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Free parking plan comes off the rails



Paid-for parking in county towns needs to be reviewed and at least some free time allowed say traders

Any attempts to provide a period of free parking in the county’s towns in an effort to boost trade have been scuppered after members of Galway County Council failed to reach agreement on the matter.

A two hour debate often bordered on the bizarre as several different councillors wanted different free parking arrangements to be put in place on a trial basis but in the end it was agreed that the status quo remains.

It has come up at several meetings of Galway County Council over the past year with demands that a period of free town centre parking be provided for shoppers in an effort to boost business for the local traders.

But there was a major disagreement on when the period of free parking should apply. Some councillors wanted it between 9am and 10am in the morning while others were in favour of an hour long period of free parking that could be taken at any time during the day – however, this was said to be very difficult to police.

Council officials had warned that any period of free parking would be costly and the revenue would have to come out of the roads budget – this sent ‘the wind up’ several councillors who wanted the roads budget maintained.

A committee was established to come back with a recommendation and Cllr Mogie Maher from Loughrea came back with four possible options – one hour in the morning, two free hours in the morning, a floating one hour period and a floating two hour period.

The latter two hour floating free parking period would cost the Council almost 435,000 in lost revenue and that this would be stripped from the roads budget.

Cllr Maher proposed that a one hour morning free parking period be applied on a trial basis for six months and that the situation be reviewed after that.

It resulted in heated exchanges between councillors with Cllr Maher’s Fine Gael colleague Cllr Michael Finnerty producing a picture of a street in Ballinasloe one morning and it showed that there were no cars around.

Cllr Finnerty said that the paid parking were boosting the edge of town big retailers who provided free car parks while the main ratepayers were struggling. “Our county towns are dying and we are doing nothing to address the situation.

There was then controversy when it was revealed that Clifden’s parking charges do not apply until 11am in the morning. Cllr Eileen Mannion said that this had been the case since parking charges in the town applied and it was passed by members of Galway County Council.

This prompted Cllr Donagh Killilea to propose a two hour period of free parking which, he said, would mean that there would be consistency between all of the towns in the county.

But Fianna Fail’s Cllr Malachy Noone wanted each of the five Municipal Councils in the county to rule on their own parking fees and arrangements. He was told by Chief Executive Kevin Kelly that any free parking arrangements had to be passed at a full Council meeting. This sparked a further row.

In the end Cllr Mogie Maher withdrew his original proposal of one hour free parking and instead proposed that the current situation remain the same. This was agreed on a vote of 21 for and nine against.

The traditional free parking arrangements in the run up to Christmas will remain.


More than one third of adults have no pension



The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published new research outlining Irish adults’ preparations for their retirement.

The research findings show that a high percentage of consumers do not have any pension plan in place. When asked their reasons for not having a pension in place, 32% stated that they have yet to get around to it, 20% feel they are too young and a further 20% don’t feel they can afford it.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those in the 55-64 years age group – those who may expect to retire in the next decade – reported that they don’t currently have a pension in place. 77% of this age cohort expect to qualify for the State Contributory pension as one way of funding their retirement.

Of the 735 adults who took part in the research, two thirds (66%) stated they would be using the State Contributory pension to help fund their retirement. The research also shows that 32% of those questioned were unaware of the amount of the State Contributory pension payment (currently €253 per week).

Respondents intend to supplement their pension plans with a variety of other forms of retirement funding, including, selling a property (24%), rental income (23%), equity release (15%) and selling a business (14%). One third of those aged 25-34 expect to use funds from the sale of a property or income from a rental property as a source of funding in retirement.

Kevin O’Brien, Member of the CCPC, said: “This research suggests a lack of provision for adequate retirement income among a considerable cohort of Irish adults.

“It raises concerns therefore around the long-term financial well-being of consumers, with 38% having no pension in place.

Of those surveyed, many cite the time to set up a pension or being too young as barriers to making pension provisions.

“Pension planning is key to maintaining financial well-being in retirement and it is evident from this new research that many Irish adults do not have the necessary provisions in place to provide for a secure retirement, despite the significant tax reliefs available on pension contributions.


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Connacht Tribune

Local Ireland welcomes move to 0% VAT for news publishers



Local Ireland, the association representing 32 weekly paid-for newspapers around the country, has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to remove VAT on newspapers.

President of Local Ireland Declan McGuire said: “This is a very important move for news publishers.

“Zero per cent VAT will allow local newspapers around Ireland to invest in journalism and in the transition to new digital business models.

“News publishers have faced a series of major challenges over recent years, most recently the huge increases in the cost of newsprint. This move will help support jobs in the industry and sustain the quality of our service to readers.

“We very much appreciate this endorsement by Government for the valuable role we play in our communities and the public service content we provide.

“I would like to thank the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and all the Ministers, TDs and Senators from across the political spectrum who have given their support to our campaign to end VAT on journalism.”

Executive Director of Local Ireland Bob Hughes said: “Local news publishers are the lifeblood of the communities they serve. Along with our national colleagues represented by NewsBrands Ireland, we play a vital role in Ireland’s democracy.

“Today’s decision will protect the future of trusted, professional journalism in Ireland against the tide of global disinformation that threatens to undermine healthy democratic debate and analysis.”




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Connacht Tribune

Galway call-out with entries now open for Guaranteed Irish Business Awards



Pictured at the launch of the Guaranteed Irish Business Awards are Patrick Farrell,Retail Banking Director, Permanent TSB; Michael Jackson, Managing Partner, Matheson; broadcaster Anton Savage, and Christina Conlon, Marketing Manager, Guaranteed Irish.

Guaranteed Irish has announced the launch of the 2023 Guaranteed Irish Business Awards, celebrating the best of locally based businesses in recognition of their contribution to business in the country.

The Awards – back after their inaugural year – aim to put the spotlight on local businesses that have made a commitment to support local jobs and contribute to local communities across the country.

The event, which will be MCed by broadcaster Anton Savage, will take place at an awards luncheon in The Shelbourne Hotel on Tuesday, March 14 2023.

“Guaranteed Irish has been supporting businesses in Ireland for almost 50 years and is recognised as the national symbol for trust in business and provenance,” explained Brid O’Connell, CEO of Guaranteed Irish.

“It’s important to celebrate the best of homegrown businesses as well as firms that have chosen to operate locally here in Ireland. Through the Guaranteed Irish licensed symbol, consumers identify businesses that build local supply chains, support local jobs, and embrace sustainable business practices.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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