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CITY TRIBUNE

Is Noel Grealish a racist? On a scale of one to 10

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Is Noel Grealish a racist? On a scale of one to 10, like. One being not racist at all, and 10 rabidly racist. Certainly, his comments were racist.

At a meeting in Oughterard last week, the Independent Galway West TD, described Christian refugees fleeing Syria, as “genuine”; but African asylum seekers (and for African, we read ‘black’) were “economic migrants” who come to Ireland to “sponge” off the system.

The ones earmarked for the Connemara Gateway Hotel (which it has not yet been officially confirmed will be turned into a Direct Provision centre), would be the latter, opined the former Progressive Democrat.

The remarks were nasty, and hurtful to Africans living here and people in Oughterard and asylum seekers, many of whom, as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pointed out, are “fleeing war and fleeing persecution” and it is right that we, as a country, should take some people in.

Almost everybody – bar the mandarins in the Department of Justice, who are tasked with finding Direct Provision (DP) centres – is opposed to Oughterard as a base to house asylum seekers.

Leaving aside the arguments against Direct Provision as a system, even if you were fully supportive of DP, you couldn’t argue that Oughterard was an appropriate place for up to 300 asylum seekers. It just couldn’t cope and it would be wrong for both those seeking refuge, and locals.

Part of the reason why refugees are fleeing here is because we’re a stable democracy, where freedom of speech is sacrosanct and we value people’s right to express opinions. But we can recognise Noel Grealish’s right to say something, while rejecting completely what he said as racist.

Noel’s comments were wrong, too, because they stoked the flames of an already tense situation, and as a public representative, his language should have been more measured.

Even if it were true that some of those coming here are economic migrants; so what? Irish people have been emigrating for economic reasons for donkeys’ years. Noel himself has family in the US; he knows many undocumented Irish living abroad, those forced overseas because the country was broke – and broken. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Pensioners, school students, and local community groups know ‘Noeleen’ as the sound lad who buys them lunch during tours of Dáil Éireann. Carnmore hurlers know him as the sound lad who gets the pints in the local after championship games. His Oireachtas colleagues know him as the sound lad who’s handy on the golf course. Constituents, and those who work with him, know he’s a sound TD who gets things done; little things like filling out social welfare forms. It’s what gets him elected.

What ‘Noeleen’ said about African economic migrants being spongers was far from sound. It was ugly, and disappointing. And now the mask has slipped, everybody in the country knows him as the man at the centre of a racism storm in a small, picturesque town in Connemara.

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Voluntary group has taken part in 30 rescues

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Members of Claddagh Watch, Donna Burke, Annmarie Heffernan, Arthur Carr, Jimmy McGovern, Eimear Gullane and Trish Keogh on their first night on patrol in March.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Looking out over the River Corrib on a cold clear November night has a touch of the majestic about it.

Tourists and locals alike are spellbound by its mesmerising rapids and the pulsating surges which characterise this wonderful city river.

However, a group of volunteers at Claddagh watch over the glistening waters at night for an entirely different reason – not to marvel at its beauty but to keep a much-needed eye over people’s safety in the Corrib’s surrounds.

Just over eight months after its inception, Claddagh Watch is going from strength to strength. Starting out as a three-man crew in Spring, the organisation now has a 60-person team of volunteers dedicated to keeping people out of danger around Europe’s fourth fastest-flowing city river.

The group was formed by husband-and-wife team Arthur and Deborah Carr from Galway East Life Support Suicide prevention group, along with a former member of the Irish Coast Guard Séamus Ó Fátharta, following a series of deaths along Galway waterways early in the year.

“Claddagh Watch came to fruition from three ordinary people seeing the number of people losing their lives on the waterways and realising that a simple initiative could help reduce this,” explains Séamus of the motivation behind the group.

Since March, the organisation has taken part in almost 30 rescues, aimed at preventing people entering the water. Volunteers never enter the water themselves, even in emergency situations but are instead on hand to notify and provide vital information to rescue services as soon as an incident occurs.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Rents and rise in costs driving students to seek counselling

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A painful rental market and increasing costs being loaded onto third level students are all contributing to increasing demand on student counselling services, according to Galway’s student leader.

President of NUI Galway Students’ Union, Clare Austick, said additional funding must be allocated to student counselling services at NUI Galway to ensure students in need of help are not turned away.

This comes after it was revealed that there had been a 21% jump in the number of students at the university seeking the support of the counselling service over the past four years.

Ms Austick said the Union of Students in Ireland, in conjunction with national mental health bodies, had run several campaigns in recent years to encourage an uptake of mental wellbeing supports on offer – but it was vital that these supports were accessible if students did take that initial step of seeking help.

“Encouraging people to reach out has resulted in an influx of people looking for counselling services and I think people are now more willing to ask for help.

“When someone finally builds up the courage to reach out for help and they’re turned away, it’s very discouraging and it might not encourage them to do it again,” said Ms Austick.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council boosts spend on homelessness

Denise McNamara

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A homeless man sleeping in the city centre.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A record €12 million boost to the coffers has meant that Galway City Council’s budget will reach nearly €100 million for next year – with the bulk of the increased spending targeting homelessness and housing.

A third of the overall budget has been ringfenced for accommodation for the homeless and local authority tenants costing over €33m; with a €4.3m increase on last year to provide homeless services (to €10.7m).

An additional fund of €200,000 will be used to turn around the 44 vacant Council properties to ensure the local authority has no more than 10 properties ‘void’ at a time – a figure which other councils have managed to achieve.

One fifth of the budget will be earmarked for recreation and amenity, of which €2.8m will be used to roll out the European Capital of Culture programme and a quarter of a million euro set aside to resurface tennis and basketball courts around the suburbs.

The roads and transport sector takes up 15% of the yearly spend at €14.5m – more traffic lights will be connected to the Urban Traffic Control Centre, set to get an upgrade costing €100,000.

The cost of providing environmental services is €12m – or 12% of the funding pot – out of which €90,000 will be aimed at implementing a climate change plan.

Acting Head of Finance, Nepta Moggan, told a budget meeting this week that while there was no increase in the rate to be levied on businesses for commercial rates or householders liable for the Local Property Tax, the Council had an €800,000 bonus from increased and new valuations of commercial premises.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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