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Top Galway businessman takes on bank

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A row between a well-known Co Galway-based businessman and Ulster Bank may put ‘jobs at risk’, the High Court was told this week.

Former Entrepreneur of the Year John Flaherty has brought proceedings against the Bank who he claims has wrongly put a charge on four houses which he says one of his firms needs to sell to complete the purchase of other lands.

BY AODHAN O FAOLAIN

Mr Flaherty is president and CEO of the C&F Group, headquartered at Athenry, and employs 400 people locally and hundreds more worldwide. The group provides manufacturing services to the IT, motor and refrigeration industries and makes wind turbines also has facilities in China, the US, Germany and the UK.

He is seeking a High Court injunction compelling Ulster Bank to remove a charge over property located at Woodfield, Tuam.

Mr Flaherty of Casla, Athenry, says the houses are not subject to a charge, having paid some €2.4m for the Tuam site more than a decade ago.

He said he serviced sites on the land which were sold on to various builders. He also constructed a number of houses on the land for his own use.

Due to the recession he was unable to sell the last four remaining houses on the site.  Last October he secured buyers for the properties, but discovered that Ulster Bank has a put charge over the houses.

Mr Flaherty claims the bank does not hold any charge over the houses, and through his solicitor Owen Swaine wrote to the bank requesting it to vacate the charge.

While the Bank said it would investigate the matter, it has not removed the charge.  Mr Flaherty says there is an urgency to the matter as he needs the proceeds from the sale of the houses to complete the purchase of 70 acres of land at another location.

The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Gilligan at the High Court who heard that, unknown to Mr Flaherty, the lands at the centre of the dispute have been put up as security for borrowings made by a third party, who sold the site to Mr Flaherty .

Michael O’Connor BL, for Mr Flaherty, said his client purchased the Tuam lands from a third party for a sum of €2.4m. The land was then developed as housing before being sold off.

Counsel said it was then agreed the title of the lands in Tuam would remain in the name of the third party.  Mr Flaherty was the beneficial owner of the land, counsel said.

Counsel said his client fears if he cannot sell the houses in Tuam the other deal cannot be closed – and that deal must be completed within the coming weeks.

Any failure to complete that deal would leave Mr Flaherty open to other litigation and he will lose a deposit he has already paid, counsel said.

If his client was to lose out counsel said a threat to the employment Mr Falherty provides cannot be ruled out.  “Jobs could be put at risk,” counsel told the court.  Counsel added Mr Flaherty believes the charge asserted by Ulster Bank is ‘a mistake’.

Stephen Byrne BL, for Ulster Bank, said the businessman’s application for an injunction could not go ahead as it was mandatory in nature.  Counsel asked the court for an adjournment to allow it respond to Mr Flaherty’s claims.

Counsel added his instructions from the Bank were the houses in Tuam were put up as security in 2014 by the third party from whom the lands were acquired from.

Counsel said the bank sought additional security from the third party when that person sought to refinance existing borrowings with the bank.

In reply, Mr O’Connor said that was ‘news to us’. Mr O’Connor also told the court his side would consider adding the third party to the proceedings.

The Judge agreed to adjourn the matter to a date in February to allow a number of matters in relation to the dispute, including issues and documents concern the sale of the land in Tuam, be clarified.

CITY TRIBUNE

‘Horrific’ conditions at ‘temporary’ halting site

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Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road.
Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road. [File pic]

Living conditions at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site on the Headford Road are “truly dreadful” and “distressing”, according to four University of Galway academics.

The quartet, who visited the halting site earlier this month, called on the authorities to provide “decent and culturally appropriate accommodation” for the 13 families living at the ‘temporary’ site, “as a matter of urgency”.

The call comes in the same week a former city mayor was sharply criticised for promoting ‘anti-Traveller rhetoric’.

Galway Traveller Movement urged Fianna Fáil to suspend City Councillor Michael John Crowe, pending a full investigation into comments he made in a press statement issued on Monday and repeated on local radio, about Galway City Council buying a house in Renmore for Traveller accommodation.

As that controversy raged on social media this week, Dr John Cunningham, Director of MA History, University of Galway, said he was shocked by the “scandalous” conditions he saw at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site.

“I was at an event on campus earlier this year where President Michael D (Higgins) gave a speech and specifically denounced conditions in Carrowbrowne and he would know some of the families, who lived in the Westside area.

“So, I was aware of the circumstances but faced with the actual reality of it was just utterly shocking,” Dr Cunningham told the Galway City Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Kissing goodbye to hated gates under pilot project

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It was agreed to start the project with the gates in the Claddagh and Terryland Forest Park.

Kissing gates at South Park and Terryland Forest Park will be removed in a pilot project to assess their impact on public spaces.

Galway City Council has agreed to trial the removal or replacement of kissing gates in the city on a case-by-case basis while waiting for the completion of an audit that will be used to develop a policy on the controversial barriers at Wednesday’s Recreation and Amenity Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting.

The follows anger among the cycling community that the one in South Park had been removed to facilitate a private company fun run only to be returned days later as reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway City East Councillor Owen Hanley, who attended the meeting, said it is still to be decided what barriers would be erected in their place and it would depend on the needs of the location.

“Previously I worked with Council staff on the Terryland Forest Park kissing gate along the cyclebus route and we agreed to use chicanes to slow but not stop users,” he revealed.

“Whatever goes in will allow cyclists and wheelchair users to pass. We have been given no timelines but it will be in the short-term and I will be following up on this.”

He said the Council has been discussing how to handle kissing gates since he was elected as a Social Democrat over three years ago.

“The rare instances where mopeds or motorbikes damage our green spaces does not justify the widespread use of kissing gates, in fact many times, kissing gates don’t even stop this behaviour. Kissing gates present a very real barrier to people who use wheelchairs or buggies, or cycle, preventing them for accessing public parks as well as routes to work and school.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Abuse and violence towards LGBT+ people is ‘massively under-reported’

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Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, Project Co-ordinator and Tiernan Arnup, Administration and Communications, Amach LGBT+, Westside Recource Centre. PHOTO: BRIAN HARDING.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in Galway continue to suffer verbal abuse, violence, and threats of violence while socialising in the city, according to advocates.

Amach, which supports the local LGBT+ community, said that homophobia and hate crimes persist despite recent legislative gains and societal change in Ireland in recent years.

A new report by An Garda Síochána highlighted that just 17 ‘hate-related incidents’ were recorded in the Galway Garda Division in 2021.

That includes hate crimes and hate-related, non-crime incidents recorded across nine discriminatory motives including age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender.

But Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, project co-coordinator at Amach in the Westside Community Centre, said it was an “incredibly low figure”, that showed “massive under-reporting”.

LGBT+ Ireland reported a four-fold increase in calls to its helpline last year of people experiencing hate crime, based on their LGBT+ status, she said.

Ms McDonagh-Delaney said that was the reality on Galway’s streets too, even if the official Garda figures did not reflect that.

She said there was a “sense of normalisation” of threats of violence and violence itself, based on LGBT+ status. This had become “commonplace” in Galway and LGBT+ people avoided certain areas at weekends because of it.

“We’d know ourselves that on a Friday and Saturday night, you don’t go up around Eyre Square on a night out. You know what areas to avoid because you know you are at high risk of experiencing some form of abuse. Whether it’s verbal abuse, the threat of violence or actual violence,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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