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‘Projects will suffer’ if city cuts Property Tax

Francis Farragher



City councillors could find themselves in a ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ situation on Wednesday when they vote on a reduction proposal for the Local Property Tax.

Sinn Féin are pressing for a ‘one swoop’ 15% reduction in the Local Property Tax that goes into the coffers of the City Council for the provision of local services and amenities.

But some councillors fear that if such a cut is made to the income of the City Council, important sports and amenity projects will end up once again going on the long finger.

“There isn’t a councillor in the city or indeed across the country who wouldn’t favour a 15% cut in the property tax, but I’m afraid that the reality of this will be, that some major sporting and amenity projects will suffer,” said Cllr. Billy Cameron.

He said that in the past he had seen the juggling and effort involved on the part of the City Council where adjustments of around €250,000 had to be made – if the full 15% cut was to be made, schemes would be impacted upon.

Cllr. Cameron said that while the 15% cut might be a populist stance for Sinn Féin to adopt, the Council would have to look at the implications for projects such as the St. James’ GAA club development, phase two of the Corrib Park amenity project and the provision of the artificial playing surface at Cappagh Park.

However Sinn Féin councillor, Cathal Ó Conchúir, told the Galway City Tribune, that the issue had to be looked in a national perspective and in the context of the whole principle of the tax.

“We will be seeking the full reduction in the local property tax. This has been an unjust tax based primarily on people’s debts as they struggle to pay off mortgages.

“We really are a people that are at exhaustion level with taxes. We have the pensions levy, the universal social charge, PRSI and we just threw another €150 million into consultants to set up Irish Water. It’s well time to shout stop,” said Cllr. Ó Conchúir.

A spokesman for the City Council said that there was a statutory obligation on the local authorities to take a decision on any alteration to the Local Property Tax rate before September 30.

“At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, we will be setting out in detail the implications of any changes in the Local Property Tax rate. We will have a ready-reckoner guide for councillors to indicate how any change in the rate will impact on our finances,” said the spokesman.

Earlier this month, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, outlined that 10 local authorities, including Galway City Council, would be able to implement the full 15% tax reduction and still retain a surplus.

From 2015, local authorities will receive 80% of the Local Property Tax directly, with the remaining 20% to go into an ‘equalisation fund’ aimed at propping up ‘poorer’ Councils.

Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney



An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley



Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley



Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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