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More than 20 sleep rough each night in Galway City

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More than 20 people are believed to sleep rough on the streets of Galway each night, according to local charity COPE Galway.

The charity has blamed the situation on the “severe shortage” of housing available at the moment.

A statement from the charity reads: “There has been a steady increase in the numbers of people rough sleeping in Galway over recent weeks and months and this is now becoming much more visible in the city.

“The exact number of rough sleepers in Galway City isn’t known but on October 7, our Fairgreen Hostel identified 14 individual men that were rough sleeping that night. There are others that we also know of who we strongly suspect are rough sleeping and some more who are not in contact with or known to our services.

“All said, there may be in excess of 20 people rough sleeping in Galway on any given night. This increase in rough sleeping is the inevitable consequence of what can only be described as a severe shortage of housing currently available in Galway.

“Those in emergency accommodation are remaining there for extended periods of time as they cannot secure move on accommodation and this in turn means that emergency spaces are not available when people present to us homeless and in need of a place to stay.

“There are varied and complex factors which leading to people becoming and remaining homeless including family breakdown, poor mental health and addiction issues. There are some who do not have residency status or a centre of interest in Galway and this in turn restricts what financial and accommodation supports they are eligible for.

“These have always been the factors which contributed to people becoming and remaining homeless but what has changed in Galway now is the volumes of people becoming homeless and the acute shortage of move on housing and accommodation options available,” the statement reads.

The charity has also appealed to landlords for a premises of 1,500 square feet or larger to put in place emergency beds during the Winter.

“With winter fast approaching we, in conjunction with Galway City Council, the HSE and other agencies, are working to put in place a Cold Weather Response. The purpose of this first and foremost is to have additional emergency night time beds available for people who would otherwise sleep rough for the period between late November 2016 and March 2017. We also aim to work with those who are rough sleeping over this period to identify longer term solutions to their homelessness.

“We are currently trying to identify and secure a suitable premises from which to operate this Cold Weather Response and are appealing to anyone who may have a suitable space of 1,500 sq feet or larger available to contact Martin O’Connor on 091 778750 to discuss renting this space to use for a six-month period for this purpose. This needs to be in Galway City so that people sleeping rough can access it.

“We are also anxious to hear from you or members of the public concerned about someone sleeping rough in your area. You can either contact our Day Centre services directly at 091 525259 or direct them to the Day Centre which is situated in Seamus Quirke Road and which is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4pm and from 8.30am to 2pm on Saturdays.”

COPE Galway provide emergency accommodation and supports for people experiencing homelessness in Galway. The Fairgreen Hostel accommodates 26 men, and the women’s hostel Osterley Lodge in Salthill accommodates up to 13 single women and women with children. Both of these services are full on a nightly basis and have been for some months now.

The Day Centre for homeless at Teach Corrib in Newcastle also operates eight emergency accommodation units for families and arranges placements in tourist accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and hostels for single people and families who are homeless. The Day Centre also provides access to food, showers, clothing, bedding, and assistance with finding accommodation.

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!

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A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!

The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.

“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!

“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!

“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.

The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.

They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.

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Connacht Tribune

Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

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A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.

A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.

Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.

It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.

“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”

Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.

“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.

“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.

Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.

“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.

“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.

“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.

“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.

“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.

Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.

“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island

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Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.

The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.

According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.

As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.

Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.

Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.

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