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Trump triggers fear for jobs in Galway-based US firms

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The tremors from the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America could shake Ireland with a double whammy, a Chicago-based Galway senator has warned.

Senator Billy Lawless described Trump’s victory as “scary”, and has sparked fears of a repatriation of Irish based US multi-national companies, from Ireland back to America.

Trump’s triumph also raises the ugly spectre of Irish undocumented in the US moving in the opposite direction – the billionaire businessman has threatened mass deportation of illegal immigrants.

“Everyone is just shocked. Nobody expected it. They are stunned,” said Senator Lawless speaking from Chicago in the immediate aftermath of the poll.

“It’s scary but that’s the result and we have to deal with it,” added Senator Lawless, a supporter of the defeated Democrat candidate, Hilary Clinton.

The Galway native said he spoke to Minister for Diaspora, Joe McHugh, on Wednesday as Dublin ponders what strategy it will take with the new administration in Washington.

As Vice-President of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, an umbrella organisation that represents 130 immigrant groups, senator Lawless described the rhetoric from the now Republican President Elect as “unbelievable”.

Mr Lawless, An Taoiseach’s nominee to Seanad Éireann, has campaigned for years for immigration reform and has championed the cause of undocumented in the US.

The Chicago-based restaurateur is a friend of President Barack Obama, and some progress was made in the area of immigration rights during his two-terms in Washington. But there are fears Trump could reverse any progress, and clamp down on the undocumented.

Senator Lawless said people were “very scared” of the policy platform put forward by Trump during the race for the White House.

Trump has spoken disparagingly of immigrants, with sweeping racist statements about being rapists and criminals. He also threatened to build a wall between the US and Mexico if elected.

“He is talking about getting rid of eleven million undocumented. That is impossible,” said Senator Lawless.

He added: “He’s talked about building a wall on the Mexican border. He was still talking about building a wall even yesterday. A Republican Congressman was on the radio here yesterday insisting the wall was his priority. It’s scary but that’s the result and we have to deal.

“It’s a new scenario, that’s for sure. Sanity will have to prevail on this. The reality is that America has a demand for immigrant workers. America was built on immigration. That’s what the Irish did – they went over and did the menial jobs and got money and educated themselves and worked their way up. It’s a changed political landscape but you can’t deport all the people he says he will deport.

“There are eleven million undocumented. What level of deportation will there be? Will he start with hardened criminals? Obama, in his eight years, deported two million people. A lot of people don’t know that. How many will Trump deport? I have to meet now with Hispanic immigrant organisations to see where we go from here. But yes, it is a worry for the undocumented here.”

Aside from immigration, Trump’s economic platform could hit the West of Ireland hard, including in Galway where thousands of people are employed in US multinational companies, the engine of the local economy.

Senator Lawless said: “Trump is talking about recalling all American companies from tax havens. That would include Ireland, even though he hasn’t mentioned Ireland specifically. He’s talked about bringing jobs home, and jobs for Americans.

“He’s talking about increased tariffs on imports, even though we’ve worked for over 20 years to open up free trade. He’s talking about getting rid of the J1 visa for Irish students wishing to spend the Summer in the US.

“He’s going to repeal Obamacare (system of public health care), and replace it with his own system. That’s regressive. Will he be more pragmatic than he has been on the campaign stump? He has to be. He can’t do all the things he’s said he will do.”

Galway’s top thirteen companies export goods to the tune of €23 billion annually, and many of them are American.

In a statement, American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland chief executive Mark Redmond said US investment in Ireland amounts to $343bn and directly supports 140,000 jobs here. And he pointed out that Irish companies directly employ roughly the same number, in US.

Mr Redmond added: “The US and the EU are the world’s largest trading partners. The American Chamber of Commerce is committed to ensuring that Ireland remains a key gateway to Europe and the global location of choice for US investment.

“The key attractions of Ireland as an investment destination – our talented workforce, our competitiveness and the certainty of our legislative framework are the reasons why US business investment has been so successful here over many decades”.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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