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CITY TRIBUNE

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

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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

Renters paying €12,000 more per annum in Galway City than ten years ago

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People living in private rented accommodation in Galway City are paying, on average, around €12,000 more per annum than they were a decade ago.

New research from property website Daft.ie has found that in the past year, average rents in the city have increased by 16.4% and now stand at €1,713 per month.

Meanwhile, the Dáil was told last week that the situation in the rental market in the city is “horrendous”.

According to the figures published this week, rents in the city have increased by a whopping 145% since the bottom of the market in early 2012, when they stood at an average of around €700 per month.

Nationally, the increase was 14.1% year on year, or 4.3% between June and September (the figure was 3% for Galway City).

Economist Ronan Lyons of Daft.ie said that the last ten quarterly reports from the website have recorded new all-time highs for average rents.

He said that in the past 18 months, there has been an “extraordinary collapse” in the stock available to rent in Ireland.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Select Committee on Finance last week, Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell said Sinn Féin had long been calling for tax credits, but these needed to be in tandem with a freeze on rents.

“My concern is that if the Government does not introduce a rent freeze, this measure will put further pressure on families and individuals who are struggling to pay for their accommodation. Many renters feel there is no end or hope in sight. To be perfectly honest, I have never seen the housing crisis in Galway as bad as it is now.

“Galway is the place I can best reference and there is little rental property available in Galway. There is concern that this will add to the pressure that people are already facing if a rent freeze is not also introduced,” she said.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe responded that in the Budget he had announced a €500 rent credit, specifically for those who do not receive other housing supports from the State.

“I also acknowledge that too many people are paying too much of their income in rent,” he said.

The Minister added that in Berlin, where rent freezes were imposed, the volume of new rental accommodation available had decreased, and he contended the same would happen in Ireland.

Deputy Farrell said: “Myself and the woman who works with me in my local office are at our wits’ end. Today we had a conversation about how to tell people coming to us that the council can do nothing because there are no rental properties and there is nowhere for people to go.

“That is a position that we have not seen ourselves in since I was elected. I am talking about the period since 2014. Things are getting worse.”

According to the Daft.ie report, average monthly rents for a one-bed apartment in Galway City stand at €1,142 (up 15% year on year); €1,333 for a two-bed house (up 13.7%); €1,594 for a three-bed house (up 16.2%); €1,948 for a four-bed (up 17.7%) and €1,959 for a five-bed (up 2.7%).

For the ‘rent a room’ renters, a single bedroom in the city centre is costing an average of €572 per month (up 15.1% year on year) and €617 for a double room (up 13.4%). In the suburbs, single bedrooms and renting for €533 per month (up 20.3%) and €593 for a double (up 22.5%).

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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister deploys high-level ‘rescue’ team to help University Hospital Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has deployed a high-level National Support Team to help crisis-stricken University Hospital Galway

Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operating Officer of the Saolta University Healthcare Group – which operates UHG and Merlin Park – confirmed this week that the ‘rescue’ team was in place to tackle overcrowding and delays at the Emergency Department.

Membership of the support team includes at least seven high-level HSE managers, including a hospital consultant.

The team has already met with local staff in charge of patient flow, discharges, bed management and unscheduled care. They will write up an action plan to improve the patient experience, she said.

The hospital has implemented a targeted intervention plan over the past few months to reduce the number of patients on trolleys while awaiting admission to a bed, focusing on timely diagnostics and decision making and the timely discharge of patients.

To achieve this, the hospital had been approved to recruit seven patient flow coordinators, one “data analyst for the acute floor” and one medical social worker.

Management are also in talks to increase bed capacity with the Galway Clinic and the Bon Secours private hospitals.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, and support our journalism, see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also extensive coverage this week of plans for a new cancer Centre of Excellence and the latest meeting of the Regional Health Forum West. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Shoplifting in Galway almost doubles as cost of living crisis takes hold

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The rate of shoplifting in the Galway City has skyrocketed as the cost of living crisis takes hold.

At a public meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) on Tuesday, it was revealed that the rate of theft from shops in the city had increased by 87% year-on-year.

Chief Data Analyst for the Galway Garda Division, Olivia Maher, said this was in line with a national trend.

“There is some thought that this is as a result of the cost of living crisis and the pressures that people are under as a result – we are seeing these trends at a national level,” said Ms Maher.

She said that overall, property theft had begun to return to pre-Covid levels, with 1,264 incidents in the first 10 months of 2022 – a 50% increase on the same period last year.

“Property crime is beginning to reach pre-Covid figures and while it’s up on last year, it’s down 5% on the 2019 figure.

“Burglary is still trending below pre-Covid figures at 107 compared to 192 in 2019,” said Ms Maher.

An increased awareness of fraud was resulting in a reduction in a number of categories, including accommodation fraud, something that typically affects the city’s third level students.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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