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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council launches new housing schemes

Dara Bradley

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A sum of €25 million will be ploughed into tackling the county’s housing shortage with the construction of three social housing schemes this year.

This figure is on top of the €15 million spent last year on refurbishing and building new Council houses across Galway.

And Galway County Council last week unveiled a new plan to set up a dedicated team of experts to draw down more money from the State to continue to invest in housing projects to ease the housing and homelessness crisis.

Director of Services for Housing, Michael Owens said the Council was pumping €25 million into building social houses in the county this year and next. He detailed three housing projects that were at design, contract and construction stage and which would increase the social housing stock by over 110.

Some 68 homes are under construction in Tullahill in Loughrea, and these will be delivered on a phased basis between now and the end of 2020, he said.

Another four homes are to be built in An Cheathrú Rua; and the contract for this project was awarded to Finna Construction earlier this month.

The €25m cash will also allow for the appointment of a design team for the construction of approximately 40 houses in Tir an Bhuí in Tuam.

Mr Owens also informed County Councillors on Monday that some €15 million had been invested already in the Tuam regeneration area which comprised of the refurbishment of 21 houses on Gilmartin Road, the construction of 40 new homes in Cúil Ghréine (28) and Gort an Chláir (12), which are all due for completion in July and the approval for the 40 houses in Tir an Bhuí.

Other projects – including new social houses in Clifden and Roundstone – were also being progressed, Mr Owens assured Connemara Councillors Eileen Mannion and Gerry King.

Chief Executive of Galway County Council Kevin Kelly outlined his vision to create an ‘urban and rural regeneration team’ made up of engineers and Council staff, which would be dedicated to drawing down grants for more housing projects.

Mr Kelly said the County Council has been very successful in the recent past at tapping into funding streams but a dedicated team that targets grant applications could reap even more rewards for the county.

He was awaiting approval from the Department to fund the team, he said. He explained that Government funding streams have increased in recent years to tackle the homeless crisis facing the country and the Council needed a dedicated team to capitalise and get its fair share of the additional funding.

Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) said it was a good idea and suggested that priority was being given to projects that were ‘shovel ready’. Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) said a dedicated team to draw down funding would be welcome.

Mr Kelly said the Council needs to get Government approval for the new team, and there was no budget yet for it. “The question is not whether we can afford it, but can we afford not to,” he asked.

Cllr Joe Byrne (FG) said there were a lot of positive developments on the housing front in the county, and he asked that Mr Owens give a presentation to elected members about all of the housing projects that are being progressed at the moment.

Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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