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Connacht Tribune

Galway still sits on top of multinationals’ wishlists

Enda Cunningham

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Galway continues to be the preferred base for global companies investing in Ireland because it meets their ‘rigorous criteria’, according to IDA Ireland.

And with Galway’s reputation as the ‘location of choice’ for such companies being boosted over the past year, the IDA is optimistic that further Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be attracted in 2019.

New arrivals to Galway and existing companies undergoing expansion here saw the announcement of 775 new jobs in 2018.

And a further positivity indicator is that Government figures show there were a total of 42 IDA-sponsored site visits to County Galway by potential investors up to the end of September 2018 (which is the most up-to-date figure available).

The counties with more site visits were Dublin (209 for the same period) and Cork at 45. The next highest numbers of visits on the list were Limerick at 25 and Westmeath at 18.

The IDA’s Regional Business Development Manager for the West Region, Catherina Blewitt, said: “It’s been an extremely positive year again for Galway, and particularly Galway City, in terms of FDI.

“Galway’s reputation as a location of choice for global companies grew in 2018 with the arrival of companies like Genesys, Quidel and SOTI Inc and expansions announced by established companies Wayfair, MathWorks and Mazars.

“Galway has delivered expansions and also announced new investment this year.

“It’s proof that new companies continue to see Galway as an excellent location while it’s a vote of confidence and commitment to Galway and testament to the success of their operations here from established companies.

“We have shown that we can meet the rigorous criteria required by global companies seeking to invest in Ireland; we have the skilled workers, connectivity, excellent third-level institutes and the required level of infrastructure and services they look to for a pipeline of skills, coupled with a robust and supportive business culture.

“Our collaboration with other stakeholders continued in 2018, we supported the development of new infrastructure such as the N6 Galway Ring Road, developments like the Bonham Quay project and other planned commercial developments currently in the planning process such as those proposed for Ballybane and Mervue.

“We also supported projects for Galway that received funding under the Rural and Urban Regeneration funding announced recently; the Portershed, Nuns Island, Sandy Road and infrastructure upgrades on the east of the city.

“For our part, in providing the necessary property solutions to attract investment, we have recently completed construction of a new Advance Office Building of 45,000 square foot in Parkmore, delivered through the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model.

“Planning permission for an Advance Building Solution in Parkmore, was recently secured from Galway County Council and is currently going through the tender process. IDA also works closely with the private sector to secure the provision of appropriate and cost-effective solutions suitable for FDI clients. We look forward to continuing our progress in 2019,” said Ms Blewitt.

Silicon Valley tech firm Genesys announced in November that it would create 200 new technology jobs in Galway over three years, making it one of the largest artificial intelligence development centres in Ireland.

Ms Blewitt said: “In October, the mobile and ‘Internet of Things’ device management solutions company SOTI Inc. reinforced its commitment to growing its Ireland operations as a European tech hub with the announcement of its new Galway office. Fifty new jobs are being created immediately with a further 100 to be created over the next three years.

“The Quidel Corporation, a provider of rapid diagnostic testing solutions and molecular diagnostic systems, announced plans in February to set up operations in Galway, creating 75 jobs over five years. It’s the company’s first expansion into international facilities. In June the company officially opened its new Business Service Centre.”

She said that growth in existing companies came from online home furnishings retailer Wayfair; MathWorks, a developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists and in the audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars.

“Supporting our existing companies to grow and develop is a key focus for us. Wayfair celebrated the 10th anniversary of its multi-lingual European Operations Centre in Galway with news that it is to expand its workforce across the country through the launch of a virtual 200 strong workforce.

“MathWorks, which established a shared sales and services centre in Galway in 2016 announced in recent days that it is to hire an additional 70 people.

“Mazars officially opened its new Galway office and announced its intention to create up to 30 new jobs over a three-year period, doubling the office headcount,” she said,

Ms Blewitt also pointed to other success stories in Galway which are supported by IDA Ireland.

