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Homeless family forced to sleep in garden shed

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A Galway TD has highlighted two cases to underline the county’s housing crisis – one couple forced to sleep in a garden shed while another lived in their parked car on the street.

Galway East TD Colm Keaveney said he’d dealt with both cases in recent weeks which he described as ‘a disgrace to our society’.

“Both cases involved families with children. In both cases the children have been left sleeping on the couches and floors of relatives’ houses while the parents sleep where they can. For one couple that means a car parked on the street; for the other it means sleeping in a garden shed,” he said.

His demand for action on a national basis comes as Councils across the country struggle to deal with the problem.

Galway county needs to deliver at least 500 social housing units by 2021 – but Council officials have already admitted that current funding levels will see that fall short by around twelve per cent.

The current local authority housing stock in Co Galway – excluding the city – stands at 2,316; that’s down from 2,366 from 2011.

At present ten of those units are derelict and 72 are in need of refurbishment – but according to Galway East TD Colm Keaveney, over half of all units, 47 in total, in need of refurbishment are in the Tuam area alone.

He has called on the government to prioritise housing in Budget 2016, insisting that the crisis needs a national solution to avoid the burden falling on local authorities alone.

“Local authorities around the country are struggling to deal with the wave of homelessness that is sweeping the country,” he said.

There are over 4,000 applications on the housing list. Many of those applications are from families and couples, so the numbers of people affected by the search for a secure and stable home far exceeds the number of applications.

“That 47 housing units are in need of refurbishment in the Tuam area should not be taken as a criticism of the county council. I know from working with officials to address individual cases of homelessness that they are doing their best within highly constrained budgets.

“The government parties simply have to admit to the scale of the housing crisis in Ireland and provide monies towards refurbishing housing units and building new ones,” he added.

Figures released to Fianna Fáil under an FOI request show that numbers on the housing list nationally is almost one and a half times as great as had been previously admitted by the government parties.

The party claimed that the social housing waiting list now at 130,000 – not the 90,000 figure from 2013 that government policy is based on. The figures have been disputed by the Government parties.

But Deputy Keaveney said that his experience on the ground indicated that the situation is now reaching ‘crisis levels’

“Galway County Council and its officials are doing all that they can to address the housing crisis but are struggling in the face of a raising demand for services and the refusal of central government, and in particular Minister Alan Kelly, to provide adequate funding to Galway and other local authorities to enable them to address the deteriorating housing situation.

“Budget 2016 is approaching. It is being framed as an election budget and it appears that Fine Gael and Labour are going to prioritise tax cuts over public services. While many would welcome a cut in taxes, it must be remembered that the small cut received will be paid for by the further degradation of public services, in health, education, and in housing.

“If neglected for much longer, the housing crisis will turn into a social crisis, one that will take a generation to solve and even longer to heal,” he added.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
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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