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CITY TRIBUNE

Psychologist Peter Dorai Raj left profound impact on adopted city

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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OBITUARY

Peter Dorai Raj never regretted leaving his native Malaysia to make a life for himself on the other side of the world in Galway.

His well-attended funeral recently was a testament to the high regard his adopted city had for him, as well it should for his tireless work in improving the quality of life of many of its inhabitants through his work as a psychologist.

In his 83rd year, Peter had enjoyed just a short three years of retirement from Pro Consult, a counselling service he had helped set up in 1992 with Dr Kathleen Fitzgerald, in response to the lack of affordable professional services in the West of Ireland at that time.

When it was founded in Newtownsmyth, it was under the auspices of the Catholic Church, supported by the late Bishop Eamonn Casey, who knew Peter from his work as a psychologist with the Brothers of Charity, with whom he worked until his retirement at the age of 65.

But Peter continued, with his wife Helen, a counsellor, to work with Pro Consult for well over another decade.

Peter was educated in Malaysia by the Irish De La Salle brothers who advised him to apply for university in Ireland when he showed in interest in psychology while working as a teacher,

He arrived at UCG in 1967 as a religious brother and initially completed a BA in Galway.

It was while in college in Galway that he met two people who were to have a huge influence on his life, his future wife Helen Lawless from Fr Griffin Road, and Seamus McCloone, a psychologist who advised him to do a post graduate diploma in Psychology in UCD.

By then Peter and Helen had become a couple. They married in 1972 and settled in Renmore, near his new job with the Brothers of Charity.

In 1984 the couple moved to Grattan Court where they reared a family of five and, as in all aspects of Peter’s life, he proved to be ahead of his time in his role of husband and father.

A gentle soul who supported his wife and children, he was more than happy to do more of the cooking when Helen decided she wanted to train as a therapist.

Peter only made a few trips home to Malaysia – his parents died when he was younger (his father when he was just five and his mother years later in a road accident). He no longer spoke his native Tamil but he never forgot the dishes he had seen his mother make and the Dorai Raj home in Galway was an open welcoming one where Peter made many a delicious curry.

The sense of family was strong and he hosted many a niece and nephew or cousin into his home.

His daughter Siobhán in her eulogy in St Ignatius Church during the funeral Mass, celebrated by Fr Martin Curry SJ, told the congregation that her father was a “hands-on dad who couldn’t bear to hear us cry when we woke in the night, so paced the floor rocking us back to sleep.”

She recalled how he had ceded complete control of the family finances to his wife believing that his money was to be shared in the household but rarely spent a penny on himself.

He was proud of his children and supported them in their decisions and in recent years adored his three grandchildren, Isabella, Killian and Nia.

Of course, it was this caring attitude and his passion for his work that made him so popular with colleagues and clients. He had always been an advocate for independent living for people with intellectual disabilities and welcomed moves by Irish institutions to encourage residents to move into the community.

He made Galway his home and loved walks on Salthill Prom and, indeed, played tennis until he was seventy when he got cancer, a disease he survived, though his fitness levels were never the same afterwards.

He had been a keen sportsman – cricket, hockey, football as well as tennis and followed local teams, always supporting Galway.

Peter kept up with current affairs even watching the Nuacht despite not having a word or Irish, though at one stage of his life he attempted to learn it but never accomplished fluency due to his busy work schedule.

In his retirement he loved visiting his grandchildren in England and continued to give talks on interpersonal development and parenting whenever he was asked.

He was a daily Mass-goer and never lost his strong Catholic faith, one that was, and still is, a minority religion in Malaysia.

He died peacefully at the Galway Clinic following a short illness but was ready to die being the spiritual and positive person he was.

He is survived and missed by Helen, his children, Paul, Siobhán, David, Conn and Maria as well as his sister, Susilee, sons-in-law Justin and Andreas, brother-in-law Eamon, sisters-in-law Mary and Angela, his adored grandchildren as well as extended family and circle of friends.

