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Sinn Féin group hold protest against Local Property Tax

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BY CIARAN TIERNEY

 A small group of Sinn Féin activists staged a protest outside Galway County Hall yesterday to express their on-going opposition to the Local Property Tax.

The demonstration was timed to raise awareness of a repeal bill, aiming to reverse the charge, which the party is set to put before the Dail over the next two days.

A spokesman, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, said the reported compliance rate of about 90% prior to last month’s deadline should not mask the fact that significant portion of the population is completely against the tax.

He said that many people only registered out of fear that Revenue had been granted “draconian powers” to access their wages and bank accounts.

“This bill is to repeal the Household Tax. It’s the earliest possible chance Sinn Féin have had to try and have this tax repealed. People still can’t afford to pay this tax. If they do have the money taken out of their accounts, it’s going to mean having to cut short in other areas of household expenditure or their mortgages,” he said.

“I think when people see the likes of the Google and Facebook debacles, with corporation tax not being collected from multinational corporations, they are very angry at being asked again and again to pay taxes that they don’t have. They only registered out of pure and absolute fear, because of bullyboy tactics on behalf of Revenue and the Government.”

He said the protest was held at Galway County Hall to highlight how services provided by local authorities have been decimated while the Government slashes services in order to bailout bank bondholders.

“Local authorities across the State are being held to ransom by an incumbent Government obsessed with their own austerity agenda. Local councils have seen their budgets slashed with local services and local communities paying the price,” he said.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh called on people in Galway to lobby their local TDs to vote in favour of Sinn Féin’s repeal bill this week.

While he admitted the party’s bill had little chance of succeeding this week, he said it was important to keep the debate going about how people on low incomes should not be forced to pay for the misdeeds of bankers and developers.

“The Government are facing into their next Budget in October. They are looking at other options to hammer ordinary people, because they are paying off all of the bondholders in full.

We need to remind them that people are in dire straits,” he added.

Opponents of the new property tax have already vowed to run candidates in next year’s local elections in Galway.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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