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Not a single council home built in Galway in five years

Denise McNamara

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The housing waiting list has broken the 4,000 mark, yet not one council house has been built in five years.

City Hall’s current records show there are 4,041 people who applied for a council house according to a breakdown of the housing waiting list given in answer to a question submitted by Sinn Féin Councillor Mairéad Farrell.

That is after 1,900 applicants were removed overnight following an audit two years ago.

The average waiting time for a council house or flat was a minimum of eight years – for those applying for a three-bed on the eastside – right up to 12 years which was what faced those on the Westside who were holding out for a one or two-bed property.

Some 1,567 were on the list because they were unable to afford private sector rent due to being dependent on the rent supplement.

The other biggest group of people hoping for a council house were those living in unsuitable accommodation. Some 558 were sharing accommodation involuntarily while 317 had some sort of disability that rendered their current living arrangements unsuitable.

A total of 189 were classed as homeless or living in an institution or emergency accommodation such as a hostel.

In the past five years, not one house was built. 2003 was the boom time when it came to the council building its own accommodation – the local authority constructed a total of 852 units in the past 14 years, 292 of them in 2003. In 2009 the council built 83 units, marginally better than 2000 when there were 81 properties built.

In answer to another question submitted by Cllr Farrell, the council revealed there were 27 properties under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) withdrawn by the owners in 2014.

The number of properties secured for the scheme was just seven last year, while 63 had rent reviews renegotiated for the period.

The average monthly rent paid for RAS accommodation secured from the private rental market was €655 for a one-bedroom property, €715 for a two-bed, €777 for a three-bed and €886 for a four-bedroom flat or house.

The fact that no building had occurred since 2009 under the reign of the present Coalition was a shocking endictment on Government’s housing strategy, insisted Cllr Farrell.

“We’re in a real crisis situation, particularly in Galway City. Clearly the fact we’re not building houses we’re becoming more reliant on the private sector but the figures show we have 20 less for last year – that’s another 20 families forced into the private market,” she stated.

“I know some of the people who have contacted me are told to move in with family, but we can see there are 558 already involuntarily sharing, some of them must be in a awful situation – it’s just not viable for some people to do that.

“The only thing that’s going to alleviate this crisis is to build housing. It’s the biggest issue for my constituents. There is a real sense of no hope – and you can see why when you get figures showing not one house has been built in five years.”

A Housing Need Assessment (HNA) exactly two years ago saw 1,900 applicants for social housing struck off the list, bringing those deemed to have a housing need to 3,100. Before the compulsory audit, Galway City Council’s housing waiting list stood at just over 5,000 – the highest ever in the history of the city’s housing waiting lists.

The vast majority of the 1,900 applicants removed were people who did not respond to the HNA letters and did not return the forms correctly. Some of the applicants are thought to have emigrated, others could have died.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush

Dara Bradley

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Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure

Declan Tierney

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The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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