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Vincent de Paul in turmoil over LGBT split

Denise McNamara



The Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP) has insisted that its decision to disband a committee which awarded €45,000 to a resource centre for the gay community had nothing to do with the vehement opposition of the Bishop of Galway.

In a statement from its public relations firm, the society said that it would not comment on internal matters following reports that it had ‘stood down’ the SVP St Augustine’s Conference which administered the Maureen O’Connell Fund.

The Irish Times claimed the move followed “disagreement over governance arrangements between the SVP at national and local level”.

SVP spokesman Jim Walsh told the Connacht Tribune it had “absolutely and categorically nothing to do with comments the Bishop made 18 months ago”.

The charity would make good on its promise to allocate the funding to the support group Amach to open a new resource centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Galway, which had been approved by the organisation’s National Management Council (NMC).

“SVP believes that it is an excellent concept in supporting vulnerable people. It is committed to supporting the resource centre, but as trustees the NMC require reasonable governance arrangements to be in place for the operation and management of the centre in order to satisfy the society’s obligations in the stewardship of resources,” he stated.

“Discussions have taken place with members of the board of Amach to arrive at an appropriate solution to the governance requirement for the grant to the resource centre and this dialogue is not yet complete.”

He also insisted that the fund was “winding down” as over 90% of its funds had been spent or approved for 60 beneficial projects, including funding for several resource centres and day care centres in Galway city and county as well as social housing and for a range of education projects for children.

No grants from the fund came from any public donations to SVP, the spokesman stressed.

“A final audit has yet to be made. But from the residual benefit of the legacy received by SVP (€7.8m) and interest accruing since 2007, there is approximately €350,000 which has not been allocated or approved,” said Mr Walsh. That will now be managed by the NMC.

Nuala Ward, vice-president of Amach, said the Teach Solais LGBT Resource Centre would be open by Christmas with the final preparation work now underway.

Galway City Council recently granted planning permission to Amach to change ground floor retail space at Victoria Place off Eyre Square into a drop-in centre and resource space.

The project overcame another significant hurdle when the local authority also approved €25,000 towards the cost of renting the building after an initial disagreement that it should go to the cost of buying a property.

“Amach are also in the final stages of drawing down the first installment of the grant from the Maureen O’Connell fund towards Teach Solais. We have received confirmation that the St Augustine Conference group has been suspended. However, the funds will be released by the SVP National Management Council,” she explained.

Once the SVP funding is received, interviews for a part-time community development support worker will be held.

The Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan last year slammed the charity’s large allocation towards a gay resource centre, which he said promotes a culture that was “morally wrong”.

In an outburst which prompted widespread criticism, Dr Drennan said the “moral judgment” involved in making the decision had damaged the reputation of the charity, with their supporters questioning whether they should they support SVP any longer.

In letters sent to the SVP demanding an explanation, the Bishop hinted that allocation could jeopardise the relationship between the Church and the charity.

According to the planning file, the centre will be “a safe, accessible environment to combat the effects of isolation, homophobia and transphobia on the overall health and well-being for LGBT and their families”.

The centre will be used in the evenings from 6.30pm to 10pm for meetings, peer support, the operation of a LGBT helpline and education, training and counselling workshops.

An area to the front of the premises will provide space for the sale of merchandise such as t-shirts, cards, keyrings.

Publican Maureen O’Connell, who was unmarried and without children, left her landmark pub in Eyre Square to the charity when she died in 1998, specifying that it should only go towards projects in Galway.

Legal wrangling over the will meant that it did not go on sale until the height of the Celtic Tiger when it was sold in 2006 for €14m. The cost of a settlement with a tenant in the pub and legal bills as well as capital gains tax swallowed up over €6m of the sale price.


Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail




A still from the video of the brawl close to the Garda HQ in Renmore.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.

Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.

The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.

The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.

Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.

They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.

Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.

Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.

He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.

Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.

Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.

“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Cycle plans for Galway City get bumpy ride from councillors

Francis Farragher



A computer-generated image of how Eglinton Street would look if restricted for buses and bicycles only.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A €24 million plan to transform the greater urban area into a cycle friendly zone got a bumpy ride when introduced to city councillors at a meeting this week.

Councillors were presented with four consultants’ report outlining a framework for the narrowing of many city roads to facilitate cycle lanes and better pedestrian access.

However, several councillors hit out at the way the cycling proposals which were presented to them just hours before their scheduled meeting.

Former Mayor of Galway, Cllr Frank Fahey (FG) said that it just wasn’t good enough to have to consider such detailed proposals on city transport issues after only being emailed the details that morning shortly after 11am.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind), said that there was no joined-up thinking as regards the proposals and he asked if the residents of the east side of the city were consulted about what was being proposed.

“There is a real issue here with communication and consultation. We have businesses in Salthill that are down €25 million in terms of their business turnover and yet there was no consultation with them. It’s absolutely crazy going forward with no consultation,” said Cllr McDonnell.

Independent Knocknacarra councillor, Donal Lyons said that he had only received these detailed consultants’ reports just four hours before the meeting – he also wanted to know why Salthill was being treated differently to other areas.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the proposals, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Four-storey apartment block planned at Renmore cottage site

Stephen Corrigan



A computer-generated image of the apartment block and (inset) the cottage at Renmore Road.

Planning permission has been sought to construct a four-storey apartment block and three two-storey homes on a 0.8-acre site off the Renmore Road.

K King Construction Ltd is proposing to demolish the existing cottage at 78 Renmore Road to create access to the site, which backs onto Nolan Park.

The plans include 19 residential units in all, consisting of three detached four-bed houses to the south of the site, adjacent to Dún na Mara; 10 two-bed apartments and six one-bed apartments, to be accessed by a new vehicular entrance road where the cottage currently stands.

According to the planning application, the development would provide “a positive net gain of new residential units on an under-utilised infill plot” on lands which are zoned ‘Residential’ in the City Development Plan.

Some 22 car parking spaces are to be provided on-site – two for each detached house and one space per apartment unit; in addition, 34 covered bicycle parking spaces are provided for.

Each apartment will have a balcony while a children’s playground is proposed for an area south of the apartment block.

The materials and finish of the buildings are to be similar to those used in the adjacent Dún na Mara development that was completed in recent years by the same developer.

The development would include provision for new pedestrian access for residents to Nolan Park/Renmore Playing Fields by utilising “previously inaccessible” recreation and amenity lands.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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