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Students help homeless before they head home!

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This week sees thousands of third-level students depart Galway, with the last exam wrapped up – many of them dreading the thought of throwing out all those needless bits and bobs accumulated over the year.

But their clean-out burden can be lessened by NUI Galway’s Rover Society, which has come up with a way to help the homeless and departing students at the same time.

The quick-thinking society is passing on unwanted items to those who desperately need it with by hosting collections in student accommodation hotspots around the city.

From now until May 20, students and the public alike can stop off at a designated collection point and leave their items to be enjoyed by those in need.

Clothing, raingear, non-perishable foods, socks, footwear, blankets duvets, arts materials, books and DVDs are just some of the many items which can be donated for use.

“We are absolutely delighted with the response we have received so far,” said Rover Soc’s Projects Officer Fionn Delahunty.

“We’ve taken in countless boxes amounting to over 50 bin bags worth of useable items within the last three weeks. We’ve drawn in the assistance of over 20 core Rover Soc volunteers, in addition to great support from the university,” he added.

Collection points include many spots within NUI Galway’s campus, including the Students’ Union Shop and Office, Smokie’s Café and the Engineering Building. Other areas include Corrib Village, Gort na Coiribe and Menlo Park Apartments.

Certain areas were of particular interest to the Rover Soc, as volunteers were street smart in choosing their pick up spots.

“In Gort na Coiribe, students are required to bring and take away their own duvets,” explained Fionn.

“That means that around 100 duvets are dumped every semester from the complex. We knew that targeting this area would mean securing such much needed basics for the homeless, while recycling at the same time,” he said.

All items will be donated to COPE Galway’s homelessness service.

“We are delighted with the efforts made by NUI Galway’s Rover Society,” said Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway.

“These are items that people may otherwise struggle to get due to being homeless, and are of invaluable worth to those who we work with. The ongoing generosity of students in Galway is really appreciated and makes a big difference to the services that we can provide.”

The Rover Society is aimed at those who are currently involved in Scouts and Guides clubs, or for those who have no experience but would like a taster of the scouting world.

Though their main ambitions involve outdoor pursuits, the society is no stranger in getting charitable.

Last year, they made headlines collecting over a whopping 1,000 sleeping bags at the Electric Picnic festival for the homeless in Galway.

The astounding feat came as part of the society’s “Festival Phase” which involves volunteers heading to the end of big events and collecting what may have otherwise been thrown away.

The group also collected almost 40 pop-up tents at last year’s Sea Sessions event, which they then cleaned, recycled and sold at an affordable price to students.

This festival season, the society has high hopes in their bids to get the idea of reusing and recycling spinning.

“We are hitting many events this summer, and Electric Picnic will again be one of them,” said Fionn.

“We want to build on the amount of sleeping bags we received last month – and hopefully double or even triple what we received!”

CITY TRIBUNE

Council on standby for Storm Jorge flooding

Enda Cunningham

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Galway City Council crews will be on standby from Saturday afternoon as Storm Jorge is set to hit the West coast, bringing very strong winds, rain and potential for flooding.

The Council’s Severe Weather Assessment Team met today and will be holding meetings tomorrow and Saturday to monitor the weather forecast and put in place a plan to deal with any potential flooding or wind damage.

Storm Jorge – which was named by Spanish meteorological services and adopted by Met Éireann and the UK’s Met Office to avoid confusion – will see a Status Orange wind warning in place from 6am Saturday to 3am Sunday. A Status Yellow rain warning will be in place in Galway from midnight tonight until midnight Saturday.

The storm will bring southwest, veering west and later northwest winds with means speeds of 65-80km/h and gusts of 110-130km/h.

Rainfall accumulations of 20 to 30mm are expected and Met Éireann has warned of an increased risk of coastal flooding.

The City Council will have crews on standby from 2pm on Saturday and will close the two public carparks in Salthill if it is considered necessary.

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Connacht Tribune

Council staff under pressure from worsening flooding

Enda Cunningham

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A lack of local authority outdoor staff available to deal with the huge rainfall level over the past week has led to the closure of roads around County Galway, it was claimed this week.

At a meeting of Galway County Council on Monday, a senior local authority official admitted that staff have been ‘stretched’.

Rising water tables and heavy rainfall has resulted in road closures around the county, but according to the Council, there are no houses under threat at the moment.

Iarnród Éireann has also introduced bus transfers on the Galway-Limerick line because of rising water levels at Kiltartan.

The volume of rainfall resulted in road closures, while flooding on the N83 (the old N17) between Tuam and Galway resulted in three-mile tailbacks at Two Mile Ditch – journey times were more than two hours in some cases.

Cllr Joe Byrne told the Council meeting this week that there are not enough outdoor staff on the ground to keep the water tables at a level that would not require roads to be closed.

He was supported by Cllr Jim Cuddy, who said that workers with spades and shovels were required to keep the water tables under control and there was a need to increase outdoor staff at this time of year.

The Independent councillor said that he had heard of some people being stuck in traffic for three hours as they approached the city from the Headford Road and Tuam Road directions.

However, Council Director of Services for Infrastructure, Jim Cullen, said that all of the outdoor staff vacancies had been filled.

Mr Cullen explained that the number of outdoor staff employed by the Council was dependent on the roads budget made available to the local authority on an annual basis.

Council Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell explained that their staff had been stretched over recent days in what where very difficult conditions.

“Nobody has been found wanting. It is not easy,” Mr Mitchell admitted.

(Picture shows a generator being brought to a house at Cloonacauneen this week to help pump flood waters. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the flooding around the county (including photographs), see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Connacht Tribune

Council pays €3m for land for social housing in Claregalway

Declan Tierney

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Galway County Council has forked out almost €3 million – more than €400,000 per acre – for development land in Claregalway which it has earmarked for social and affordable housing.

At a local authority meeting this week, some councillors expressed disbelief at the amount paid by the Council for the 7.2 acres.

Local elected representatives expressed frustration and annoyance that they had not been made aware of the purchase until after the deal was done.

Director of Services for Housing, Michael Owens, told a meeting of the County Council on Monday that the lands had been acquired on the open market in the townland Droim na Gaoithe and this will be development for social and affordable housing. He said that a valuer had been engaged for this purpose.

An irate Cllr Jim Cuddy said that as the most local elected representative, he was not aware of the land acquisition. He said that he was not aware of when it was purchased or how much had been paid for it.

The Independent councillor said that the population increase experienced in Claregalway in recent years required the provision of a playground, while he added that there was an urgent need for additional cemetery space as there were just two plots remaining in the existing graveyard.

“It is crazy that more than €406,000 an acre was spent on land for a housing scheme [affordable housing] that doesn’t exist. The County Council would have serious questions to ask if this matter came before a Dáil Public Accounts Committee,” Cllr Cuddy said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of the paper here.

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