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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway native aims to use foundation of friendship to help in time of need

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Many’s the good idea is conceived sitting around the kitchen table. But most remain just that – ideas never realised.

One man, however – who came up with an idea on how to help a friend in need – was determined to do something so that other people who faced similar obstacles could get the help they needed to get on with their lives.

‘Cáirde – Friends Matter’ is a nationwide initiative that was conceived around a Galway table but could help countless families once it is rolled out in communities, sporting clubs and schools.

The man behind the movement is Tadhg Ó Beaglaoich from Salthill, who now lives in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Other Galway-based founding members were Andrew Murphy, Clement Shevlin, and John Joe Burke.

Tadhg saw first-hand how a friend facing mental health issues found it hard to make his way in life.

“I have been aware from a young age how problems can hinder you from getting on with your life. In my own case it was dyslexia, which I hid for years.

“There are a range of problems relating to mental health issues from social anxiety, which can be crippling, to depression, to feeling suicidal.

“But there are also other problems like domestic violence, bereavement or post-natal depression, for example, which are all issues people don’t want or feel they can’t talk about,” said Tadhg.

He said he wanted to provide a peer-to-peer support group where people could reach out to people via a network organised centrally. As he says himself, “ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” which translates as ‘the importance of supporting one another’.

But primarily, Cáirde is an approved housing body which got charity status a fortnight ago which will be engaging with local authorities to secure accommodation for those who suffer from from any variation of mental health issue.

Tadhg is a firm believer that having a roof over your head is a basic necessity but that all too often, people can lose their homes due to their own mental health issues.

Cáirde will be providing homes by coming up with 20% of funding required per unit with the balance paid for out of public funds.

“This is not about homelessness,” stresses Cathie Farrell, a Salthill woman who has known Tadhg all her life and who has come on board to help get the movement off the ground.

Cathie, who is currently living in Dublin, is thrilled to be in a position to help and indeed is one of a handful of key people Tadhg has entrusted with a number of various strands of Cáirde.

“As well as concentrating on the accommodation aspect, we are also in the process of, through social media, publicity and word of mouth, establishing a network of people who want to volunteer.

“A group of trustees is currently being trained in first response course given by the St John of Gods in Stillorgan which will educate people on knowing what signs to look for in people suffering from anxiety, depression or whatever.

“And we also hope to roll out something similar in schools educating children as young as nine in recognising mental health issues and more importantly helping to remove the stigma surrounding all aspects of mental health and provide early intervention,” said Cathie.

Both Cathie and Tadhg acknowledge that there are other organisations providing support and backup for people with mental health issues but believe that Cáirde will fill a particular gap.

Cáirde recognises that there are many strands of mental health and that possibly social anxiety and a bout of depression for example are not always taken as seriously as other types of mental health issues.

Tadhg adds: “If your social anxiety means you can’t leave the house, it means you can’t do your job. And if you can’t do your job, you may not be able to pay for or secure accommodation.

“We have certainly lost something since the boom years. We are answerable to technology instead of to one another and I am hoping that this peer-to-peer network will address that.”

And though Tadhg, who lived in Galway from the age of one up until he moved to Newbridge three years ago, has been working on his idea for over two years, he found out recently that a very similar organisation was set up in Australia.

In fact there are any number of mentoring organisations worldwide but obviously Cáirde will be tailored to suit the Irish, a country renowned for its friendliness, its homeliness and generosity.

But Tadhg is now hoping that Irish people will direct all these good traits into helping people in their own community.

Cáirde is being officially launched in Dingle at the end of the month with a number of activities including a cycle around Slea Head, a golf classic, soccer, GAA and rugby tournaments.

Similar fundraising events will be taking place during the year in Galway and elsewhere and anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer, to donate, sponsor or participate can get in touch with either Cathie or Tadhg at 086-8131452.

■ More information about ‘Cáirde Friends Matter’ can be accessed on their Facebook page or at cairde.org

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

(Photo by UAV. Unmanned Aerial Videography & Photography).

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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