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Gardaí need to go back to school to improve Irish proficiency

Dara Bradley

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Gardaí in Galway’s Gaeltacht should have to take language refresher courses to improve their proficiency in Irish.

The call comes as new figures suggest that just half of Gardaí stationed in Gaeltacht areas across the country have a good command of the Irish language.

The Ireland edition of The Times reported statistics that show just over 50% of all Garda members in Gaeltacht areas obtained a mark of over 60% in language proficiency tests.

The online newspaper said some 486 Gardaí in stations in Galway, Kerry and Donegal were tested. Of these, just 239 achieved a score of 60% or lower in the test; eight received a mark of 40% or less.

Just 9% or 46 Gardaí obtained a mark of 81% or higher, which indicated they are fluent.

Connemara-based Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said he is concerned about the level of fluency right across state bodies, not just Gardaí.

“The figures are not surprising. But in fairness to the Gardaí, they are probably the best organisation in the State for the Irish language,” he said.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh added: “There was a ruling some years ago in Donegal, and since then Gardaí have moved to recruit people with Irish and to provide language classes to those stationed in Gaeltacht areas.

“There is a crisis in the rest of the civil and public service. For example, when teaching staff are excluded, just three per cent of the staff in the Department of Education have proficiency in the Irish language. That is an absolute indictment of Government policy. Especially when you have 20 year plans and strategy, and yet the department where you would expect Irish to be spoken, is failing to such an extent.

“I have been informed that there are difficulties with prosecutions in Derrynea Court in Casla, not because of the judge or solicitors, but because Gardaí do not have sufficient Irish to prosecute cases in the Irish language. That is worrying.

“Gardaí could do with more personnel who can speak Irish but they are the best of a bad lot in terms of the civil and public service,” said Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

He called for the return of Gaeleagras, a Gaeltacht-based Irish language training programme for civil and public servants, which was scrapped some years ago.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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