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VAT rate hike could cause hundreds of lay-offs in Galway

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The Minister for Finance has been warned that hundreds of jobs in Galway’s hospitality and tourism sectors are under threat if the special 9% VAT rate is increased in this month’s Budget.

Galway West Labour TD, Derek Nolan told Michael Noonan in the Dáil that the city and county are heavily dependent on tourism, and the sector is still in a very fragile state.

He warned that if the 9% rate expires, a “much-needed lifeline” will be taken from businesses.

The special rate was introduced in July 2011 and is due to expire on December 31, when it will revert to 13.5%. The reduction was brought in to aid tourism-related activities including restaurants, hotels, as well as the likes of cinemas, hairdressers and newspapers.

Deputy Nolan told the Connacht Tribune: “The decision to reduce the VAT rate is one of the government’s early successes and it has given a much-needed lifeline to many businesses in Galway that were struggling to keep afloat.

“As a Galway Deputy, I am aware that the city and county I represent are extremely tourism-dependent.  In this context, numbers have increased both this year and last and I believe this job stimulus and the VAT rate have contributed towards that.

“There have also been positive signs with regard to employment figures in the past year and there has been job creation which, after years of job losses, is to be welcomed.  

“However, we still are at a very fragile state and the jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors in Galway and nationwide must be protected.

“Having spoken to many hoteliers and restaurateurs across the Galway West constituency, I know the lower VAT rate has played a central role in maintaining and creating jobs and giving businesses a renewed sense of confidence.

“I was heartened by the Minister’s comments that the 9% VAT rate has indeed boosted tourism, created additional jobs and has had a positive impact on the number of trips to Ireland from overseas.

“During the debate, Minister Noonan assured me that he will consider the VAT rate reduction in the context of the upcoming Budget,” said Deputy Nolan.

Meanwhile, owners of local newspapers have also lobbied the Minister to extend the 9% rate on their publications, pointing out most are suffering from declining sales and drops in advertising revenues.

The details of Budget 2014 will be unveiled on Tuesday, October 15.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
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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