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Social care workers owed €7.5m by HSE



Around 400 social care workers in Galway and Roscommon are owed €7.5 million from the Health Service Executive (HSE) for unpaid wages stretching back over a decade.

The HSE has acknowledged that it owes the money to workers, and has been directed by Labour Court to pay its debts. But it is refusing to make the payments and clear its debts, claiming an inability to pay.

Trade unions IMPACT and SIPTU are demanding that the HSE honour its commitment to the social care workers who look after people with disabilities in the communities.

The social care workers and leaders have been working with Brothers of Charity Services and Ability West. They used to be known as ‘Old House Parents’.

At a Labour Court hearing last week, the HSE accepted that about 400 workers in Galway and Roscommon are entitled to what’s known as Twilight Premium Time payments, which is time and one sixth extra for working between 8pm and midnight.

The outstanding bill is about €7.5 million.

The HSE has previously said it would honour the debt but at the Labour Court hearing it said it would pay the monies going forward but it equivocated over its ability to pay the historic arrears.

The HSE said it could not sustain the costs, and if they paid it, the organisation faces “greater financial difficulties”.

The HSE has paid in full other categories including managers, nurses and care assistants; they withheld the Twilight Payments from social care workers however.

Recently, the HSE in Dublin reimbursed social care workers in three organisations, Home Again Traveller, Families Care and Cottage Home for Little Children.

IMPACT in Galway says it is completely unacceptable that the HSE continues to withhold monies from social care workers in Galway and Roscommon.

“Only a heartless organisation without a soul would continue to treat social care workers in such a heartless and completely unacceptable manner,” said Padraig Mulligan, assistant general secretary of IMPACT.

He added: “The HSE have told us that they do not have the monies to pay these arrears and that paying Twilight Premium Time going forward is the best they can do. This is not an acceptable position as far as we are concerned particularly in light of the fact that last week they just paid all back monies to agencies in Dublin.”

IMPACT and SIPTU is hosting two meetings for workers who are affected by the HSE’s decision to withhold the monies. One meeting will take place in Clayton Hotel, Galway, on Thursday, March 26 at 12 noon to 3pm; and there will be a meeting in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon, on Wednesday, April 1, from 12 noon to 3pm.


Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport



From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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