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Trump triggers fear for jobs in Galway-based US firms

Dara Bradley

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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

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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