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Less refuse Council houses in recession

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Date Published: {J}

THE amount of people refusing council houses offered to them in the city has fallen by a half since the start of the recession.

At the height of the boom in 2007, 35 percent of people offered houses by Galway city council refused them. In 2008, this figure had reduced as 26 percent of the total amount of people offered council houses declined the offer.

However, the biggest fall occurred this year as up to the end of June there was only an 18 percent refusal rate.

The waiting list for council houses in the city has been steadily increasing over the years and there are now over 2,500 people on the register.

This number is likely to keep rising as no specific social housing developments are planned by the council for next year due to budgetary constraints.

In addition, private developers who are obliged to give a percentage of their development to social and affordable schemes have severely cut back their building activity due to lack of demand.

The current average waiting times for people seeking a council house on the Westside of the city is 7-9 years while the average waiting times for people looking for houses on the eastside of the city is 4-6 years.

A council official has confirmed that up to the start of November there were 85 vacant council properties around the city. The reasons why the houses are vacant include death of tenant, surrender of the house for varying reasons and tenant transfers to an alternative council property.

Some of these houses are subject to major refurbishment works before they can be re-offered to tenants. Ten houses had been accepted by people but are awaiting change of tenancy works which takes a considerable period of time. However, the council confirmed that 21 homes had been offered to people but had been refused and were in the process of being re-offered.

Councillor Collette Connolly a member of the City Council’s Strategic Housing Policy Committee says she is glad the figures for people refusing houses has declined and believes it’s probably indictative of the current economic climate.

Councillor Connolly believes the reason such a large number of people were refusing houses was they were not happy with the location they were being offered homes in.

“On application forms, people were allowed state specific areas they wanted to live in and they were being offered houses that were not in their area of preference. It was usually because they had children in schools in these areas and they did not want to move them.

“People were also being offered apartments when they wanted houses. People with young children generally don’t want to live in apartments. They don’t want to be traipsing up stairs twenty times a day. The council was not taking these factors into consideration,” she pointed out.

Councillor Connolly agreed that there was a lot of anger among people struggling to buy private houses that the refusal rate for council houses was so high.

“People might think these people are being choosy but everybody is entitled to equality about where they live, even those on low incomes. The majority of people on these lists earn less than €20,000 per year,” she added.

Councillor Connolly said it was ‘disgraceful’ that no council estates were being built this year. “It’s scandalous, the council borrowed €20 million last year to fund the housing capital building programme and now there is no money to build houses.”

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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