CITY TRIBUNE

Hundreds of snapper Pat’s Galway photos set to be showcased

Denise McNamara

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Well-known face: amateur photographer Pat Cantwell

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Pictures of everyday Galway faces and places – captured by an amateur photographer as part of a hobby – are to be featured on new hoarding to be erected around the Bonham Quay building site.

Pat Cantwell’s photos of Galway people, scenery and buildings have garnered over 8,000 followers on his Facebook page, ‘Galway Faces & Places’.

He has now been approached by the developers of Bonham Quay to use 500 images as part of a hoarding around the massive €105 million development creating office space, retail and restaurant units.

Pat has advised members of the public whose photos he has taken to let him know if they are unwilling to be featured in the ‘people wall’.

“I have literally taken thousands of pictures of Galway people – it could be as many as 14,000 people – and I tell them it’s for my website and get their permission,” he explains.

“But it would be madness to try and get 500 signatures for this. Since I told people about it on the website, I’ve had 400 positive affirmations and only one man declined to be involved and that’s fair enough. It will be a random selection of people – as many well-known people as I can get.”

Pat, a native of Raleigh Row who now lives in Mervue, was a salesman in O’Connors TV & Video outlet for 25 years before moving to O’Shaughnessy’s Audiovision and Peter Murphy Electrical prior to his retirement.

It was following an unfortunate accident while on holiday in Australia to visit his son who lived in Perth that his passion for photography really took hold.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, 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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

At least 240 Galway City Airbnbs flouting planning rules

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – At least 240 short-stay apartments and houses in Galway City are operating without planning permission, according to local authority estimates.

However, former mayor Niall McNelis has said he believes the real figure is “far higher”, while Green Party councillor Pauline O’Reilly said Airbnb is “destroying our city”.

Under legislation introduced last July, the owners of some Airbnb-type rental properties must apply for planning permission – where they fall within certain criteria – because the city is classed as a Rent Pressure Zone.

For any property which is a second or subsequent home (not the owner’s home) which is used for short-term letting, a ‘change of use’ planning application is required “for the purpose of residential short-term letting/B&B”.

Since the law was passed, Galway City Council has received just three change of use planning applications for short-term lets.

The Council’s own estimate is that there are 1,200 properties in the city that come under the short-term letting umbrella. It estimates that only 720 of these are ‘active’, and of those some 480 are exempt from the new legislation.

That means, according to the Council’s own estimate, that 240 properties in the city are operating without planning permission in breach of the legislation.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, 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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Four-fold increase in homeless children

Stephen Corrigan

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Emergency 'Cold Weather Response' accommodation for being provided by COPE Galway and the City Council at Seamus Quirke Road.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City councillors gave their backing to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy this week, despite being told that the numbers of families and children homeless in the region had sky-rocketed by more than 300% in three years.

At a meeting of the local authority on Monday evening, the Draft Region Homelessness Action Plan 2020-2022 was presented to councillors, in which it was revealed that in terms of homelessness, the West is worst – since 2016, the region had the highest increase in the country.

Three years ago, some 130 adults were accessing homeless services through emergency accommodation. In August of this year, that figure had risen to 351.

The number of homeless families stood at 17 in 2016; this year, that figure was at 83 by the end of September.

Some 200 children were homeless at the end of August 2019, a 344% increase on the 47 who were without a home in 2016.

The report notes that 30 people were sleeping rough in Galway City in October, while there were 251 homeless adults in the city by the end of the third quarter – 146 males; 76 families; and 185 dependents.

A series of actions are set out by the plan, with homelessness prevention at the top of the list. This comprises of ensuring early intervention for high-risk categories, including: prison discharges; young people exiting care; hospital discharges; people exiting direct provision; and victims of domestic violence.

The Mayor and Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF) both described the new Housing Task Force established in Galway – which does not include any elected representatives – as a farce, with the Mayor hitting out at the arrogance of the Minister for Housing in saying that things were improving.

“You’ve a situation where you’ve kids going to school and their news of the day is that they’ve moved to a new B&B – and they’re being laughed at in class,” blasted the Mayor.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage of the issue, 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.

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