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No new social housing to be built in city for ten years

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Date Published: 28-Oct-2010

By Dara Bradley

The dreams of 3,500 people on the city housing list are set to be dashed next week as Galway City Council outlines plans to ‘give away’ 21 acres of Council-owned land earmarked for social housing.

The move could mean no social housing will be built in Galway for up to ten years. The decision to offload the land has been taken by the Acting City Manager as the City Council cannot afford to pay the cost of servicing loans taken out to buy the land.

The proposal, dubbed the ‘NAMA for local authorities’, will shatter the hopes of the 3,500 people on Galway City Council’s housing waiting list who had hoped the land would be used to build up to 400 new units of social housing – the Council has admitted any new social houses might not be built for ten years.

During the boom years, the Council raised more than €26 million in loans to purchase land in Knocknacarra and Rahoon to build social houses.

The three sites owned by the Council, at Ballyburke and on the Ballymoneen Road, are now lying idle and the loans are accumulating interest – the value of the outstanding loan now stands at €29.5 million. The Council has admitted that these lands would not be developed for at least five years and possibly ten years.

Acting City Manager Joe O’Neill is proposing that 60% of the land – that is 21 acres of the Council’s 38 acres which were bought at the height of the boom – be included in the Government’s new Land Aggregation Scheme.

This means the Council would give the land to a state agency (which is not yet established) – it would no longer own the land but the debt and the cost of servicing the loans would also be transferred to the new body, which is like a ‘NAMA for local authorities’.

The proposal is likely to be strongly resisted by City Councillors given the backlog of people on the housing waiting list – there are more than 3,500 waiting to be housed and a further 400 applicants waiting to be assessed to get on this list. Some people are on the waiting list for 10 years.

City Councillor Derek Nolan (Lab) said the proposal is daft while City Councillor Catherine Connolly (Ind) described it as bizarre.

“If approved, this would mark the death knell for social housing in Galway as we know it. If this is approved we will lose 60% of our landbank and there will be no guarantee and no assurance that we can get this back in the future,” said Cllr Nolan.

Cllr Connolly said: “It is bizarre and makes no sense on any level. [The] City Manager’s decision to suspend all public housing construction beggars belief.”

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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