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Galway duo launch emergency phone charger

Denise McNamara



Two former band mates from Loughrea have created an emergency phone charger to be rolled out in pubs and clubs which they hope will turn them into Galway’s latest entrepreneurial sensations.

While portable phone chargers are ten a penny, Chargys are designed for people who are not prepared and get stuck without any bar of charge on their precious mobile phones while out for the night.

For the price of a drink, customers can charge their phone in under an hour, getting between twenty and fifty per cent charge, enough to get them home.

The devices which they can bring with them are single use – they can either be disposed of in a battery recycling bin or returned to the seller for recycling.

After hitting the pubs of Galway, Jonathan Madden (27) and Bryan Larkin (26) have already pre-sold 1,500 units before they have even arrived from the manufacturer in Hong Kong.

Jonathan this week is travelling to Italy and London to talk to stockists about the Chargy, with interest from pubs and clubs in Dublin and as far away as Germany.

“There’s nothing quite like this on the market. It’s for people who need their phone to get through the rest of the night and for pubs who don’t have chargers or who can’t be bothered with them,” explained Jonathan.

“It’s giving a service but also generates revenue for the pubs. We have decided to go ahead and order 5,000 so we can have them out there for the Christmas market.”

The pair, who met through the local music scene in Loughrea, used to be in the band Sucker Charlie. Bryan, who now sells tiles in Galway City, first came up with the idea after getting stuck himself.

“He was going out for a night in Loughrea and his mammy said give him a ring if he needed a lift. By the end of the night he had no charge on the phone and all his friends had disappeared. He had no option but to start walking home to Abbey in Portumna – it was twenty miles away.”

Jonathan, who has a Masters in Music Technology from the University of Limerick, works from home as a broker for IT parts.

They first undertook extensive research. They found that only one in ten people had more than thirty per cent battery life after 11pm. Most had ten per cent or less. One of the biggest causes of stress for parents on a night out was losing battery charge when they needed to be in contact with babysitters.

“Some bars we spoke to offer charging points but many don’t carry the chargers and worry about phones getting broken or stolen if they take them in behind the counter.

“Many simply refused to charge phones behind the bar after a certain time. Others had these charging units but found they took up too much space and didn’t work well.”

Once they sourced a manufacturer capable of creating the lithium device, they spent several more months of testing and research. It has a CE safety classification.

“We hope people will stick with the Chargy for its quality. We wanted to go for something of the highest quality.

“Your phone could be costing €1,000 – you don’t want to go sticking it into anything potentially dangerous.”


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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