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CITY TRIBUNE

GMIT expects to break even following staff cuts

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Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) will return to surplus in the next academic year, its current President has predicted.

Dr Fergal Barry said the college’s deficit will be less than €1 million in the current academic year, and further job cuts will bring the institute back into the black.

Dr Barry’s statement comes after a shock report predicted the demise of GMIT unless deep cuts – including up to 50 job losses – were implemented.

And despite his reassurances, staff at the college fear a “surplus to requirements” list is being drawn up as the college looks to cut its pay bill through redundancies if necessary.

As revealed in the Galway City Tribune last week, Michael O’Connell – a former financial controller at Limerick IT, when he was a colleague of Dr Barry – compiled a report that recommends cost reductions and income generation totalling €5 million for 2015-2020.

The report called into question the future sustainability of the institute, and warned that drastic cutbacks are necessary to arrest the perilous financial decline faced by GMIT.

It predicted the third level college’s cash reserves will dry-up completely in three years, and it “will become technically insolvent”, if corrective action is not taken.

GMIT, according to the report, made an operating loss for the past four years, and has accumulated operating deficits of €6.7 million during that time. Its reserves now stand at less than €8 million.

On current trends, “the viability and sustainability of its core operations in the longer term will be threatened”, according to the report’s author, Michael O’Connell.

He recommended a suite of measures to reduce the €40 million-plus annual payroll costs, including 50 job cuts through non-replacement of staff who retire, non-renewal of temporary contracts, and redundancies.

The remaining staff should undergo “retraining, reassignment and redeployment” to “create efficiencies” and to “absorb this reduction in capacity”.

The O’Connell report has not been ratified by GMIT’s Governing Body, but it is understood Education Minister Richard Bruton, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and officials in the Higher Education Authority believe its recommendations are necessary to save GMIT.

One Governing Body member, who did not wish to be named, said the thrust of the O’Connell report is supported.

“We cannot continue to operate by incurring losses of this size every year. If there are courses where there are only five students on them, well then that’s not sustainable. We also have a situation where there is a shortage of nurses but there is a cap on the number of students who can enrol in the nursing course at Castlebar, which is impacting on that the ability of that campus to break even,” the member said.

However, another member said there is a divergence of opinion at Governing Body level.

“The O’Connell report was not formally ratified,” the source said. “It was discussed at Governing Body level but it was not voted on and was not ratified.”

The source confirmed that a nine-point plan, drawn-up by Jim Fennel, GMIT’s financial controller, was “discussed and ratified” by the Governing Body. It is understood there is some overlap in both documents.

Another Governing Body member told the Galway City Tribune that there was a certain amount of “gamesmanship” going on, as well as politicking, between the Galway campuses and the Castlebar campus, which is under threat.

In a statement issued last Friday, Dr Barry said: “GMIT’s executive and finance function has been actively implementing many of the recommendations of an independent external report (O’Connell Report 2015) and an Action Plan approved by the Institute’s Governing Body.

“As a result, GMIT’s deficit will be less than €1m at the end of this academic year (2016/2017) and the Institute will be returning to surplus on the September 1, 2017 for the Academic Year 2017/2018.

“GMIT will be using its considerable reserves to support the implementation of its academic plan. To date planned staffing level reductions have been and continue to be achieved through non-replacement of retirements and the reassignment of staff to areas of growth,” he said.

Dr Barry pointed out that there has been an increase in demand for some course at GMIT following the CAO ‘change of mind’ deadline; and it has also introduced new courses.

Meanwhile, TUI Deputy General Secretary Dr Aidan Kenny, who has overall responsibility for third level in the trade union, visited the Galway campus and outlined to members the existence of the O’Connell report and the threat it posed to their employment terms and conditions.

The meeting heard claims that the Government and HEA have “bypassed” the Governing Body and instructed the college to implement the cuts. The meeting heard how a “surplus to requirement” list is being prepared.

TUI, as well as members in the two other staff unions, SIPTU and IMPACT, are concerned at the lack of implementation.

Last week, a motion of no confidence in the Board of GMIT was disused at Castlebar Municipal District.

There is anger in Mayo at a supposed ‘ultimatum’ to staff to transfer to Galway; there is also a sense in Mayo that Castlebar is being ‘run down’ at the expense of investment in Galway.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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