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Residents’ living hell in unfinished Galway housing estate

Enda Cunningham

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Residents of an unfinished housing estate in Craughwell are living with raw sewage flowing out of their toilets, and rats ‘the size of cats’ in their gardens.

And a HSE public health worker refused to allow a manhole cover be lifted on the estate because the pungent smell was so overpowering.

It has also been discovered that the sewerage system is close to overflowing on the roadways.

A report on the estate is currently being prepared by the HSE for consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency.

People living on the Dún Árd estate off the main road in the town have been battling for the past decade to have their estate finished after Harrmack Developments went into liquidation.

One homeowner has had to install a special pump to stop the overflow of raw sewage in their downstairs toilet – which now ends up in a soakpit under a common green in the estate because of a problem with the treatment plant.

Local area councillor Anne Rabbitte described conditions in the estate as “deplorable”.

“A number of residents have actual raw sewage coming into their homes from their downstairs toilets, which has left other residents living in fear of the same happening to them, meaning they have had to stop using facilities downstairs altogether.

“Residents have also reported that the waste has attracted rats the size of cats, which can be seen running around some back gardens.

“These are families – many with young children – living in a completely unacceptable situation. The health and safety risks involved are innumerable and it simply cannot be allowed to continue,” said Cllr Rabbitte.

She claimed the developers had been ordered by the court to carry out remedial works, but these have not occurred.

“The residents of Dún Árd are still in a living nightmare with no signs of waking up. This is 2015, how can this be allowed to happen?

“One house had to install a pump the in order to remove the raw sewage. Last week, two other householders got blockages and they are unable to flush their downstairs toilets.

“One got a drain cleaner to call out and it was confirmed to him that sewerage pipes which are 10ft deep are close to overflowing on the roadways,” said Cllr Rabbitte.

She added that a HSE worker called to the estate earlier this month to inspect the sewerage and rat problems.

“She refused for the man holes to be opened as the smell was so strong and she was in fear that a rat would hop out. Her report will be sent to the EPA.

“There is raw sewage flowing out of the top of the sewerage plant and this is flowing down to the river.

“Dun Ard in an estate in crisis, these residents have been failed. They are being forced to live in deplorable conditions. It’s now up to the HSE and EPA to assist in highlighting the plight of the residents,” said Cllr Rabbitte.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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