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CITY TRIBUNE

Payments to city councillors in Galway totalled €480,000 in 2017

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Galway City Tribune – Councillors earned more than €480,000 in salaries and expenses in 2017, according to newly-published Galway City Council figures.

This week’s Galway City Tribune publishes the full details of what each of the 18 city councillors were paid in allowances and expenses.

Fine Gael’s Pearce Flannery was the top claimant for the year with a total of €36,876 – he served as mayor for the second half of the year and expenses included trips to Chicago (a ‘sister’ city of Galway) and on to the Milwaukee Irish Festival.

The next highest earner was his party colleague, Padraig Conneely at €36,448, followed by Independent councillor Noel Larkin (who served as mayor for the first half of 2017), who was paid €34,206.

Galway’s 18 councillors cost the taxpayer a grand total of €480,591, which is over €18,000 more than the total of 2016. The comparative total for 2015 was €462,376.

The monies paid to councillors include an annual basic salary of €16,565 (which is subject to tax) and a further annual allowance of up to €4,390 depending on the number of local authority meetings which were attended by the individual councillor.

Councillors are also entitled to claim an allowance for their mobile phones, as well as for travelling expenses, overnight and subsistence expenses for travelling to conferences around the country. Councillors who serve terms as mayor can also expect to have international trips.

Those who Chair one of the City Council’s five Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) – Housing; Transportation and Infrastructure; Economic Development and Planning; Environment and Recreation, Amenity and Culture also receive an allowance of €6,000 per annum.

Cllr Padraig Conneely was the most travelled of the councillors during the year with 25 trips – four to Dublin, three to Cork, two to Mayor, Laois, Donegal, Tipperary, Meath, Wexford and Sligo and separate trips to Clare, Louth, Leitrim, Wicklow, Mayo and Cavan.

The trips were made in his capacity as a councillor and also because he was elected as a delegate to other bodies including the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) and the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) and Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees.

During his time as mayor, Cllr Noel Larkin claimed more than €1,200 for a week-long trip to Boston, St Louis and San Francisco in the United States; €1,600 for a 10-day trip to Seattle and New York around St Patrick’s Day and €225 for a visit to Germany for the city’s designation as a ‘Green Leaf’ environmental designation.
For the full breakdown on payments to all 18 city councillors, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

CITY TRIBUNE

Renters paying €12,000 more per annum in Galway City than ten years ago

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People living in private rented accommodation in Galway City are paying, on average, around €12,000 more per annum than they were a decade ago.

New research from property website Daft.ie has found that in the past year, average rents in the city have increased by 16.4% and now stand at €1,713 per month.

Meanwhile, the Dáil was told last week that the situation in the rental market in the city is “horrendous”.

According to the figures published this week, rents in the city have increased by a whopping 145% since the bottom of the market in early 2012, when they stood at an average of around €700 per month.

Nationally, the increase was 14.1% year on year, or 4.3% between June and September (the figure was 3% for Galway City).

Economist Ronan Lyons of Daft.ie said that the last ten quarterly reports from the website have recorded new all-time highs for average rents.

He said that in the past 18 months, there has been an “extraordinary collapse” in the stock available to rent in Ireland.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Select Committee on Finance last week, Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell said Sinn Féin had long been calling for tax credits, but these needed to be in tandem with a freeze on rents.

“My concern is that if the Government does not introduce a rent freeze, this measure will put further pressure on families and individuals who are struggling to pay for their accommodation. Many renters feel there is no end or hope in sight. To be perfectly honest, I have never seen the housing crisis in Galway as bad as it is now.

“Galway is the place I can best reference and there is little rental property available in Galway. There is concern that this will add to the pressure that people are already facing if a rent freeze is not also introduced,” she said.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe responded that in the Budget he had announced a €500 rent credit, specifically for those who do not receive other housing supports from the State.

“I also acknowledge that too many people are paying too much of their income in rent,” he said.

The Minister added that in Berlin, where rent freezes were imposed, the volume of new rental accommodation available had decreased, and he contended the same would happen in Ireland.

Deputy Farrell said: “Myself and the woman who works with me in my local office are at our wits’ end. Today we had a conversation about how to tell people coming to us that the council can do nothing because there are no rental properties and there is nowhere for people to go.

“That is a position that we have not seen ourselves in since I was elected. I am talking about the period since 2014. Things are getting worse.”

According to the Daft.ie report, average monthly rents for a one-bed apartment in Galway City stand at €1,142 (up 15% year on year); €1,333 for a two-bed house (up 13.7%); €1,594 for a three-bed house (up 16.2%); €1,948 for a four-bed (up 17.7%) and €1,959 for a five-bed (up 2.7%).

For the ‘rent a room’ renters, a single bedroom in the city centre is costing an average of €572 per month (up 15.1% year on year) and €617 for a double room (up 13.4%). In the suburbs, single bedrooms and renting for €533 per month (up 20.3%) and €593 for a double (up 22.5%).

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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister deploys high-level ‘rescue’ team to help University Hospital Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has deployed a high-level National Support Team to help crisis-stricken University Hospital Galway

Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operating Officer of the Saolta University Healthcare Group – which operates UHG and Merlin Park – confirmed this week that the ‘rescue’ team was in place to tackle overcrowding and delays at the Emergency Department.

Membership of the support team includes at least seven high-level HSE managers, including a hospital consultant.

The team has already met with local staff in charge of patient flow, discharges, bed management and unscheduled care. They will write up an action plan to improve the patient experience, she said.

The hospital has implemented a targeted intervention plan over the past few months to reduce the number of patients on trolleys while awaiting admission to a bed, focusing on timely diagnostics and decision making and the timely discharge of patients.

To achieve this, the hospital had been approved to recruit seven patient flow coordinators, one “data analyst for the acute floor” and one medical social worker.

Management are also in talks to increase bed capacity with the Galway Clinic and the Bon Secours private hospitals.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, and support our journalism, see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also extensive coverage this week of plans for a new cancer Centre of Excellence and the latest meeting of the Regional Health Forum West. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Shoplifting in Galway almost doubles as cost of living crisis takes hold

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The rate of shoplifting in the Galway City has skyrocketed as the cost of living crisis takes hold.

At a public meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) on Tuesday, it was revealed that the rate of theft from shops in the city had increased by 87% year-on-year.

Chief Data Analyst for the Galway Garda Division, Olivia Maher, said this was in line with a national trend.

“There is some thought that this is as a result of the cost of living crisis and the pressures that people are under as a result – we are seeing these trends at a national level,” said Ms Maher.

She said that overall, property theft had begun to return to pre-Covid levels, with 1,264 incidents in the first 10 months of 2022 – a 50% increase on the same period last year.

“Property crime is beginning to reach pre-Covid figures and while it’s up on last year, it’s down 5% on the 2019 figure.

“Burglary is still trending below pre-Covid figures at 107 compared to 192 in 2019,” said Ms Maher.

An increased awareness of fraud was resulting in a reduction in a number of categories, including accommodation fraud, something that typically affects the city’s third level students.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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