Local volunteers with the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) are warning that high interest moneylenders are ‘as active as ever’ in communities across Galway.
The society is urging anyone who is struggling – particularly with fuel and food this Christmas – to avoid getting into debt and reach out to the organisation if they need help.
“Using moneylenders is a practice SVP advises people to avoid if they can,” said a spokesman for the charity in Galway.
“Our members in Galway say that moneylenders are as active as ever. However, there are fewer families being helped by SVP who are using moneylenders.”
The charity recommends that families check out the Personal Micro-Credit (PMC) scheme which was specifically designed as an alternative to moneylenders and is offered to social welfare recipients and low-income households.
Also known as ‘It Makes Sense’ loans, they allow people to repay through the Household Budget Scheme administered by An Post or by a direct debit, building up their credit rating and giving access to more affordable credit.
If somebody takes out a €500 “It Makes Sense” loan, repaid over six months with an APR of 12.68% they will be charged interest of €15.84.
The same loan from a licensed moneylender at a rate of 187.2% APR – a very common rate for so-called ‘doorstep loans’ – will command €150 in interest.
“Many of the families we visit will struggle to make ends meet this Christmas and some will consider borrowing money to meet the extra expenses they face at this time of year,” SVP national president Kieran Stafford said.
“Being able to access affordable credit, rather than loans with extremely high interest rates is essential if families are to avoid becoming over-indebted.”
The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) also urged people to shun high interest moneylenders at all costs.
“Should they need to borrow, they should speak to their credit unions in the first instance where Christmas loans are straightforward, interest rates are capped by law and credit unions will work with their members to structure repayments in a way that suits their individual circumstances,” spokeswoman Lonán Paul of the Irish League of Credit Unions told the Galway City Tribune.
She stressed that 15 credit unions across Galway (including four in the city) are involved in the PMC scheme, which currently has 6,000 live loans.
“The long-term aim of the PMC is to graduate borrowers on the PMC to standard lending and ultimately to financial health and independence. Applicants for the loan do not already have to be members of the credit union once they live or work in the area.
“Loans issued under the scheme can be for any purpose. Credit unions exist solely to meet their members’ needs – they are not for profit institutions – and always stand ready and willing to offer affordable credit – with loans at reasonable rates, capped by law, unlike moneylenders.”
This week Retail Ireland predicted that Irish households will spend an average of €2,690 this Christmas, which is a 3% increase on the average spend last year and €866 more than any other month of the year.
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.