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Modular Family Hub planned for Westside in bid to deal with emergency accommodation crisis

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A modular family hub is to become operational in Westside in September in a bid to deal with the city council’s emergency housing crisis.

The 15 prefabricated units will be a mix of two and three bedroom and will have a life-span of five years, with officials hoping to wind them down in three years as other further longer term housing solutions become available.

At a special meeting at City Hall this afternoon, the CEO Brendan McGrath said he used emergency powers to move forward with the plan in order to deal with the crisis in housing supply.

The hub to be located at a site behind Westside library will have 24 hour onsite management provided by the Peter McVerry Trust.

It will have 15 accommodation units of 50 to 70 square metres in size, with two service units for office accommodation and meeting rooms and a small play area.

It’s being rolled out as part of a pilot scheme at a cost of two million euro, which will be funded by the department.

Enabling works are due to commence on the site in the coming weeks.

Occupants will sign a licensing agreement with the Peter McVerry Trust and will stay for a three month period, or a maximum limit of six months as they seek longer term accommodation.

Officials stressed the modular family hub is a temporary provision for a five year period only.

While all councillors acknowledged the housing crisis, many raised various concerns over the use of executive powers, the level of consultation with local area councillors and the public, zoning, access and the duration the modular build will be in place.

The use of executive powers generated much debate in the chamber with many councillors raising concerns over the level of notice and consultation regarding the plan.

Independent councillor Mike Cubbard asked if there had been any consultation with adjacent residents and businesses and queried if the plan is temporary.

He put forward a motion that a workshop be held in Westside community centre to discuss the plan, and received backing from 11 councillors.

Fine Gael councillor Pearce Flannery welcomed the plan and said it was a stop-gap or a stepping stone and while it is not a solution to the problem, it will alleviate some of the misery homeless families face who have to live in hotels and guesthouses.
His motion that councillors support modular housing as a temporary solution instead of hotels and B&Bs was passed with the backing of 8 members.

Fianna Fail councillor Peter Keane said while it was not the silver bullet, the entire focus needs to be on the homeless families who find themselves in the worst possible depair.

The meeting also heard that former guesthouse Corrib Haven in Upper Newcastle is to open as emergency accommodation in May providing 12 family units.

307 adults and 98 children are currently accessing emergency accommodation in the city at hotels and guesthouses.

Officials advised the local authority spent 20 thousand euro on emergency accommodation in October 2015 compared to 250 thousand euro in January.

A report presented on the Modular Family Hub revealed 2.4 million euro was spent in emergency accommodation in 2018 and this is projected to reach 3.5 million euro in 2019.

The meeting continues.

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Count set to resume in Seanad election with Galway Senator Sean Kyne is lead position

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Counting is set to resume later this hour (9.30am) to elect senators to the cultural and educational panel in the Seanad elections with Galway Senator Sean Kyne in lead position.

The count was suspended last night after the 13th count, with no candidate so far reaching the 188,000 quota.

Galway Fine Gael Senator Sean Kyne is leading on 180,000, followed in second place by his party colleague John McGahon on 175,000.

Sinn Fein’s Fintan Warfield on 157,000, Lisa Chambers of Fianna Fail on 144,000, and the Green Party’s Saoirse McHugh on 132,000 make up the top five.

There are five seats for up grabs on this panel.

Loughrea area Fine Gael councillor Michael Moegie Maher has been eliminated, as has Loughrea area Fianna Fail councillor Shane Curley.

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Nine more cases of COVID 19 recorded in Galway

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Nine further cases of COVID 19 have been confirmed in Galway bringing the total recorded in the county to 77.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of 295 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

The latest report from the HPSC shows that eight further patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ireland have died.

Six of these deaths occurred in the east, one in the south and one in the west.

The median age of the latest reported deaths is 86 with six patients understood to have underlying health conditions.

There have now been 54 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

Professor Philip Nolan, who chairs the Covid-19 modelling advisory group, says Ireland is making progress, but can’t predict when the surge of cases will come…

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Man charged with assault after allegedly coughing on staff at Tesco Ballinasloe

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A 33-year-old man has appeared before Galway District Court charged with assault after allegedly coughing in the direction of two female Tesco workers in Ballinasloe.

Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested at the shop last evening.

Konrad Prokopczyk was charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.

Garda David Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.

Gardai objected to a possible bail application, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.

It was claimed he had shown no remorse and thought the offences funny – and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco Ballinasloe.

Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.

She said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job – and was now very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and consequences.

Judge Marie Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant bail, noting it was “utterly despicable”.

She remanded the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.

Bail was granted on several conditions – including that Mr. Prokopczyk observe a nightly curfew, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.

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