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No modular homes for city’s homeless

Dara Bradley

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The use of cellular modular houses is not being considered as a temporary solution to Galway City’s housing shortage crisis, it has been confirmed.

The temporary houses – effectively prefabricated homes – are being used to reduce homelessness in Dublin but they do not form part of Galway City Council’s plans.

The Council has ruled out use of the temporary structures, as new information has emerged which shows city landlords continue to abandon the RAS Scheme which is resulting in a spike in homelessness in Galway, and increased Council housing waiting lists.

Meanwhile, a homeless Galway mother and her two children are still sleeping rough in the family car in the city, as no suitable accommodation has been found.

This weekend, the unemployed teacher and her two girls, aged 12 and 14, will have been sleeping rough in their car at a popular city tourist attraction, for two weeks.

The case, which highlights the homeless crisis in Galway, was first revealed in our newspaper last week.

Since then a number of people have come forward with offers of help.

The mother, who asked to remain anonymous to protect the identity of her children who are going to school in the city, is hopeful of a finding a home next week.

“We have found a landlord that is willing to take rent allowance. We are just waiting for approval from the Social Welfare office. The rents are very high – it’s €1,100 for a two-bed. That’s a lot higher than during the Celtic Tiger era. We are just waiting for approval for the rent allowance,” she said yesterday.

She said Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív is helping with her situation. She claims neither the City Council nor social care workers have been in touch with her in over a week.

The mother confirmed that nothing has happened to the trio while they were sleeping rough in their car but they are desperate now to find a home.

“No, we haven’t had any trouble. But at the same time how safe is it to be sleeping out in the car? We are hoping to get somewhere next week. We are exhausted by it all,” she said.

Since being evicted last May, the family have moved 14 times as the City Council provided them with temporary, emergency accommodation in B&Bs, hotels and apartments.

This individual case highlights the housing shortage in the city. City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath confirmed this week that some 37 landlords issued ‘notices to quit’ to tenants on the RAS scheme.

RAS was popular with landlords during the recession because they were guaranteed income for a set period but now that rents have soared, they are leaving the scheme because they can get much higher rents in the open market.

Last week, a Council spokesperson confirmed up to 20 people who are desperate and seeking emergency accommodation, are presenting as newly-homeless.

Despite the problem, the Council yesterday said it currently has no plans to follow the lead of Dublin and provide cellular modular houses as an interim measure.

The City Council is awaiting approval from the Department of Environment to proceed with plans to build 69 new Council homes in Knocknacarra. Work on 14 new Council houses is underway but Government approval for the remaining 69 adjacent to them hasn’t been given.

Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher

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Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara

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Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley

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More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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