors voted to include support for a resource centre for the wider gay community in the next development plan despite concerns that would amount to discrimination against groups lobbying for their own dedicated facilities.

Social Democrats Councillor Owen Hanley told a draft development plan meeting that Galway was the largest city in Ireland not to have a LGBT+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender+) resource centre after Teach Solais closed in 2019 due to a lack of dedicated funding to meet operating costs.

A room was set up in the Westside Centre to hold certain activities organised by the community group Amach but a standalone resource centre was vital, he stated.

“It’s about sending a strong signal to the national government that we take this seriously,” he stressed.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said “many, many” organisations had approached her and other councillors requesting their own centre, among them the Indian and Muslim communities.

“I could name another ten,” she remarked. “Why would we specify a centre for a particular community that could discriminate against the Indian or Muslim community.”

She said support for a multi-functional community facility was preferable rather than designating a specific puspose.

Senior executive planner Helen Coleman agreed, saying the Council had no objection to a LGBT+ resource centre, it had a policy of supporting all community facilities collectively rather than singling out one “that would trump all others”.

Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) asked what guarantee was there that a LGBT centre would be delivered, pointing out that a proposal for a western writers’ centre had been in three successive plans but it had never materialised.

Fianna Fáil’s Mike Crowe believed support for this facility did not rule out all others. He stressed that community centres could be used by all people in Galway, “no matter what race or creed you are”.

“I think this proposal is merited, it’s needed and required and parents around the county would appreciate it. It’s not that discriminate against other groups.”

On recommendation of the planners, Cllr McDonnell tabled a motion that the Council encouraged the provision of facilities to support all community groups, including the LGBT+ community.

Cllr Hanley said this would downgrade the objective contained in successive plans. He wanted to single out the objective as a standalone policy to elevate its importance. When that motion failed by seven votes, Cllr Hanley’s proposal was passed by unanimous agreement.


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Plans afloat for another new bridge over Corrib



An artist’s impression of the pedestrian bridge.

The next City Development Plan will pave the way for a new bridge across the Corrib at Newtownsmyth – in addition to the Salmon Weir Pedestrian Bridge which is due to begin construction later this year.

The Draft Plan, which was approved by councillors last week and will soon go on public display, includes a specific objective to “investigate the potential for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge from Gaol Road to Newtownsmyth”.

This, according to the plan, will contribute to the regeneration of Nun’s Island.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) raised the issue and said while it was welcome, it was something he was unaware of until councillors were presented with the plan.

Senior Engineer Uinsinn Finn said while the proposal was in its very early stages, a new bridge would encourage a greater modal shift – away from car dependency towards increased walking and cycling.

“The more bridges you have, the more encouragement you give to active modes of transport.

“There is no specific location for it as yet, but the objective is open-ended so that would allow for further investigation,” said Mr Finn, pointing to the former Hygeia Chemicals site as a regeneration project that could be augmented by the addition of a bridge.

The plan also includes for improved pedestrian crossing facilities adjacent to the existing Wolfe Tone Bridge and the progression of a pedestrian and cycle bridge on the Old Clifden Railway Line which could potentially link to the Greenway network.

“The proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge on the piers of the Old Clifden Railway line from Woodquay to NUI Galway will link places of study, work, retail and recreation by sustainable modes of transport, bringing vibrancy and new areas of public realm.

“The bridge, which has attracted Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) funding, will link in with the existing walking route along the River Corrib and ultimately the Connemara Greenway and also play a key role in connectivity in the GTS cycle network,” states the draft plan.


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Search is on for Miss Galway as Ireland celebrate its 75th Diamond Jubilee



Miss Ireland Pamela Uba announcing the search for her successor.

The current Miss Galway still has to jet back out to Puerto Rico for the second part of this year’s Miss World competition – but already the hunt is on for her successor!

Because while Pamela Uba still has most of her year to run as Miss Ireland, the organisers have announced the competition to find her heir apparent.

And as an added bonus, this next event marks the 75th Jubilee of the competition with plans for the largest and most spectacular show this summer.

Galway provided four of last year’s finalists – with Pamela joined by Miss Galway West 28-year-old Emma Finnegan from Clonberne; Miss Galway Bay 24-year-old Yvonne O’Brien, and Miss Salthill, 19-year-old Emma Pender.

But it was Pamela, the 26-year-old Renmore resident and medical scientist at Galway University Hospital, who went on to win the coveted Miss Ireland crown.

She has since featured prominently across media here and also made waves internationally, appearing on TV in Los Angeles, London, Johannesburg and even featuring in the New York Times.

Pamela spent a month in Puerto Rico representing Ireland at Miss World before Covid curtailed the pageant – and she is all set to jet back out there in March for the overall final.

“Puerto Rico is a gorgeous country, with blue water, water sands. I love the culture, the music, the food. The girls are lovely, I’ve made friends from places I’d have never thought,” she said.

And because of the virus outbreak which saw 15 staff and 23 of the contestants – though fortunately not Pamela – confirmed as Covid positive during the pageant, she now gets to do it all again!

“Who gets to represent their country twice?” she said.

“It’s a great blessing I get to do this again. I get the chance to go out again and with luck and God by our side we’ll do even better.”

But in the meantime, the organisers are stepping up the competition for her successor.

Selections will run all over the country to find contestants from each county with beauty, poise and personality to take part in the Miss Ireland 2022 competition next summer.

The winner from each county represents their county at the most spectacular ever Diamond Jubilee Miss Ireland show.

The winner of each of the county crowns and sashes also enjoy representing their county and title throughout the year at various events, awards and appearances.

This year’s winner will receive a lucrative agency contract and a host of prizes including jewellery, gowns, professional photo shoots, beauty and hair products and then jet off to represent her country at the Miss World Festival which is televised in over 100 countries around the world.

Full details on how to enter Miss Ireland 2022 are available on or on the Miss Ireland App now available from Apple App Store or Google Play.



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