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CITY TRIBUNE

Rice cookers removed from Direct Provision Centre rooms

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An official inspection of the Direct Provision centre in Salthill found cooking appliances in several bedrooms of the accommodation for asylum seekers.

The annual inspection of the Eglinton in Salthill, by the International Protection Procurement Services, on behalf of the State, highlighted some issues for Maplestar Ltd, the operator of the accommodation, to resolve.

The inspection took place in November 2020, and the report was released by the Department of Justice to Galway City Tribune last week.

The hotel can accommodate 210 at capacity; on the day of the inspection there were 143 people living there, including families and single women.

No visitors were allowed at the centre during Covid-19, according to the report.

Meals are provided at the centre, but the report highlighted that a number of residents used their own cooking facilities in their bedrooms, which was against house rules.

During the inspection rice cookers were found in five bedrooms. In a letter of response to the inspector, management at the Eglinton outlined that it had rectified a number of issues, including removing rice cookers from bedrooms.

One resident “was informed of the dangers of cooking in the room and cooker was removed by management”, according to the response.

The report notes that meals prepared by a chef employed by the centre are served three times a day. Lunches for schoolchildren are also provided and there is access to snacks outside of the centre’s breakfast, lunch and dinner hours.

Some other mostly cosmetic issues in relation to rooms were mentioned by the inspector, and were subsequently dealt with, according to management.

A previous annual inspection report in 2019 had also highlighted that cooking facilities were being used in some of the bedrooms in the hotel.

“I can understand that even if you did have communal cooking facilities why you would be tempted to use other things in your own space. It’s very sad. I actually get shivers even thinking about it because people can be in Direct Provision for long periods of time,” said Galway-based senator, Pauline O’Reilly.

“Particularly for families, but also for single people, you have to have some element of privacy. When you look at human rights, people do have an entitlement. So even in the best-case scenario in these communal settings with a communal kitchen that’s not what families should have to survive. It could be a case that you’re not getting on with other people, all kinds of social issues arise when you’re living with people for a long period of time.”

She said that abolishing Direct Provision was a top priority of the Green Party in Government, and had brought forward a white paper on it. She wants “own-door accommodation”

“The timeline to get this done over the lifetime of the Government will be a challenge. Obviously, that’s the commitment and that’s one of the key things for us,” said Senator O’Reilly.

“We have to be careful in any conversation around this not to be pitting people against each other. I don’t think that is the reality. Actually, the numbers in Direct Provision are relatively low in the overall population. And so, it should be achievable [to end DP] in terms of housing.

“The whole purpose of the plan is that people who can afford to pay, will pay for their housing. It’s not a case of everybody gets something for free. It’s a case-by-case basis just like it is with anyone else in the population.

“Whether you pay or not will depend on your means. You could be coming from areas of conflict where people have very high skill levels but they’re fleeing conflict or disaster zones,” she added.

The Department of Justice confirmed that phasing out of Direct Provision had commenced.

“Emergency accommodation is being phased out. This accommodation is not suitable for long-term use, and comes with a high degree of congregation. Single people who do not know each other can end up sharing rooms. Good progress has been made in terms of closing emergency accommodation this year and moving residents into accommodation with better standards,” it said.

The Department also pointed to a number of other short-term improvements.

Asylum seekers can now open Irish bank accounts, which was not the case up until this year.

A spokesperson said that secondary school students living in DP no longer have to pay international fees when applying for post-leaving cert and third level courses; they pay the same rates as Irish students.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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