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Traders told: use festive bonanza to pay rates



The Windmill House, which features The Nativity, at the centre of the Galway Continental Christmas Market at Eyre Square. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Retailers’ Christmas gift to the city should be ‘coughing up’ rates arrears, a former mayor blasted.

City businesses estimate the Christmas Market in Eyre Square this year will boost their coffers by up to €20 million.

And City Councillor Pádraig Conneely says businesses should use that festive bonanza to pay their rates’ bills.

The Fine Gael councillor called on the business community to use the Christmas ‘spend’ to pay their rates. The City Council would then reinvest the money back into improving the city, which would in turn help businesses, he said.

Last week retailer and Labour City Councillor Niall McNelis cited research that showed some the market would attract 600,000 visitors and boost city business to the tune of €20 million.

Cllr Conneely is sceptical, however.

He said: “City businesses say that the market will generate €20 million and retailers have welcomed that. I welcome that spend too, €20 million is a lot of money. Although I have my doubts about where they’re getting this €20 million figure from, I think it could be just spin, but if it is true it has to be welcomed.

“Everyone is saying what a great year this has been for Galway: We’re told it was the biggest spend for Galway Races in years; we’re told it was the biggest spend for Galway Arts Festival in years; we’re told it has been the best season for tourism in years.

“But this bumper year is not reflected in the level of rates being paid to the city. Where’s the money gone? Where are all the millions of Euro that have been generated this year, which we’re told is a record year for businesses. That’s not reflected in the rates bills paid.

“If the city businesses, and particularly the hospitality and retail sectors, are having such a bumper year, and a bumper Christmas, then they must be in a position to pay their rates bills, which the Council will reinvest in the city,” said Cllr Conneely.

He pointed out that the city is owed almost €30 million in rates arrears. The total due this year was €52.7 million, which was €35 million for this year plus €17.7 million in arrears.



Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain



Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain

The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir

The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete

Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.

Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.

Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.

Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.

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Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square



Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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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