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Shoppers spend €120m in city over festive period

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Shoppers will have spent more than €120 million in Galway City over the Christmas and January sales – just marginally up on what was spent during the same period last year.

Footfall was definitely up in the city, something city businesses know for sure thanks to a new system used at the Christmas Continental Market which counted 607,000 people walking through Eyre Square during the four weeks, which probably translates to at least 210,000 people visiting the event on average three times each.

Retailer Anthony Ryan, Chairman of the Galway City Business Association, which represents businesses in the city centre, said they were quite happy with their trade performance, one that was predicted nationally by the Retail Excellence Ireland group, which represents retailers all over the country.

It is estimated that about €60m was spent in the city in the run-up to Christmas – that includes the city centre and shopping centres and retail parks across the city – and the same again is expected to be spent by the end of the sales towards the end of January.

“We knew people would continue to be cautious when it came to spending and you can’t blame them but we are happy that Galway performed on trend and that there was a marginal increase, probably 2% to 3%, on what was spent in the city at Christmas and the sales last year.

“The bad storms affected us last year and though we had windy and wet weather for the last week of the Christmas Market, the Saturday before Christmas was one of our strongest days and last Saturday, too, was particularly busy. Despite inclement weather on St Stephen’s Day, a good number of people turned out for the start of the sales.

“The retail sector had bottomed out in the past few years because of the recession, but we predict some growth and there’s a definite trend where more spending is expected nationally. The retail sector is always one of the hardest hit in recession and we knew that it would take a while for spending to trickle down to us. I am personally optimistic about the future and I often say to other retailers and our own staff here that we’re not doing too badly,” said Mr Ryan.

Retail Excellence Ireland, which surveyed 300 retailers across the country, noted that despite the positive economic outlook, consumer spending had been softer than expected and was only marginally up on the same period last year. As a result, retailers were offering major discounts post Christmas.

Discount or no discount, a number of shops will always attract a sales crowd because of gift cards and vouchers bought there as Christmas presents.

For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain

The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir

The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete

Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.

Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.

Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.

Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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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