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



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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Three Galway Pubs shortlisted for the Final of the Irish Pub Awards 2022



Three Galway Pubs have been shortlisted for the Final of the Irish Pub awards for 2022.

Now in its fourth year, the Irish Pub Awards, jointly presented by the Licenced Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland are acknowledged as the definitive industry standard and have gained recognition throughout the trade as the most credible and comprehensive assessment of the best in Irish Pubs.

The three Galway pubs are already winners in the Connacht Region and are John Keogh’s Gastro Pub in Galway City who was named best food pub, Lowrys music and whiskey bar in Clifden who was named best Tourist pub and O’Connells in Eyre Square who was named best outdoor space.

The Final Irish Pub Awards will be announced at a special ceremony to take place in Dublin on Wednesday the 16th of November.

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Defence Forces’ charity places permanent accommodation and mental health at heart of new strategic plan



Launching its 2022-2026 agenda on Saturday afternoon, ONE Chief Executive said ex-defence forces members are facing a homeless crisis, should action not be taken  

ONE, Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (or the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel) has, today, launched its nine-part Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. The blueprint, unveiled at ONE’s Annual Convention at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin, this afternoon, outlines the charity’s action plan in helping mitigate homelessness for veterans of the Defence Forces and tackling mental health issues. Speaking at the launch, the charity’s CEO, Cormac Kirwan, said the organisation is focused on securing sustainable government funding over the coming years, with the ultimate goal of supporting homeless veterans across the country, and helping ex-personnel access much needed permanent accommodation, improve their mental health and prevent future homelessness.

To date, ONE has helped over 1,000 veterans build their lives post-service. The charity currently provides accommodation and meals for 51 veterans, who would otherwise be homeless, in its four residential homes. It is currently developing a further residential facility in Cork City to bring its homeless accommodation to 57 bedrooms. ONE operates four homes in Dublin, Athlone, Letterkenny and Cobh, and  has a network of 15 Veteran Support Centres and 38 Branches, however, with inflation, the cost of running these facilities is increasing all the time. The charity has an annual operating budget of approximately €1.1 million for services, as well as additional capital spending based on the projects being undertaken. While the organisation is grateful for the state funding it receives, there is a significant deficit that must be raised by the charity to support its vital services in helping house those who have served the country. This is achieved through fundraisers, membership subscriptions and donations.  

The ONE Strategic Plan 2022-2026 focuses on the organisation’s primary goals for the coming years – Governance; Support and Awareness; Financial Stability; Veteran Homes; Veteran Support Centres and Branches; Veteran Mental Health Support; Diversity & Inclusion; The I Am A Veteran Network; and Government Veteran Policy.

The previous plan – Building for the Future – came to an end in early 2022, and the Board of Directors tasked the Strategy and Risk Committee with producing a new strategy which would be carried up until the charity’s 75th anniversary in 2026. The plan will be reviewed annually, and any proposed changes will be presented at the Annual Convention.

ONE was formed on March 10th, 1951, in Dublin’s Mansion House, to address the enduring consequences of the major demobilisation after the Emergency Period. It has evolved into a charity that seeks to address the needs of veterans in the 21st century. In 2022, the enduring effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasingly unstable security situation exemplified by the war in Ukraine, rapid inflation, and the continuing housing crisis, were major factors impacting veterans. ONE has sought, and will continue to seek, to support veterans during and beyond this period. 

The Strategic Plan 2022-2026 seeks to ensure that ONE is relevant, useable and adaptable in supporting veterans of the Irish Defence Forces.

Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive of ONE, Cormac Kirwan, said the charity has a significantly pro-active agenda for the coming years:

“Our Strategic Plan 2022-2026 outlines our core plans for the coming years, to take us up to the charity’s 75th anniversary. Assisting veterans who face homelessness and addressing mental health issues following years of serving the country are two issues we are prioritising to help those in need. At the end of the day, ONE is all about supporting our veterans who volunteered to join the Defence Forces. To put it bluntly, nobody volunteered to one day become homeless after working for years. The words “service” and “veterans” are often used together. The duration, the type of service and the rank achieved are not important; rather it is that veterans served their country at home and overseas in the cause of peace.  Some of them now need your help. Please help ONE to help our veterans.”

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Next few hours crucial for Damian Browne as Project Empower Row nears the end



A journey that started nearly sixteen weeks ago and featured a distance of almost 5000 kms across one of the most ferocious and unforgiving stretches of water on the planet is nearing the end with the news that adventurer Damian Browne is now within sight of Ireland after leaving New York last June.

Known as the Project Empower Row, it featured Damien and Fergus Farrell with the plan of rowing unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean.

A row of this type to Galway has never been attempted before and if successful will also make Browne the first ever man in history to row across the Atlantic in both directions and climb Mount Everest.

The row began on June the 15th when passing waypoint 1 at 4.12am and there had been a fear yesterday that the Row would not finish in Galway as currents had driven him south eastwards.

However, conditions improved and with Damian passing waypoint number 290 just off the coast of Kerry, there is now a real hope that he will be able to go up the coast to the finish.

Macdara Hosty is assisting Damian in managing the Project Empower Row and he told John Mulligan that the next nine hours will be critical if Damian is to finish the row in Galway.

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