“One great example is Thermo King Ingersoll Rand, who manufacture refrigeration and heating units for the transport sector. They employ 680 people. They recently invested €50m in an expansion of their plant to increase capacity and, as a result, are currently recruiting for 50 new engineering roles. “They are a really innovative company and are leading the way in technology and robotics, growing their automation skills at the plant.”

Elsewhere in the county, she said, “our client base has performed well in terms of their operational sustainability, job retention and we continue to work closely with them, supporting them in their transformation and development”.

Connacht Tribune

Level 5 ‘lockdown’ restrictions from midnight Wednesday

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has decided that as of midnight on Wednesday, all of Ireland will be placed on Level ‘lockdown’ restrictions.

This action is based on current public health advice, the deteriorating situation with the disease across the country and the Government’s objectives to support families by keeping schools and childcare facilities open, maintaining non-Covid health services and protecting the vulnerable.

Level 5 restrictions will remain in place for a period of 6 weeks.

Given the difficulties that these restrictions place on individuals and families across the State, the risk of job losses and of poverty and homelessness, the Government has agreed that the moratorium on evictions be reinstated and that Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme be amended to reflect these challenges.

Placing the country at Level 5 Restrictions will have the following implications:

  • people are asked to stay at home. People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which their physical presence is required (see below for essential services)
  • people will be permitted to exercise within a radius of 5 km of their home
  • there will be a penalty for movement outside 5km of home, with exemptions to this for essential work and essential purposes
  • in line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, schools, early learning and childcare services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential
  • in addition, in recognition of the impact on children and young people of restrictions, non-contact training can continue for school aged children, outdoors in pods of 15. All other training activities should be individual only, with some exemptions, see below
  • there should be no visits to other people’s homes or gardens
  • however, there will be the concept of an extended household (or support bubble) for defined categories of individuals to support those at risk of social isolation and/or mental ill-health (see notes to editors).
  • no social/family gatherings should take place, with the exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).

It is possible to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise

  • there should be no organised indoor or outdoor events.
  • essential retail and essential services will remain open (see below).
  • public transport will operate at 25% capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work [School transport unaffected].
  • in line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing can continue behind closed doors.
  • bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services.
  • those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement. It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced. When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home. It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
  • religious services will be available online
  • museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will remain closed
  • libraries will be available for online services only.
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks will remain open with protective measures.
  • visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances

Essential purposes for travel (permitted outside 5k limit):

  • travel to and from work, where work involves providing an essential service (see below)
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular for those who live alone, as part of an extended household but excluding social family visits
  • to attend a wedding or funeral
  • for farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals
  • to visit a grave

Exemptions for weddings (irrespective of venue): Up to 25 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

Exemption for funerals: Up to 10 mourners.

Sports/Training/Matches

No training or matches should take place, with the exception of professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing, which are being permitted to continue behind closed doors.

Extended Household Concept

In order to support those who risk isolation, such as single adult households and those who have shared parenting or shared custody arrangements; those living alone who have mental health challenges, or those living with partner with dementia for example, it will be possible for those in such circumstances to nominate one other household with whom they can mix. This will allow for social support beyond the caring exemptions already available.

Amendments to PUP and EWSS

We know the move to Level 5 will have a significant impact on businesses – we know many people will temporarily lose their jobs on Thursday

As a result of the fact that businesses have to close we are making changes to the PUP and the EWSS

The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows, with the rate of €350 restored to those who were earning in excess of €400 per week:

Prior Weekly Earnings (Gross)PUP Payment
less than €200€203
€200 – €299.99€250
€300 – €399.99€300
more than €400€350

This change to payment rates will apply for payments issued from Tuesday 27th October (PUP is paid weekly on a Tuesday) in respect of all existing and new applicants.

The EWSS is also being amended to align with the amendment to PUP. This means here will be 5 payment rates/bands as follows:

  • 0 – €151 = €0
  • >€151 < €203 = €203
  • >€203 < €300 = €250
  • >€300 < €400 = €300
  • >€400< €1,462 = €350

The main aim of this scheme is to ensure where possible employees retain their link with their employer rather than become unemployed. This revised scheme will run to end January 2021.

Essential retail outlets:

Retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas.

  • outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet.
  • markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale.
  • outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods in a specialised outlet, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • fuel service stations and heating fuel providers
  • outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • laundries and drycleaners
  • banks, post offices and credit unions
  • outlets selling safety supplies (including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide, whether on a retail or wholesale basis –

– hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development,

– sanitation and farm equipment, or

– supplies and tools essential for farming or agriculture purposes.

-outlets providing for the repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles and any related facilities (including tyre sales and repairs).

  • the following outlets, insofar as they offer services on an emergency basis only:

-optician and optometrist outlets

-outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances

-outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for relevant persons working from their respective places of residence, whether on a retail or wholesale basis

-outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services for places of residence and businesses.

  • any other retail outlet that operates an online or other remote system of ordering goods for purposes of collection at the retail outlet
  • outlets selling food or beverages whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet:

-insofar as they sell food or beverages on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises,

-insofar as they are staff canteens operating for the exclusive use of persons working in, or at, a particular premises, or

– hotels or similar accommodation services insofar as they sell food or beverages for consumption on the premises by residents of the service.

See the list of Essential Services HERE

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Connacht Tribune

Armed Garda unit involved in five-hour stand-off

Francis Farragher

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A siege-type situation that developed at a house in Connemara was brought to a peaceful conclusion by Gardaí after a five-hour stand-off.

The Connacht Tribune understands that the Gardaí had been trying to execute a bench warrant in relation to the arrest of a woman in her 30s.

However, when Gardaí called to a house at Bealadangan near Leitir Mór at around 9pm on the Wednesday night of last week – where they had established the woman was located – they failed to gain entry despite repeated requests.

Gardaí were concerned that the woman may have been armed, leading to the call-out of the Garda Armed Support Unit.

The stand-off is understood to have lasted for about five hours but came to a conclusion at around 2am on the morning of October 15, when a specialist Garda unit forced their way into the house – the woman, who was alone in the house, was then arrested by the Gardaí.

Inspector Peter Conlon, confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that a stand-off situation that had developed in the Bealadangan area had been brought to a peaceful conclusion.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

77-year-old Peadar in training for his 41st Dublin City Marathon

Francis Farragher

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Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next.

The show must go on – even if it’s the Dublin City Marathon, you’re 77-years old, and you have to fast-walk the event on the roads surrounding the fields of Athenry.

Peadar Nugent from Moyvilla, Derrydonnell, does intend to retire from the marathon circuit. But not just yet. He’s planning to hold on for another three years, until he reaches his 80th birthday.

Not for one moment did Peadar have any doubts over participating in his 41st successive Dublin City Marathon, once he knew for definite that the event was going ahead – in virtual format.

The virtual bit means that the marathon field will run their 26 miles and 285 yards in their home areas all across Ireland and be satellite tracked on their mobile phone or Garmin devices.

Despite shoulder, hip and knee surgeries down through the years, Peadar is one of an elite group of 13 athletes who has managed to complete all 40 of the Dublin City Marathons.

Those surgeries and an osteoarthritis diagnosis haven’t diminished Peadar’s enthusiasm for the road by one whit – although he has heeded the surgeon’s advice to walk, rather than run the event, over recent years.

“In previous years, I’ve come in around the five hours and 20 or so minutes mark (roughly 12 minutes a mile) but that’s with a big crowd around and the atmosphere of the occasion.

“This year [the October Bank Holiday Weekend], I’ll be walking it around my own area along with fellow Athenry club member, Máire Treasa Beatty, and I’m hoping to come in at six hours – or maybe just a bit under,” Peadar told the Connacht Tribune this week.

Needless to say, Peadar lives a healthy life. He never drank nor smoked and has hardly ever missed a morning in his life without his usual breakfast – a big bowl of porridge.

“Even on marathon days, my diet has never changed. The bowl of porridge is the perfect food for the marathon – you’re not too full and yet it sustains you.

“During the races themselves, it’s just a case of regular water intakes and about half-way through, one banana. The banana is easy to absorb and it helps to replenish the sugar levels,” said Peadar.

(Photo: Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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