An unofficial embargo on staff recruitment is underway at Galway City Council – because money earmarked for more front-line workers has been diverted to deal with the local homelessness crisis and housing shortage.
All 18 city councillors voted in favour of taking some €280,000 from City Hall’s revenue budget in 2019, to put towards city homeless services.
Dermot Mahon, acting Director of Services for Housing, told elected members, in response to a query from Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind), that the cutbacks to pay for additional homeless funds would come from the “payroll sector”. He said that there would be a delay in recruiting Council staff that had been earmarked for certain areas.
“No frontline projects or services will be affected,” said Mr Mahon, whose report said the money would be sourced from “saving across the revenue budget”.
He explained that the approved budget for homeless services in the West this year was €5.822m. By July, some 91% of it (€5.2m) had been spent.
“It is envisaged that an additional €4m is required to fund homeless services to the end of 2019,” he said, adding that 90% of this extra spend was recoupable from Government.
The remaining 10% is to be paid by local authorities in the West, and €280,000 was Galway City Council’s share of that.
Cllr Niall McNelis said the City Council was spending €350,000 per month on housing homeless people in city hotels and hostels. “It’s getting worse,” he said.
Cllr Collette Connolly (Ind) said families are being split up by the homeless crisis. “Women are told to go to COPE, the men go to the Fairgreen,” she said. “I know one mother who three weeks after giving birth had to change hotels. Children aren’t within schools’ catchment. That’s the reality of this,” she said.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he was aware of one family who have been living in emergency accommodation for three years.
Cllr John Connolly (FF) said the Fine Gael-led Government, which is being kept in power by his party, was completely out of touch on the issue of housing and homelessness; and he urged party leader Micheál Martin to collapse the Coalition and spark a general election.
Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said the Government had taken steps to rectify the problem, including introducing Rent Pressure Zones. He said many landlords are fleeing the market because it’s not worth their while once mortgages are paid and the taxman takes his share of the profits.
Gardaí issue warning on ‘movie money’
Gardaí have warned of an increase in ‘novelty’ euro notes – which are almost identical to real currency – in circulation.
The notes are usually marked ‘movie money’ or ‘prop money’, but this can often go unnoticed by the person handling it. They do not have any security features.
Revenue Officers have seized notes in varying denominations representing a value of €430,895 in recent mail centre detections.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: “People need to be aware that such notes exist and at busy times, especially late at night, they need to exercise a little care and attention.
“These notes are easily identifiable if precautionary checks are made. Also people who try to tender such notes as real face prosecution, a possible prison sentence and a conviction, which is for life. Such convictions have serious ramifications if one wanted to travel, to work in certain sectors and it can affect their credit rating”.
“We advise businesses and members of the public who deal in cash to be aware that such notes are in circulation and take appropriate precautionary measures. Business owners should ensure staff members handling cash are alerted to watch out for these fraudulent notes.
“The use of fraudulent currency when trying to purchase goods or services is an offence under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 and carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years.
“These fraudulent notes should not be accepted as legal tender and any incidents of persons trying to pay with “prop money” should be reported to Gardaí immediately,” said Det Supt Cryan.
Fire at site of former Corrib Great Southern Hotel
Emergency services are at the scene of a large fire at the site of the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel which broke out in the early hours of this morning.
Four units of the Galway Fire and Rescue Service were called to the former hotel near GMIT at 5.45am. A unit from Athenry is also in attendance at the scene.
Fire fighters are maintaining a presence at the derelict hotel, which has been the scene of a number of arson attacks over the past number of years.
Three refused bail on violent disorder charges
Three men who were arrested this morning as part of a Garda investigation into violent disorder at a funeral in Mervue last year, have been denied bail by a District Court Judge.
Denis Hannafin, Curry; Robbie Hannafin, Corboy, Edgeworthstown and Tommy Hannafin, Dublin Road – all in Longford – were charged with violent disorder in connection with an incident which occurred outside Holy Family funeral home on in January 13 last year.
Detective Garda Ronan Leonard told the court this morning that CCTV footage showed a number of members of the Hannafin family outside the funeral home on January 13, 2019, at approximately 3.15pm, when a number of members of the McGinley family made their way towards them.
An altercation ensued, which resulted in one member of the McGinley family suffering a gunshot wound, while another received a stab wound to the back. A third man suffered acid wounds.
Gardaí explained that there is a feud going on between the two families, which began when juvenile members of the families got into a fight at a pool hall.
Detective Leonard voiced concerns that if the three accused were granted bail, they would commit further offences and intimidate members of the McGinley family.
Judge Seamus Hughes had remanded the three accused in custody to Harristown District Court next Friday, February 28.