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Galway Rape Crisis Centre plans move to new building

Dara Bradley



A computer-generated image of how the new centre at the Claddagh will look.

A visitor to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre once remarked to its Executive Director, Cathy Connolly, that he didn’t like its location, tucked away in a corner of the Forster Court estate.

The well-known Galway sportsman, who was helping the charity with a project, felt it was ‘like you’re hiding away’.

Ms Connolly, while very grateful to COPE Galway for allowing GRCC to base itself there for the past seven-plus years, understood what he meant.

“It all ties in with the shame and the guilt around sexual violence,” she said, while chatting from a physical distance at the Centre.

But the Centre will be moving to a much more public and prominent position in Galway City, conditional on planning permission being granted by Galway City Council in July.

It’s a homecoming of sorts because the Galway Rape Crisis Centre is returning to its roots at Claddagh Quay, overlooking the Claddagh Basin opposite Long Walk.

The organisation has lodged a planning application to knock and rebuild a three-bedroom house it owns beside the Fire Station and Judo Club on the western side of the quay, which it outgrew before moving to Forster Court.

“We can’t pretend it’s (sexual violence) not happening but we are very conscious of people’s privacy,” said Ms Connolly when asked about the increased visibility of the planned new purpose-built centre for clients and 30-strong staff, including counsellors.

“Our core service is counselling victims or survivors of rape and sexual violence and abuse. There’ll be no problem with privacy. No big sign outside, clients will be let in discreetly; there’ll be a side-entrance if anyone wants to use it, and we wouldn’t let people out if they’re upset anyway. We had 4,000 appointments last year; they’re not coming in throngs, we can spread it out over five days,” she said.

GRCC was founded in 1984 by a group of Galway women concerned about the lack of services for survivors of sexual abuse and rape.

It was initially based at Mary Street, and subsequently Claddagh, and now its current base adjacent to the former Magdalen Laundry building.

“COPE has very kindly let us stay here for as long as we need to. We’re very grateful for the support and we’re looking forward to moving because they need the building. We are here until we have our new home built,” said Ms Connolly.

The project will cost about €1.3 million and GRCC already has a head-start.

“We have about €250,000 or €300,000 of it from Lifes2good Foundation, James and Maria Murphy, who founded it, and their CEO Maurice McQuillan, from Athenry, have been very good to us. We basically have to fundraise €1 million plus. It really is the people of Galway who we’ll be relying on,” she said.

Mark Flanagan, MD of the electrical and mechanical engineering Kirby Group, will supply services without charge when building starts.

Eugene Mulcaire and Owen Coughlan of urbanARQ Architects have designed the new three-storey building, also free of charge. “It’s sympathetic to the surroundings,” said Ms Connolly.

“The building is needed to house the service. We own the site. We’re knocking the building and trying to build a brand-new purpose-built building to house a counselling service. We operate regular hours, we’re quiet, it won’t put anybody out, it’s respectful of the neighbourhood. We’re just putting a better building in,” she said.

GRCC is the second busiest in the country after Dublin, and supports survivors from all over Galway, as well as North Clare and South Roscommon. It has outreach services in Ballinasloe, Oughterard and Gort.

“We’re spreading our tentacles but we want a home base,” she said. “I think a fresh, clean, bright purpose-built place where counsellors could make it our own would be good for survivors. It’s there forever then, belonging to the people of Galway.”

Ms Connolly, who has already contacted Claddagh residents and shared the plans with neighbours, said the beautiful setting would be uplifting for clients.

“We deal a lot with historical abuse. I was on the radio one day and this man came to the door afterwards and said ‘I heard you on the radio, it’s taken me fifty-something years to get the courage to come in’. He had been abused as a young lad. A lot of the historical abuse is people my age, who didn’t deal with it and it’s taken forty or fifty years to come in and they’re getting counselling.

“All they’re doing is coming in to talk; it’s nothing that anyone should be afraid of. We’re run as a professional service and we want a professional purpose-built building that really suits the clients.

“These are sons and daughters of Galway people – they’re not from out of space, they’re people’s brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grannies, mums and dads,” she added.


Footfall down by 80% in Galway city centre

Stephen Corrigan



Shop Street on Ladies Day of the Galway Races

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Footfall in the city centre was down by about 80% during what would normally be a bumper three weeks in the city, with this year’s Arts Festival and Summer Racing Festival both falling foul of Covid-19 restrictions.

Data compiled by the Galway City Business Association (GCBA) – which is a measure of mobile phone users at various points in the city centre – shows that there were over half a million fewer movements recorded during Race Week this year, representing around a 77% decline on the same week in 2019.

While the figures are by no means a conclusive count of individuals in the city, they do provide a good guide as to how many people are traversing the main thoroughfares over an extended period.

During the second week of the Arts Festival in 2019, just short of 900,000 movements were recorded in what was the city’s single busiest seven days of the year.

However, with the absence of the Big Top and various other Arts Festival venues this year, just over 150,000 movements were recorded in the same week this year.

Well-known city businessman and GCBA member Anthony Ryan said that the situation was gradually improving, but it was obviously a very different Race Week this year.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway City Council orders removal of new footbridge

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The installation of a footbridge over the Middle River at Newtownsmyth has led Galway City Council to warn the adjacent property owner to remove the structure, or face legal proceedings.

Property developer John Curley, who owns the commercial unit involved at Abhainn na mBradán, has received instruction from City Hall to have the bridge removed by today (Friday) in what the Galway City Tribune understands is being treated as a ‘extremely serious breach’ of planning regulations.

Mr Curley told this newspaper that the €25,000 bridge could not be removed this week as his architect was on holidays, and he was still considering what to do about the Council’s order.

Mr Curley said businessman Eric Furey had opened a new café in the building two weeks ago – the building also houses Born Clothing and Papa Rich restaurant.

The bridge had been installed to coincide with the opening of Roots Café and both Mr Curley and Mr Furey argued that it was crucial to the business’ survival that there was access from the busy canal walkway.

“We are going to fight this,” said Mr Curley, adding that it had been their intention to seek retention for the bridge, but that had been ruled out by city planners who refused to give permission to utilise public land on the far side of the canal.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said: “Immediately on becoming aware of the installation of this structure across the canal, Galway City Council Planning Department requested the immediate removal of the structure.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Anger over illegal parking of camper vans in Salthill

Enda Cunningham



Camper vans illegally parked on Rockbarton Road this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has admitted that it is difficult to enforce bylaws banning the parking of caravans and camper vans on roads in Salthill.

It follows complaints from elected representatives and local residents again this Summer in relation to illegal dumping and ‘unsightly’ parking on the Promenade and alongside Leisureland.

Under the Council’s own Parking Control Bylaws 2009, parking of ‘temporary dwellings’ (which includes caravans, mobile homes, tents and any structure whether on wheels or not) is prohibited on the Prom; Quincentennial Drive (behind Toft Carpark); Rockbarton Road (adjacent to Leisureland) and on the Western Distributor Road. Council carparks are also off limits.

Local area councillor Donal Lyons said the problem seemed to be worse this year, which he believed is due to holidaying staycationers.

Councillor Peter Keane said that it is a ‘small few’ people that are giving caravaners a bad name.

“We welcome holidaymakers, but let them go into the caravan parks where proper services are provided, such as electricity and water.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said that the local authority’s experience was that it has proved difficult to enforce the parking ban over the years.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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