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‘Homeless’ families turfed out of hotels for Races

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Some city families are allegedly being be ‘turfed out’ of their temporary hotel room homes this week to free up capacity for the lucrative Race Week market.

It is understood up to 22 homeless families living in emergency accommodation in city B&Bs, hotels, hostels and holiday units will be ‘moved out’ this week as race-goers take priority.

The homeless in hotels, in particular, are being forced to leave because the hotels have been pre-booked months in advance due to soaring demand during the city’s busiest time of year, Galway Race Week. This is the latest twist in the ongoing housing crisis that continues to worsen in Galway.

Galway City councillor, Mike Cubbard says the situation is a disgrace.

“These families have nowhere to go. Some of them haven’t a clue where they will go. I know one mother with six children who has to leave a hotel – she’s been told to go live with her family out the country. I know several people in this position.

“The homeless people who are living temporarily in B&Bs, hotels and hostels were on the RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme) but the landlords pulled out and either left the scheme, sold up or moved back in themselves. They are in the temporary accommodation like hotels while they wait to get into two houses the Council has for people who are waiting to get a permanent Council house.

“But there’s only two – you could have 10 of them at least. And it’s like a conveyor belt. The problem is there are not enough houses. We need more houses,” said Cllr Cubbard.

The City Council pays for people’s hotel rooms as emergency accommodation and it is reimbursed by Government. Cllr Cubbard says the money would be better spent by bringing the scores of vacant Council houses back into use.

Meanwhile, Independent City Councillor Catherine Connolly has new figures, which confirm the housing crisis is real and worsening. There are some 4,474 households on the city’s housing waiting list, which equates to around 15,000 people. Some applicants for house on the list are waiting as long as 15 years for two-beds; and yet Galway City Council has plans to build just 13 houses over the next year, said Cllr Connolly. The waiting list figures do not include the 472 households who are on a Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or the 117 households on Long-Term Leasing.

These two schemes will be replaced by HAP (Housing Assistance Payments) later this year, a policy, according to Cllr Connolly that “copper fastens reliance on the private sector” to provide housing.

Cllr Connolly said it is the, “most fundamental shift in social housing policy since the foundation of the state”.

“This HAP scheme will mean that as a matter of housing policy any tenant renting a private house and receiving this payment will be considered adequately housed and their name removed from the housing waiting list. In reality what has happened is that with simply a stroke of a pen, without any discussion and under the pretence and illusion of providing social housing, a housing applicant’s right to a local authority house has been removed,” she said.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors

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Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre

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An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis

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Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

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

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