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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

US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots

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Galway roots...Pat Connaughton.

An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.

The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”

One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.

“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.

“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”

Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.

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

Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists

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Ireland rowers (from left) Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Eimear Lambe from Dublin, Fiona Murtagh from Moycullen and Emily Hegarty from Cork celebrate on the podium with their Olympic bronze medals after the Women's Four final at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’

At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.

It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.

Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.

As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.

It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.

Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.

Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’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

Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star

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Cillín Greene's parents Sinead and Cole and sisters Iarlaith (left) and Miriam above the Olympic flag on the Nine Arches in Claregalway. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.

On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.

He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.

Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.

“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.

“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.

Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.

But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.

The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.

See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – 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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