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Families on supplement fork out for rent top-ups

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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 daft.ie 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.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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