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Connacht Tribune

Minister cautions against ‘quick fix’ to homes shortage

Dara Bradley

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There is “not a hope” of the housing crisis being solved within the next two years, according to a Government Minister of State.

Ciaran Cannon has dampened expectations of a quick fix to the problem of a shortage of houses, which is leading to higher rents and homelessness in Galway and across the country.

But the Minister for Diaspora insisted progress was being made – and the Government was pursuing the correct policies.

The Galway East Fine Gael representative said money was not an issue, and there is a record level of funding being made available to local authorities to build social housing.

“You’ve seen our construction sector go over the edge of a cliff in 2007 and 2008. You know all of the Galway-based developers that simply stopped building houses and went bankrupt. Cranking that machine right back up again has been incredibly difficult. It’s slowly beginning to happen. You’re beginning to see some development happening again in the city, and some smaller developments happening in our county towns,” he said.

Minister Cannon said Ireland was building 90,000 houses per year during the boom, and that dropped to 1,500 or 2,000 during the worst years of recession. Roughly 25,000 or 30,000 units per year is what experts say needs to be delivered now, he said.

“The private sector house building machine is still only beginning to find its way back to life again. The other side of the coin is public housing. And as Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has repeatedly pointed out, money is now not an issue. There has never been a commitment to the scale of what we’ve committed to do in terms of public housing over the next four to five years.

“During the depression and recession, our local authorities didn’t have the resources to build any houses, they were doing well to maintain their existing stock. That kind of corporate knowledge of memory of delivering large-scale housing was probably undermined significantly. Now the Councils are being charged with building very large housing developments again, and it is taking them time to crank-up the operation.

“I’m certainly hoping that in the next 24 or 48 months now, in terms of the private sector and the public sector, through local authorities, I think we’re going to make a dent in it. Are we going to solve it in two years? Not a hope, because there’s a massive catching-up exercise to be done here.

“It’s not an issue of resources, and that’s the key thing. A commitment on resources has been given by Eoghan (Murphy, Housing Minister) and Leo (Varadkar, Taoiseach),” he said.

As well as the dreadful impact the housing shortage is having on people’s lives, the housing crisis is politically damaging. Minister Cannon said the Fine-Gael led Government is pursuing the proper policies.

“In terms of people’s daily experiences, their own personal experiences, until they see the houses being built in their own local towns, until they see the housing lists beginning to reduce, the message won’t get through and why would it, if people aren’t seeing the physical manifestation of a policy, then as far as they are concerned the policy isn’t working. So, until such a time as they see that happening, we’re still fighting a battle. But that’s what we’re continuing to do in trying to convince people that we are doing the right thing here.

“I think we are – we’re making the planning process much more straightforward, we’re supporting local authorities in beginning to deliver housing on a large scale, primarily by telling them there is no issue with funds. You tell us how much you want, when you want it, and you shall have it.

“State intervention in the private sector, to prime the pump, I don’t agree with that, I think the private sector is well capable of pumping itself in terms of construction. Out here in my own locality in East Galway, I do see some of the more competent developers now beginning to get back into business and hopefully they start to deliver again on houses but it’s going to take time,” added Minister Cannon.

Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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