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Connacht Tribune

Minister’s position kept open – but 50 GMIT jobs slashed

Dara Bradley

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A Government Minister’s teaching position at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) will not be axed in the swingeing cutbacks planned at the third level college.

GMIT is planning to slash up to 50 jobs through a series of redundancies, non-replacement of staff who retire and non-renewal of temporary contracts.

The cuts are part of an overall plan to reduce the college’s €40 million-plus annual payroll costs.

However, the Connacht Tribune has learned that the position previously held by Seán Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, will be retained.

The Department of Building and Civil Engineering at the city campus is planning to fill the position left vacant by the Galway East TD, who is on leave or a ‘career break’ from his quantity surveying lecture position.

In an email to staff, Head of Department Mary Rogers, who is also a member of GMIT’s Governing Body, confirmed that they will seek to retain two positions for the new 2017/2018 academic year.

This was agreed, she said, following a meeting with current GMIT president Fergal Barry, and its financial controller Jim Fennell.

The email said: “Only two of the advertised posts will progress to interview – namely AL in Quantity Surveying (to cover Sean Canney’s hours) and AL in BIM (to cover hours for HDip in BIM and new BRE programme).”

Minister Canney was a lecturer but his hours will be covered by an assistant lecturer, according to the correspondence.

Ms Rogers informed staff that plan agreed with Messrs Barry and Fennell stated that “No additional academic hours will be approved over those already in place in the current academic year 2106/2017. Any additional hours required are to be dealt with through timetabling.”

Staff to student ratios will increase, she said, and so will the targets for the number of students enrolled.

Ms Roger’s email is an example of the implementation of cutbacks at a micro level, on the ground at its campuses in Galway and Mayo.

All other departments at GMIT are finalising cutback plans to rein-in spending.

GMIT has been running budget deficits for the four years to 2015, which, according to a new report, is threatening, “the viability and sustainability of its core operations in the longer term”.

The report, compiled by Michael O’Connell – a former financial controller at Limerick IT, when he was a colleague of Mr Barry – recommends cost reductions and income generation totalling €5 million for 2015-2020.

The suite of measures to reduce the €40 million-plus annual payroll costs, include non-replacement of staff who retire, non-renewal of temporary contracts, and redundancies.

The remaining staff will undergo the “retraining, reassignment and redeployment” to “create efficiencies” and to “absorb this reduction in capacity”.

On page four of the document, under sub-heading ‘control of staff costs’, Mr O’Connell, says, in bold and underlined: “GMIT’s staff costs have not reduced as its income has declined and it is necessary for this report to address in a definitive way this difficult but absolutely critical issue. The overriding requirement is that GMIT’s staff costs must be brought into line with what GMIT can afford.”

The report then outlines the argument in favour of job losses in academic and non-academic staff.

The O’Connell report says GMIT has 642 whole-time-equivalent (WTE) staff posts being paid by the exchequer, which is “50 posts more than authorised” under the State’s Employment Control Framework.

GMIT pays a further 42 WTE staff from its own resources, but the report says “these posts must be re-examined” because of the “significant and sustained overall deficit”.

It has a further 21 WTE staff self-financed by a campus company.

It highlights how GMIT is funding 705 posts, compared with 651 in the 2011/2012 academic year, when GMIT had 400 more students.

“Clearly this increase (in staff) has contributed very significantly to GMIT’s ongoing deficits,” it said.

The report identifies that a “large portion” of the unfunded excess cost of payroll is from non-academic staff.

“It is recommended that over a three-year period GMIT reduces its staff numbers to the authorised Employment Control Framework level of 592.”

Connacht Tribune

Time and history conferred character on this home

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The Hermitage, Ballymoe: on the market with a €425,000 guide price.

The Hermitage at Lisnageeragh, Ballymoe is a property on which time and history has conferred a character that no new property could mirror.

Overlooking 16.3 acres of rolling green fields which are included in the sale, this is indeed a unique house and comes to market with charming well maintained stone buildings. These could provide further family accommodation, holiday rentals or craft studios.

The front hall has a beautiful, curved window and leads to two reception rooms on either side of the house. The sitting room has an open fireplace with a black cast iron surround and wooden floors which gleam from years of care and reflect the light coming from two large windows. To the right-hand side, the dining room also has an attractive bay window and an oil-fired stove and it is indeed the perfect social /entertaining space.

To the rear of the house the kitchen is a classic example of a successful marriage of the old and the new. Bespoke shaker style units combine perfectly with modern recessed lighting, attractive tiling and includes a pantry area to one side. A good-sized bedroom and adjacent bathroom complete the downstairs of the main house.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms one of which has an en suite shower. The main bedroom is a delightful space which leads to another small room, a perfect nursery or walk in wardrobe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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A time when we learned once more that no man is an island

Francis Farragher

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Country singer Dolly Parton getting the jab: she sang about it and part-funded research on the vaccine.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the oft-repeated pub jokes whenever the price drink was increased, whether it by Finance Ministers or publicans who felt that their margins were being whittled away, was that: “As long as it doesn’t get scarce, we’ll be happy enough.”

Who could have believed though in the first month or two of 2020 that this scenario would unfold (at least in pubs), where the opportunity to meet friends – and the odd ‘auld enemy’ too – over a couple of pints in the local bar would be snatched away from us?

We probably have learned to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and most of us will remember the real sense of fear and constriction that pervaded our every word and action early last year.

2020 was the universal version of ‘annus horribilis’ – the term made famous by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 when royal marriages started to collapse like cards houses in the breeze.

Being of rural stock, I loved the little video earlier this from country music icon, Dolly Parton, who adapted a verse of her famous Jolene song to mark her first shot of the Moderna vaccine (she also donated $1 million to its research) in a very sincere effort to try and encourage the general public to get inoculated.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

I’m begging of you not to hesitate,

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

Cause when you’re dead that’s a bit too late.”

A year before that, times were indeed very strange across Ireland and indeed the world. I remember on the Sunday night before St. Patrick’s Day when a sense of incredulity greeted the news in my own local that ‘a lot of the pubs in Galway city were closing down’. Surely, this couldn’t happen in our own little watering hole in the sticks, but it did.

Michael Karmen’s soundtrack from the Band of Brothers series – a wonder piece of music even to my untrained ear – will always remind me of that early Spring period of lockdown in 2020.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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€4.5m worth of property sold during online event

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This detached house at Seacrest in Knocknacarra attracted a "staggering" level of interest.

More than €4.5 million worth of sales were recorded at the O’Donnellan & Joyce auction last week, where 350 people had pre-registered to bid on the 40 properties which went under the hammer.

80% of the properties sold during the auction or following negotiations immediately afterwards.

Among the properties sold at the auction were:

106 Seacrest, Knocknacarra, Galway. Guiding at €250,000 due to the extent of renovation and upgrade works required, the auctioneers were staggered at the level of interest in this 4-bed detached house.

Siobhra Hennessy, Senior Auction Co-Ordinator, said: “There is an increasing demand for city centre homes in need of repair. Couples want to put their own stamp on a property and often look for properties similar to this.”

Bidding commenced at €250,000 but quickly rose to over €350,000. After intense bidding from a number of internet and telephone bidders, the sale price of €364,000 was reached and the deal was done.

192 Bohermore, Galway. A 2-bed terraced house which attracted great attention, with many enquiries and bidders pre-registering. The house needs complete restoration and modernisation works but obviously appealed to a wide audience. It guided at €120,000, but sold for €179,000, despite the great amount of work required. Again, this is an example of a near-derelict building that offered great potential.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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