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Galway City Council plan to fight social exclusion


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway City Council plan to fight social exclusion Galway City Council plan to fight social exclusion

One of the main aims of Galway City Council’s Local Economic and Community Plan [LECP] between now and 2029 – published this week –  is to address the issue of social exclusion across the urban area.

The 60-page document, presented to councillors at their meeting on Monday, noted that Galway is the ‘most multi-cultural location’ in Ireland with approximately 20% of its residents recorded as non-Irish born.

The city – with a projected population figure of 120,000 by 2040 – is also currently home to 40,000 young people involved in education from primary school through to third-level institutions.

City Council Acting Director of Services, Brian Barrett, told councillors at City Hall last week that the LECP had five high-level goals, including the creation of a world class creative and innovative city, based on equality and inclusivity.

The plan, he added, would also seek to develop a sustainable and resilient city, as well as an urban area that promoted health and wellbeing.

Mr Barrett said that 75% of the actions as outlined in the plan would be carried out directly by the City Council, with the remaining 25% achieved through working with other agencies.

Councillors reacted positively to the plan – unanimously adopting it – although some concerns were raised about the challenges that could be faced in its implementation.

“The challenge really will be in how successful we are in implementing this plan. We need to tackle economic disadvantage and one of our aims should be to make third-level education a realistic goal for all in the city,” said Cllr John Connolly (FF).

He also added that the dropping of the RAPID programme (Revitalising Areas through Planning, Investment and Development) had been a retrograde step and he called for its restoration, a motion seconded by Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind).

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said that the creation of youth hubs in different areas of the city would be a very positive step to take, while Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) described the plan as ‘a very positive one’.

The fact that 75% of the plan’s actions would be driven directly by the City Council was ‘a very good thing’ according to Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) while Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) stressed the need to have the staff numbers in place to implement the strategy.

In reply, Brian Barrett said that the plan would be drawing from a number of funding programmes that were already in place but agreed that there would be staffing challenges in some areas.

“We want to prioritise, where possible, the more marginalised areas of the city and we do have one of the highest ratios in the world of second level students going on to third level.

“However, we do face challenges, as for example in the case of middle aged to older persons who don’t have the skill sets to get back into the workforce.

“We have tried to keep this plan as simple and as robust as possible to enable it to cope with the diversity of challenges we face. Trying to ensure we have an inclusive society is one of the big challenges.

“An anti-racist strategy is part of the plan, given that in Galway we have one of the highest percentage of migrants as compared to other city – we want to do this in a harmonious manner,” said Brian Barrett.

All 17 councillors at Monday’s meeting in City Hall supported the adoption of the LECP programme. The LECP document also highlighted the multi-cultural aspect of the city with 20% of the population identified as being of non-Irish origin.

“Census 2022 indicates that 30% of families are headed by lone parents compared to a state average of 25%. The Traveller community account for 2.1% of the population, compared to 0.7% nationally,” the LECP document states.

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