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University paid €130,000 to consultancy firm



NUI Galway has spent more than €130,000 for advice and services from a Dublin-based private consultancy.

Athrú Consultancy Limited was hired by the city university for a variety of reasons over a three-year period.

The business was paid in a total of €132,783 for services supplied last year, in 2014 and 2012.

The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request.

In 2015, Athrú was paid a total of €53,354 by NUIG.

The bulk of this (€28,399) was for work in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. Some €7,380 was paid to the company for services supplied to the university’s president’s office.

The remaining money in 2015, according to the spread sheet of payments, was spent on ‘information solutions services’ (€6,150), ‘executive director of operations (€10,425) and School of Law (€1,000).

In 2014, Athrú was paid a total of €28,255.

This figure included services supplied to the Registrar’s office (€6,765); the Press and Communications office (€1,845); for ‘marketing and communications (€1,854); the Human Resources office (€6,150); the School of Law (€7,960); and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (€3,690).

In 2012, a total of €51,174 was paid by NUIG to Athrú.

Some €13,852 of this was for “institutional and strategic events”; €3,000 was for “SDF 2011 President Allocation”; €12,074 was for services to the Alumni office; €5,535 for the Human Resources office; some €6,874 for advertising and recruitment; and €9,840 for information and solutions services.

The NUIG press office said it had ‘no comment’ to make about the expenditure.

However, in its FOI response, NUIG explained that Athrú, “have provided a broad range of HR and organisational development services to a wide variety of units within the university.”

It added: “A number of different consultants from within Athrú Consultancy have provided these services.”

NUIG refused to release the hourly rates paid to this private company and cited “commercial sensitivity reasons”.

Athrú, on its website, describes itself as a HR and organisational development consultancy, “created to support organisations and people. We work with our clients to achieve their objectives by providing rigorously developed innovative solutions that are based on in-depth analysis and a deep understanding of their business challenges”.

Gerry McAleavey is listed as a senior consultant and partner in Athrú. Seán O’Driscoll is a managing partner.


Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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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Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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