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Only one quarter of women and children in Galway get refuge

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Accommodation shortage for those seeking shelter

Only 200 of the almost 800 women and children who sought safety from domestic violence could be accommodated by County Galway’s leading homeless charity last year.

In its annual report, COPE Galway said that the limitations of the current refuge services in the city and county seriously affected the organisation’s ability to respond to demand.

A significant rise in demand for domestic violence services, up 11% on the 2012 figure, is one of the most startling aspects of the report as the organisation provided safety and supports for 669 women and children throughout the year.

“More people were looking for a service, but we were able to accommodate less,” said COPE Galway CEO Jacquie Horan yesterday.

“The really big problem was that people were not able to move on from refuges or temporary accommodation.”

COPE Galway accommodated 346 single people and families who were homeless last year, and provided support for over 650 people who were affected by homelessness.

“While this represents an overall increase of 12%  in the numbers of people presenting for help in our homeless services, the numbers we were able to accommodate in emergency hostels were less than in 2012 (down 9%),” said Ms Horan.

“The reason for this is that a lack of affordable move on accommodation meant that people stayed longer in emergency accommodation (on average 50% longer) because they could not find suitable accommodation to move into.”

She said many people in Galway faced the threat of being made homeless last year after their landlords issued notice to quit, either to raise the rent or to sell properties.

“Rising rents, notice to quit and an inability to secure alternative accommodation are causing an ever increasing number of families to become homeless, many for the first time,” she told the Connacht Tribune.

She said the situation had reached “crisis point” due to rising rents and the lack of construction of new homes. Many properties available for rent in Galway were not accessible to those on social welfare and in recent of rent allowance.

As recently as last month, there were 45 families and 20 single people seeking accommodation with COPE’s assistance, yet effectively there was only one house available.

However, there was also good news for COPE Galway last year when the Sisters of Mercy donated a convent on Forster Street for use by the homeless charity.

Although the new refuge will not be available until 2016, Ms Horan said it would provide a massive boost to the organisation with the development of ten self-contained units.

“This will be renovated to provide a state of the art refuge which will cater for demand and offer much improved facilities in a location which is ideal both in terms of safety and access to local services and supports.”

Throughout last year, COPE also helped older people across Galway, supporting healthy aging at home and lunch clubs which allow people to come together.

Ms Horan thanked all of the people who support COPE’s work across the city and county.

“With ongoing support, COPE Galway can continue to highlight and address the issues facing the most vulnerable in our community,” she added.

Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road

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Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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CITY TRIBUNE

New fire station for Athenry gets stamp of approval

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Councillors have given their stamp of approval to a new fire station for Athenry – voting unanimously to grant planning for the development at Ballygarraun South.

The site of just under two acres, located between the new Presentation College and the railway line, will house a station as well as a training tower and parking.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Duffy told a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week that they hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of October, with works to get underway soon afterwards.

“We have worked very hard to get this project to a tangible position and it’s great that the ‘Part 8’ planning application [one which requires a vote by councillors] has been adopted today,” said Mr Duffy.

“This will hopefully get underway this year and we can move on to other stations [in the county], with another one planned for next year and another the year after,” he added.

The plans include the construction of a 361 square metre fire station with finishing materials common to the area which ‘will link the development on the site to the context overall’.

Permission has been granted from the IDA, which owns the site, for Galway County Council to proceed with the development on their lands.

The meeting heard that consideration had been given to the sightlines for exiting fire trucks and that amendments had been made to the original plans to ensure they were adequate.

Local area councillor Gabe Cronnelly (Ind) said the progression of a new fire station for the town was hugely welcome, adding that it had been years in the making.

“We have to give huge credit to Paul Duffy who pursued this. Athenry is one of the busiest stations in the county. We secured an extension for the existing station six years ago and when the Department was granting that, they could see that, from the amount of calls it was getting, that a new station was justified,” said Cllr Cronnelly.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she was ‘delighted’ that the area’s representatives had given the proposal their unanimous backing.

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Connacht Tribune

Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure

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Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.

Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.

During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.

A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.

He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.

The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.

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