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Survey reveals 36 shut premises in Ballinasloe town centre

Declan Tierney

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Three empty premises side by side in Ballinasloe town centre.

The officially-designated county town of Galway has 36 prime business units vacant – indicating that any signs of an economic recovery have not filtered out to the rural parts.
Ballinasloe has been designated as the county town of Galway but a weekend survey reveals that it is certainly not reaping the benefits.
There are now 27 shop units with their shutters down while nine pubs are no longer trading. One closed as recently as last weekend.
It is a nightmare scenario for Ballinasloe which lost hundreds of jobs in recent years with the closure of some high profile manufacturing industries like AT Cross and Square D.
Recently, a senior IDA official attended a meeting of the local Municipal Council and did not offer huge hopes of any significant new jobs being created in the town.
But the revelation that there are now almost 40 business premises unoccupied in and around the town centre in Ballinasloe is sure to come as a wake-up call for local business leaders.
The survey was conducted by the Connacht Tribune along the three main streets which meet at the roundabout in the centre of the town – Dunlo Street, Main Street and Society Street.
The results do not provide confidence for the other town centre business interests – with a lot of the blame being put on the development of out-of-town retail units such as Tesco, Aldi and Lidl.
Chairman of Ballinasloe Municipal Council, Cllr. Michael Finnerty said that it was high time that the Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD) woke up to the crisis and tried to address it.
“We are looking at a situation that the shutters could come down on a lot more business premises unless the situation is addressed.
“As a council we are trying to relax the paid parking situation and we feel that this will go some way towards helping out existing businesses,” Cllr Finnerty added.
While the survey in Ballinasloe was conducted in and around the town centre, Cllr Finnerty said that there were several more business premises on the outskirts which were also closed down.

CITY TRIBUNE

Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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

GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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