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Connacht Tribune

IBRC windfall marks last chapter for local housing estates

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The entity born out of the country’s two bad banks during the financial crash is finally doing some good in Galway – providing funding for the taking-in-charge of 17 housing estates.

The IBRC (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation), which came about as a result of the merger of failed Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, is transferring some €1.126 million to Galway County Council this month.

The funding is for the taking in charge of 17 estates in County Galway, and it will be included in the Council’s programme of works for the remainder of this year and 2019.

The windfall was revealed in a memo to County Councillors, giving an overview of the local authority’s work in taking in charge estates in County Galway.

So far this year, eight estates have been taken in charge by Galway County Council including Árd Aoibhinn in Monivea, An Mhainistir in Claregalway, Árd Breeda in Loughrea, Cedar Avenue and Forest Glade in Portumna, Carraigweir in Tuam, Cedar Court in Williamstown, and Millbrook in Milltown.

A further eight estates are due to be taken in charge before the end of the year including Owenriff in Oughterard, the Paddocks in Killimor, and Oak Glen and Slí Esker in Ballinasloe.

Hilltop Close and Elm Court in Tuam are due to be taken in charge this year, as is Cobble Drive, Loughrea, the County Council report said.

Taking in charge is the term given to the assumption that the Council assumes responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of public services and infrastructure.

To date this year, more than 35 estates have received some level of funding from the Council, which allocated €100,000 to taking in charge estates this year.

“The monies received through the Council budget allocation is an invaluable source of income for historical estates, of which there are many, where there is little of no bond monies available to bring estates across all five municipal districts,” the report said.

There are currently 34 developments in the process of being brought to taking in charge standard with works being funded through Bond monies.

The taking in charge section of the Council engages with Bond holders and with developers to ensure the estates are completed to the required standard “for the benefit of all, especially the residents.”

Staffing changes at the Council have impacted on the taking in charge of estates, the County Council has conceded.

“The Taking in Charge section is a small unit working on a large number of estates across the county. Staff changes have taken place in the last year, including a full change of technical staff within the section. These changes in personnel impact on delivery and the taking in charge of estates but every effort is made to ensure that impact on delivery is minimised where possible,” the report said.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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