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Insecurity of emergency accommodation ‘grinding children down’

Stephen Corrigan



School principal Michael Gallagher: "Children in Direct Provision want to do well and their parents want them to do well."

Living in emergency accommodation or Direct Provision – or even being forced to move frequently due to a volatile rental market – has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of children in primary school, according to a local school principal.

Principal of Claddagh National School Michael Gallagher said while children were resilient and adapt as best they can to tough situations, they did at times fall victim to feelings of anxiety due to the insecurity of their home situation.

According to Mr Gallagher, while a number of families with children in the school were living in emergency accommodation, teachers would have significantly greater experience with children staying at the Eglinton Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Salthill.

“We have a lot of children from Direct Provision and while it wasn’t scientific, we did have a situation where a number of the teachers took notes of the behaviour and attitudes of the children and what we found was they generally get on well in school – they want to do well and their parents want them to do well.

“If they are in Direct Provision long-term, it really affects the mood of the children. There’s no scientific or empirical evidence, but our experience is that it wears them down in a sense – they become resigned to their fate,” said Mr Gallagher.

In situations where families are in emergency accommodation, the school had less experience – Mr Gallagher estimated three families out of 270 that he was aware of in the past couple of years.

“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more in emergency accommodation – in some cases, families don’t necessarily tell the school,” he adds.

“We would also have had a number of families who get a letter from the landlord to leave their home, or that the rent is going up and they can’t afford it, and so they have to move.

“It has an impact – the uncertainty has a massive impact. The insecurity of not having a family home is huge, something so many of us take for granted,” continued Mr Gallagher.

While children adapt and can be resilient, not having a place to call home or being in Direct Provision meant students could find it difficult to do their homework and in some cases, coloured the way they responded to situations.

Teachers were very cognisant of students’ individual circumstances and made every effort to take into account the challenges they might be facing, continued Mr Gallagher.

“Getting homework done or getting reading done could be the least of their worries – if they have to move from where they are staying in the afternoon, it could simply be the case that they just don’t have time.

“Other problems arise like getting the right books organised, or having stuff to bring in for a project,” he outlined.

“You have children with anxiety issues caused by having worries that other children might not have; these are all generalisations, but they might act out a bit in class, or get a bit excited over something that might be perceived as a trivial issue.”

Claddagh NS also had experience of families being forced to leave Galway for more rural areas because of rising rents in the city.

“We have had a couple of families living in Galway and the Rent Allowance won’t cover the rent – say for example, a three-bed in Knocknacarra. Or they got a letter saying the landlord is selling up and they had to move out.

“A lot of families have moved to Tuam, Athenry and Loughrea where the rent is somewhat more affordable,” he said.

For those families who leave Direct Provision, additional supports were needed because, even with all its imperfections, the system did offer some support structure, said Mr Gallagher.

“When they move out, they can’t afford any rental property in Galway. And even if they do, they find themselves in a two-bedroom apartment and they can’t afford babysitting – that’s very difficult for maybe a single mother who has to work,” he said.

Mr Gallagher said ultimately, all children deserved the best start in life and it was at primary school that they were most open to diversity.

“Kids are kids – no matter what their social status, children behave like children. We have 39 different nationalities and kids don’t see religion or race. It doesn’t bother them; all they’re worried about is who is going to pass them the ball.

“We celebrate diversity and at primary school, there are very few incidences of bullying based on that,” he said.


Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara



Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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