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Connacht Tribune

One fifth of pubs in County Galway have closed since economic crash

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Rural pubs will continue to be forced to close their doors unless action is taken to halt the decline of rural communities across the country, the Monivea-based publican leading the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has warned.

This comes as it was revealed this week that almost 20% of pubs in County Galway have had to shut up shop over the past 13 years – equating to 110 less pubs, most of which have been lost since the economy crashed in 2007.

President of the VFI, Pádraic, McGann said the only way to stop this was to ensure that publicans in rural Ireland were being treated fairly – and one area where Galway publicans were at a particular disadvantage was in the calculation of commercial rates.

Mr McGann explained that ten years ago, the manner in which publicans’ rates are calculated changed. Where it had previously been calculated on the size of a premises, they are now calculated based on the turnover of the business over three years.

However, pubs in six counties have yet to be reassessed – one of which is Galway.

“As President of the VFI, all I would like to see is fair play and if you’re entitled to something, you should get it. A lot of pubs are going out of business because of rates.

“Galway, Donegal, Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Cork are still to be done,” he said.

Mr McGann said it would be another two years before publicans in Galway had their rates recalculated and as a result, some were being forced to close.

“70% [in other areas of the country] that have been recalculated have had a reduction; 20% have stayed the same; and 10% have seen an increase because their takings were up.

“We know the calculation so we’re able to work out for ourselves what the difference would be and I know that my rates [for McGann’s Pub in Monivea] would be €4,000 less a year. Over ten years, that’s €40,000,” he said.

“When you think of all the pubs that have had to close over because of being unable to pay their rates or being in arrears with Galway County Council . . . and this is something they were entitled to eight years ago,” he added.

Approximately 65% of pubs outside of Dublin turn over less than €4,500 per week and a further 33% are taking less than €7,500 per week,” said Mr McGann, adding that any pub taking less than €4,500 was “not sustainable”.

The problem for rural pubs was more than financial though, said Mr McGann, with the closure of rural pubs emblematic of the collapse of the rural economy.

Culture had changed, he said, and people were now drinking more frequently at home due to the cheap price of alcohol in supermarkets.

Stricter drink-driving laws and a lack of taxis and hackneys in rural areas had left people with no choice but to stop going to the pub.

“What would really help rural Ireland would be if we were to start looking at older people and start setting up small retirement villages in rural areas, where you would have 100 houses and all necessary services on one site,” said Mr McGann, who has previously tried to develop a retirement village in Monivea, but was refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.

This, he said, would halt declining populations in rural areas and create employment, thus boosting the local economy and increasing the sustainability of rural businesses.

Meanwhile, local councillor and Kilconnell publican, Tim Broderick, said that rural pubs in many cases were part of the fabric of rural life – creating a hub for the community and providing a social outlet for people that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Calling for a “level playing field”, Cllr Broderick said that the number of pubs closing came as little surprise when supermarkets were, he claimed, selling alcohol for below cost price.

Pubs provided a controlled environment for the consumption of alcohol, something that didn’t exist when people were buying cheap drink from the shops.

“Most publicans are responsible people who conduct their business within the law. They provide entertainment and they’re doing their best for their area.

“The person you’re serving is the person you’re going to be meeting on the street the next day. They care about their clientele and their community,” said Cllr Broderick.

Cllr Broderick said there needed to be a long-term vision for rural Ireland and that pub closures represented the lack of action being taken by Government to secure smaller communities’ survival.

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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