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CITY TRIBUNE

School resumes for kids with learning difficulties

Denise McNamara

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Good news: Zoe Hynes looks set for return to school.

Beleaguered parents are hopeful that their children with severe learning difficulties will be able to return to Rosedale School in Renmore next month – but they are still awaiting guidelines around social distancing.

Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, announced there would be an extended summer programme for children with special needs and students in DEIS or disadvantaged schools following an outcry from parents as first reported in the Galway City Tribune.

Summer Provision 2020 will have in-school or home-based supports by teachers and special needs assistants to prevent regression for pupils with autism or severe and profound learning difficulties.

The programme will also be opened up to children transitioning from early years into a special class in primary school or special school and for primary school pupils in mainstream classes who present with Down Syndrome, students who are deaf or hard of hearing, children with severe visual impairment, children with a moderate general learning disability or those diagnosed with a severe emotional behavioural difficulty.

It will also fund a numeracy and literacy programme in summer camps in the 890 DEIS schools. The HSE will thirdly provide summer camp-style support for 1,200 children with complex needs.

He promised that school transport will be provided and the Schools Meals Programme will return.

Parents at Rosedale have yet to get definitive confirmation that classes will return next month, said Angelina Hynes, mother of Zoe and chairperson of the school’s parents’ association.

“The school is still waiting for details on the Covid-19 guidelines on social distancing but we’re very hopeful it will reopen. The principal is liaising with the Department of Education and doing a lot of work in the background,” she stated.

“I can’t speak for other schools and of course it depends on getting SNAs and teachers to work but we’re very hopeful our children can go at least two or three days a week for four weeks. We all drew a breath and were very relieved last Friday on the announcement.”

The parents had written to local TDs in their campaign for the school to hold classes for the 47 pupils of the facility run by the Brothers of Charity.

Minister McHugh said the Government is determined to support families who have felt the deepest impact from the closure of schools.

“Summer Provision 2020 is a significant expansion of support for the children and families who are most in need. The aim is to help address the concerns that families are feeling over the loss of in-school time and learning for children with special needs and those at greatest risk of disadvantage.”

A dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs to access Summer Provision is now open HERE.

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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