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Simon warns of ‘shocking’ increase in street teens

Denise McNamara

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There has been a “shocking” rise in the numbers of children, teenagers and vulnerable young people wandering the streets of Galway in search of a place to sleep, according to the Galway Simon Community.

The age profile of those accessing the homeless charity’s resettlement programmes has dropped considerably in the past two years, with nearly half of people presenting for help now aged between 18 and 25.

“That wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. Mid-way last year we decided we urgently needed to focus on that group or you were looking at a situation where they would drift into becoming the long-term homeless of the future,” explained CEO Bill Griffin.

A complex myriad of issues need to be tackled as well as sourcing accommodation. Many of these youths suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction or come from abusive homes while others have learning difficulties and serious ongoing medical conditions. Some have been abandoned after coming out of the care system.

“The problem is, no matter what a person’s personal history is – and no matter what their emotional or psychological needs are – from the moment they turn 18 they are treated as adults and are suddenly expected to fend for themselves,” exclaimed Mr Griffin.

“The vulnerable young people have no home to go to and no family to turn to. And, with no jobs and constant cuts in social welfare and support services, they simply cannot cope and are falling into a life of homelessness and despair.”

The charity has launched an urgent appeal to households for funds to renovate four apartments purchased by Galway City Council under a new project called Fresh Start planned to begin in September targeted at young people. The project involves various agencies, such as Jigsaw, the Galway Youth Diocesan Services and St Vincent De Paul.

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

Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley

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Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley

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Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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