Homelessness in the West of Ireland is increasing at a rate faster than anywhere else in the country – and without a significant increase in the number of social housing units, things are going to get far worse in 2019.
That’s according to CEO of Galway Simon, Karen Golden, who warned that the problem could get a lot worse before it gets better.
“The rate of increase in the West of Ireland, and the majority of that is in Galway City, is faster than any other region; there were 36 families in emergency accommodation in June 2014 – there were 499 in June 2018.
“We have a significant, increasing and sustained demand for our services. I don’t think anybody saw it getting that back, that quickly,” said Ms Golden.
The number of social houses built in Galway City this year came nowhere near making a dent in these soaring figures and this is a situation unlikely to improve in 2019.
“In quarter three of 2018, 4,700 houses were completed nationally; only 18 of those were in Galway.
“That is a negligible contribution to the issue and unfortunately, I don’t see it improving. There is virtually no social housing coming on stream, and I don’t see it coming next year either,” said Ms Golden.
Social housing is vital for the people availing of Galway Simon’s services, she says, and without it, demand will continue to far outstrip supply.
The charity has now reached a point where housing that was once used for people in emergency situations for a couple of days has to be used for people on a long-term basis.
“At its simplest, we would provide a housing service where we have a number of people living in Galway Simon houses.
“That would normally be used on a transitional basis where people would stay there in emergency circumstances but that is becoming increasingly more difficult because alternatives are not available,” explained Ms Golden.
In fact, rising rents mean that when someone is served with a notice to quit from their landlord, they are at serious risk of not being able to find alternative accommodation due to ever-rising rents.
“Rents in Galway City have gone up by 41 per cent over the past three years.
“It is said that the services are ‘silting up’ which is a really awful phrase that has come into use, but it does illustrate the situation.
“People are coming into emergency accommodation for a couple of nights, a couple of weeks at most, but they are ending up there for months on end,” said Ms Golden.
An overreliance on the private sector to provide social housing is exacerbating the problem and Ms Golden said the Government’s Housing Assistance Programme (HAP) was simply not working.
“We need to see more accommodation coming on stream and more quickly. There is very little in place in the short term for Galway – we need more of a focus on that.
“We would like to see the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) having greater powers to enforce the rent pressure zone in Galway City.
“We have a four per cent cap on rent increases yet they have gone up by 16 per cent in the past year – four times that rate,” said Ms Golden.
Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions
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.
Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings
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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Biden is a Maree man!
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