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CITY TRIBUNE

Housing agencies accused of paying ‘astronomical money’

Denise McNamara

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The amount paid for four homes being purchased by housing bodies through loans raised by Galway City Council was excessive, according to some councillors.

A one-bed unit on Doughiska Road had a purchase price of €143,000 and needed a €6,000 refurbishment. The same size apartment on the Western Distributor Road was priced at €144,000 and got an €8,000 overhaul.

For a three-bed house in Doughiska the sellers were to receive €255,000 with a further €3,500 needed for a makeover, while on the Ballymoneen Road in Knocknacarra €335,000 was paid for a four-bed house.

The properties were purchased by Clúid Housing Association, Cope Galway and the Galway Simon Community and will be used to house people who need sheltered accommodation or have particular housing needs. One of them will be used to accommodate homeless families.

The people who to be housed in the four properties are nominated from Galway City Council’s waiting list for social housing, the Director of Services for Housing, Human Resources and ICT, Patricia Philbin has confirmed.

Cllr Mark Lohan (SF) was first to raise the issue at a City Council meeting of the prices paid for the properties, claiming they were well above market rates.

The “logic of buying houses on the open market and paying astronomical money for them” was taken up by Cllr Frank Fahy (FG), who said a similarly-sized home in the same estate in Knocknacarra had sold for €240,000 at the end of 2016.

Fianna Fáil’s Ollie Crowe asked about the criteria used by the housing bodies to pick tenants.

“We have people living in Council houses with criminal records  causing huge problems for other residents. Who monitors it? It’s very, very unfair on neighbouring residents.”

It was the legal costs and the amounts spent on refurbishment that perturbed Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) who asked if it was “animals or human” living in the properties.

Cllr Cathal O’Conchúir (SF) said he had been dealing with an estate in Knocknacarra where one family out of 80 had engaged in extreme criminal behaviour and made life a misery for all others. He queried whether those with criminal records would go to the bottom of the waiting list as councillors had previously been assured.

Ms Philbin said the Council was currently compiling a strategy to deal with antisocial behaviour.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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