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Connacht Tribune

Homeless charity wants crackdown on Airbnb

Denise McNamara

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A local homeless charity has called for a tightening of the regulations around Airbnb with over 2,000 Galway homes being let to visitors – half of them entire homes and over a third on a full-time basis according to an analysis of listings.

Cope Galway said it firmly believed that Airbnb – the giant online service allowing people to lease or rent short-term lodging – was contributing to the homelessness crisis.

In the same week that just 118 homes in all of Galway were advertised for rent on the website daft.ie, there were a total of 2,212 active Airbnb rentals across Galway City and County.

Of these, 52% were the full properties and 38% were being let full-time, according to data collated by AirDNA, which analyses public information about Airbnb’s listings.

Cope Galway’s assistant CEO, Martin O’Connor, said the data shows the heaviest concentration of properties was in the city and in tourist hotspots such as Connemara.

“In 2017 the number of hosts renting on Airbnb started to climb massively. Anecdotally we’re hearing of blocks of apartments in the city being rented on Airbnb and people setting up a business,” he remarked.

“These are properties that were given planning permission as residential not as accommodation providers such as hotels or B&Bs which must comply with fire regulations.

“You have the ironic situation of tourists living in homes while people without homes are having to live in B&Bs and hotels.

“The introduction of measures to disincentivise the full-time use of homes for Airbnb purposes and the enforcement of planning laws already on the statute books are measures the government can take now.

“While we understand that revenue from Airbnb is an important source of income for struggling homeowners, our concern is that accommodation which is available all year round and in the form of entire homes, is accommodation taken out of the rental market.”

There were 259 people classed as homeless in Galway on the fourth week of March according to the latest available figures from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

This does not include the numbers of rough sleepers who engage with Cope Galway – currently between ten and twelve a night – or the ‘hidden homeless’ who couch-surf with friends and family.

Airbnb disputes the accuracy of the data, claiming entire home listings in Galway last year represented just 0.7% of the available housing stock.

“This report uses inaccurate scraped data to make misleading assumptions about our community. The vast majority (70%) of hosts in Ireland share the home in which they live. The Airbnb model is unique and empowers regular people and boosts local communities, generating over €506 million in economic activity in Ireland last year,” said a spokesperson.

In Galway last year, the typical host on Airbnb earned €5,100 and hosted for less than 4 nights per month – showing that it is only occasional activity

“Many individual hosts are not able to manage their own listing, for example when they are away on holiday or at work, so they ask a management company to take care of bookings on their behalf. In data scrapes, these would show as one individual with multiple listings, when in reality these listings belong to many different hosts. Similarly, a host may manage both their own listing and the listing of a neighbour or friend.

“The platform also has some licensed boutique hotels and serviced apartments listing their spaces, as the platform offers them the opportunity to reach a wider and more diverse audience than traditional offline advertisements. Many of these are listed as entire homes.”

In London, hosts cannot rent out entire homes for more than 90 days per year without official consent from their council. In Paris, registration for short-term lettings is now mandatory and must be no longer than 120 days a year; Barcelona has suspended all new short-term rental permits; Amsterdam has cut its permitted short-term lettings limit from two months a year to one; and hosts in Berlin are only permitted to rent out their property for half of the year.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is overdue in publishing a report by a departmental working group examining whether new regulations are needed for lettings websites.

An Bord Pleanála ruled in 2016 that using residential apartments for short-term lets was a “change of use” and required planning permission.

Following the ruling, the government issued guidelines to councils last year limiting apartment owners to letting their property in the short term for 60 nights in a year.

The guidelines said flat owners could not rent flats for more than five nights in a row and no more than two rooms in an apartment can be occupied each night, with a guest limit of four people a night.

Martin O’Connor said it was clear from the Galway data these guidelines were not being enforced.

“The number of properties continuously in Airbnb use shows they’re certainly not in compliance with department guidelines. For us, really, the issue is the acute shortage of accommodation here while there is an extraordinarily high number of Airbnbs.”

Connacht Tribune

Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions

Enda Cunningham

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The Taoiseach announced this evening that the country will move to Level 3 restrictions from next week, with shops, gyms, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and gastro-pubs set to reopen.

“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months. I understand that feeling. Very often I share it,” Micheál Martin said in an address to the nation.

“This cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to but it will be a very special time where we all enjoy some respite,” he said, as he announced the planned move to “Level 3, with some modifications”.

The use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

From 1 December, under Level 3, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19:

  • weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • no organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below
  • gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors
  • non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15
  • only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted
  • no matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only
  • nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed
  • hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only
  • non-essential retail and personal services may reopen
  • people should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person
  • public transport capacity is limited to 50%

From 1 December:

  • households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble
  • people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes

From 4 December:

  • restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels
  • higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online

Adjustments for the Christmas Period

From 1 December:

  • places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
  • museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
  • cinemas to reopen
  • wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery

From 18 December to 6 January:

  • households can mix with up to two other households
  • travel outside your county to be permitted

From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

The measures for cross-border travel will be the same as for travel between all other counties, that is, from 1 December, people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes while from 18 December to 6 January, travel outside the county is permitted.

It has further been agreed that the use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

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Connacht Tribune

Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings

Keith Kelly

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Enda Curran, pictured after scoring a goal for Galway United against Wexford in the season just finished, has left the club. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The comings and goings have continued at Galway United in the past week, with the club busy re-signing players fork last season, adding some new faces, as well as confirming the departure of players who were part of the 2020 squad.

Having already said goodbye to the sextet of Conor Barry, Joe Collins, Vinny Faherty, Jack Lynch, Timo Partheons, and Josh Smith, the club this week confirmed the departure of three more players: Enda Curran (89 appearances, 20 goals), Conor Melody (108 appearances, five goals), and Timmy Molloy (16 appearances, no goals).

Curran was signed for United as an 18-years-old by Sean Connor ahead of the 2011 season and made his debut in the opening game of that campaign, coming on as a substitute for the injured Neal Keane in the 43rd of a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.

He made a total of 13 appearances for United that season, and he was back with the Tribesmen for United’s return to the national league in the 2014 season, when he made eight appearances, scoring his first goal for United in the first of those games, coming off the bench to score in the 5-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers B in July.

His most productive season for United was the following year’s campaign, when he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in the Premier Division for United (he made 29 league and cup appearance in total that season), including his one and only hat-trick for the club, coming in the 5-0 win away to Bray Wanderers in April.

The following month, he had the distinction of scoring two penalties in a single game, in the 5-3 win over Bohemians.

That haul of a dozen goals saw him finish as the club’s joint top-scorer in the league that season alongside Jake Keegan, though the US striker finished as overall top scorer on 16 goals thanks to 2 goals in the FAI Cup, and two in the League Cup.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly

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US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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