A new system aimed at bringing empty homes back into use for social housing – which could be refurbished and ‘turned around’ in a matter of weeks – has identified more than 130 such properties in Galway.
VacantHomes.ie – a portal which allows people to anonymously log possible vacant properties which can then be inspected by local authorities – has identified 93 ‘empties’ in Co Galway and a further 41 in Galway City. They are amongst around 2,000 nationally.
Tom Gilligan, the architect of the website and a Director of Services with Mayo County Council, told the Connacht Tribune that it would be much faster to bring empties back into use than delivering new builds, due to the lengthy planning process.
“The planning process can take months, but it would be possible with an empty to bring it back in weeks.
“What we’re doing is providing information to housing associations and local authorities that these are vacant homes and could be brought back into use,” said Mr Gilligan.
While the website has recorded more than 130 empties in Galway, these would appear to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ – Census 2016 recorded 10,279 empty homes in County Galway and a further 3,681 empty holiday homes (which equates to around one in every five homes). In Galway City, the Census recorded 3,671 empties, of which 193 were holiday homes.
Michael Owens, Director of Services for Housing with Galway County Council said other local authorities have found the Census figures to be “overstated”.
Tom Gilligan pointed out that the Census is just a snapshot of a particular moment in time, and the figures are now two-and-a-half years old.
“We firmly believe that local people have the local knowledge and we are using technology in order to provide a solution to vacant homes. Vacant housing stock is one of the best ways to address [social housing] needs, the potential there cannot be ignored.
“What we’re trying to do is tap into the local knowledge and try to get homes back into use. This isn’t just a housing issue – there is a climate, economic, social and community aspect to it, in terms of dereliction and anti-social behaviour and local jobs,” said Mr Gilligan.
He said that vacant houses could be used to deliver social housing faster than new builds.
“A vacant house could be brought back in weeks,” he said.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer
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While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.
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Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
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The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.
She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.
The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.
“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.
“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”
Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
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But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.
The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.
To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.
“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.
But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.
Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie