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CITY TRIBUNE

Coronavirus: hospitality sector fears ‘devastating blow’

Stephen Corrigan

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A day when most Irish people go 'just a little bit mad'.

The hospitality industry in Galway is fearing a devastating blow if St Patrick’s Day celebrations are curbed or cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

A Galway publican told the Galway City Tribune that there was huge concern that major events will have to be called off if the virus spreads any further – with nine cases already confirmed on the island of Ireland.

The owner of the Kings Head, Paul Grealish, said while there was huge concern in the hospitality sector over the virus’ spread in Europe, there was a sense of helplessness as businesses could do nothing to stop it.

“Businesses such as ours are very concerned about it, but there’s very little we can do. If it spreads, we’ll all be affected. We’re taking a philosophical view of this because it is totally out of our control.

“I’ve been meeting with staff and advising them – we’re taking our advice from the HSE, the Restaurants Association and the VFI, reinforcing the importance of washing hands, and taking due care and attention,” said Mr Grealish.

What would be hugely concerning, he said, was if the St Patrick’s Day festivities had to be cancelled in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19, with March 17 usually marking the beginning of the main tourist season in Galway.

“It would be a big concern if the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin and Galway was cancelled. That would be a very poor start to the season.

“If they were to start cancelling more inward flights, that would be disastrous,” he said of the news this week that Ryanair had cancelled one-quarter of their flights to and from Italy between March 17 and April 8.

Mr Grealish said that the cancellation of major events such as the St Patrick’s Day celebrations would have long-lasting effects.

“You would be concerned that if they were cancelled or downgraded, we might have knock-on effects in May, June and July,” he explained.

American tourists, who are crucial to the success of the hospitality industry in Galway, were traditionally nervous about travelling outside the US, and the cancellation of events was likely to further dissuade them from crossing the Atlantic, he said.

While the spread of Coronavirus could result in more Irish holidaymakers choosing to stay at home this summer, it was unlikely to entirely offset the potential impact of a reduction in the numbers coming from overseas.

With a likely increase in the number of cases of the virus in Ireland, it was reasonable to assume that there would be additional people having to take time off work to either recover, or to self-isolate, and this would impact on the wider economy, added Mr Grealish.

“You might have a situation where people can’t go to work because of the Coronavirus, or they might have no work to go to. That will affect their ability to spend money,” he said, adding that fears of an economic decline could have a significant impact on consumer confidence.

Meanwhile, Galway 2020 have moved to allay fears that any of their events will have to be cancelled in the immediate future as a result of the virus.

“Galway 2020 is aware of the ever-evolving situation regarding the Coronavirus.  At present, no upcoming Galway 2020 events or participants are impacted. We are engaging with the relevant authorities and will continue to monitor the situation and proceed as advised in the interests of public health,” a spokesperson stated.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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