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Connacht Tribune

Tenants protest over ‘eviction’ ahead of redevelopment

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Eviction orders are to be issued against a number of householders in Tuam who are steadfastly refusing to move out of a Council estate which is set for an €8 million facelift.

It is understood that the residents, who are all Council tenants, are unhappy with the alternative accommodation that the local authority is providing for them and want more spacious dwellings.

Galway County Council’s plans to regenerate Gilmartin Road in Tuam involve the demolition of around 30 existing dwellings and the development of 40 houses in their place.

The estate has been mainly occupied by members of the Travelling community over the years who are now being relocated to other estates around but there are some who are ‘digging their heels in’.

It is the intention of Galway County Council to create a ‘new estate’ in which new two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses will be provided that will accommodate young couples, single occupants or small families in the town.

Cllr Donagh Killilea said that it was a move in the right direction in that it would change the whole fabric of Gilmartin Road and would create a totally new environment of young families to enjoy.

“I know that Galway County Council are dealing with a number of families who are refusing to leave and have presented various demands on the local authority that that cannot be accommodated.

“But hopefully these issues can be resolved or else the Council will be left with no option but to seek eviction orders as this development has to take place. The money for this regeneration is available”, Cllr Killilea added.

It is understood that the contract for the regeneration works cannot be signed off unless the street is vacated. Works are expected to commence by mid-October and will be completed within 16 months.

Tender documents were issued for the €8 million redevelopment of the mainly Council estate and it attracted a lot of interest from a number of local builders who have experienced the building slump in recent years and are anxious to win some major projects.

With very little building going on in the county’s rural towns at the moment, it is little wonder that some of the more established building contractors are anxious to successfully negotiate this particular housing project.

When completed, it will result in a complete transformation of Gilmartin Road with the construction of 40 new houses and the refurbishment of more than 20 others as part of the biggest development ever to take place since the estate was built in the 1950s.

The proposed redevelopment involves the demolition of 30 existing houses on Gilmartin Road and the construction of 40 new houses, consisting of two and three bedroom homes, along with the demolition of a house on Cloonthue Road and the landscaping of the whole area.

This means that many of the existing tenants will be relocated elsewhere in the town and that has created its own difficulties.

Some have refused to move unless they get accommodation that meets their requirements. This is despite the fact that they are local authority tenants.

If the tenants in Gilmartin Road in Tuam refuse to move, then they will be faced with eviction orders which have to be processed through the courts, which do not reconvene until September.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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