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Galway immigration campaigner becomes US citizen

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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A Galway man who emigrated to Chicago seventeen years ago and was named last year as one of the top ten American community leaders got US citizenship last week.

Billy Lawless and his wife Anne, who are considered ‘restaurant royalty’ in their adopted Chicago, were sworn in at a conferring ceremony on Thursday when they took the Oath of Allegiance and registered to vote.

They own the Gage gastropub and a restaurant, Henri, on Michigan Avenue, the Dawson in River West and the Irish Oak in Wrigleyville.

Billy is also a board member and co-founder of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition and fights tirelessly for immigration reform.

A native of Rahoon, where his family ran a dairy business and` creamery, Billy was a publican in Galway City before becoming a hotelier (the Twelve Pins in Barna) before moving to Chicago in 1997.

It was his experience of immigration workers that led him to become involved in a campaign to seek reforms in that area. As a respected employer in the Windy City, Billy has become an unofficial port of call for many Galway and indeed Irish students in the city on J1 visas.

In the last decade he has become part of President Barack Obama’s inner circle having worked with him voluntarily when he was a Senator based in Chicago, and is a regular guest at the White House.

Billy Lawless is Chair of Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform and was described by IrishCentral.com as “a great activist on immigration issues, who made sure that Obama’s local Chicago operatives were well aware of the Irish American interest in reform. A tireless worker for new immigration legislation.”

The Lawlesses were joined on Thursday by their grown-up children who are also based in Chicago. They are John Paul, Amy, Clodagh and Billy.

Billy Lawless was the subject of Mark Brown’s column in the Chicago Sun Times at the weekend and a Senator congratulated him during his address on the Senate floor the day after the ceremony. It is an indication of how well the Rahoon man is regarded in Chicago and how powerful he has become in political and human rights circles on the other side of the Atlantic.

They visit Galway at least twice if not more a year and are as aware of the local political scene here as they are of Chicago’s politics.

Billy said he was thrilled to have become a US citizen saying he feels completely at home in his adopted city.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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