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Galway’s richest boast a combined €1.4bn fortune

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Galway brothers Luke and Brian Comer are among the richest men in Ireland, with a wealth of €675 million.

They are among fourteen individuals and families either from Galway or currently living here, who have a combined fortune of just under €1.4 billion.

The Comers are former plasterers from Glenamaddy and feature in 16th place in the ‘Ireland’s Rich List 2014’, published by the Sunday Independent at the weekend.

However, there are also notable omissions from the Rich List, including Supermac’s chief Pat McDonagh (valued by the rival Sunday Times at €146m), Thomas McDonogh (of the McDonogh Group valued at €86m) and John Concannon of Tuam-based plastics firm JFC (valued at €41m).

The Comer brothers – the main backers of the new Galway FC League of Ireland team – earned their fortune by developing properties in the UK in the 1980s, before buying an extensive portfolio of office blocks, almost 30 shopping centres and hotels in the UK and Germany.

The proceeds from selling-off some of their assets have been pumped back into Ireland over the past two years, and their purchases in Galway include the ‘Odeon syndicate’ site in Eyre Square, the Connacht Hotel on the Dublin Road, the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel, the Kingston Hall and Silver Seas apartment developments in Knocknacarra, Bun na Leaca in Newcastle and Howley Square in Oranmore.

They are now valued at €675m – that’s up €300m on last year.

John Flaherty from Athenry, who has the majority shareholding in C&F Tooling is at No 113, with a wealth of €95 (up €30m). Sales for the company have more than trebled to €139m since he moved into wind turbines and renewable energy, and he now employs 1,350 people.

The Smyth brothers – Anthony, Pádraig, Thomas and Liam – are at No 126 with an estimated wealth of €82m (up €7m). The family is originally from Claremorris, but is firmly established in Galway since the early 1990s. They own around 50 toy shops in Ireland and the UK, as well as having property investments and owning McSwiggans bar on Eyre Street.

Padraic and Martin McHale, who own McHale Engineering farm machinery company in Mayo, are at No 145 with €75m. Padraic lives in Clonbur with his wife, and the two recently bought the former Connacht Laundry site in the ‘West’ area of the city to be redeveloped into a hotel.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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