Family homelessness in Galway and the West is increasing at a speed that is four times the rate of the increase nationally.
The latest figures for families living in emergency accommodation are ‘frightening’ according to Galway Simon Community, which has urged Government to “wake up to the reality” and build more social housing.
Another charity, COPE Galway, said the homelessness situation is in danger of getting “out of control”, as it too called for more social housing to be built.
The latest statistics reveal number of people in emergency accommodation nationally increased from 7,699 in May 2017 to 9,846 in May 2018, an increase of 28%.
Over the same period, the number of people in emergency accommodation in the West increased from 250 to 514, an increase of 106% – the numbers more than doubled in the year and increased at nearly four times the rate of increase nationally. During that time, the number of dependents in emergency homeless accommodation in the West increased from 59 to 233, just shy of a fourfold increase.
The figures for May 2018 show that in just one year, an additional 63 families and 174 children are in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland with the majority of those in Galway. This represents an increase of 77% in family homelessness.
The West’s figures include Galway, Mayo and Roscommon but the problem is most acute in Galway. In the West, there are 281 adults, 252 of whom are in Galway, and 233 children with no place to call home.
Not included in the stats are rough sleepers, or the ‘hidden homeless’, which are people who have been issued with notices to quit and who are ‘doubling-up’ and living with family and friends and temporarily couch surfing until they find alternatives.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the Government needs to wake up to the reality of the situation and start taking it seriously.
“Month after month, the number in emergency accommodation is steadily increasing. In Galway the emergency shelters and homes run by Galway Simon and COPE are at breaking point, meaning that hundreds of other individuals and families are forced to live in hotels, B&Bs and tourist hostels. It’s an absolute tragedy,” she said.
Under the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan, Galway City Council has been set a target by Minister Eoghan Murphy to deliver 399 additional housing units this year. Of these, some 96 homes are supposed to be new builds but it has been widely acknowledged that the Council is on course to deliver just 14 new builds in 2018.
Ms Golden said the Government’s Rent Pressure Zones – a policy that capped rent increases in Galway City at 4% per annum – are “absolutely not working”.
Rents have increased by 12.4% in the past year, three times the rent zone rate, she said.
This is explained due to a phenomenon referred to as ‘renovictions’, whereby landlords issue notices to quit in order to do up their properties and they bring them back, refurbished, at a much higher rent.
Ms Golden said all of the problems stem from a lack of housing supply. “We want to see more houses developed. What’s causing all of this is a lack of supply. We need to increase the supply of housing and ideally we want to have Councils develop more social housing,” she added.
These sentiments were echoed by Martin O’Connor of Cope Galway.
“The shortage of rental housing continues to be acute in Galway and rents continue to increase. This could get out of control very easily despite everyone’s best intentions and efforts. Additional social housing is the only solution . . . but the pace at which this is progressing is too slow and the number of homes being developed – 240 between now and 2020 in Galway City – is too little,” he said.
“Being homeless is an enormously stressful and damaging experience. Speeding up the delivery of much needed social housing, so that those without a home are provided for, has to be a priority for all at this time.”
Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions
The Taoiseach announced this evening that the country will move to Level 3 restrictions from next week, with shops, gyms, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and gastro-pubs set to reopen.
“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months. I understand that feeling. Very often I share it,” Micheál Martin said in an address to the nation.
“This cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to but it will be a very special time where we all enjoy some respite,” he said, as he announced the planned move to “Level 3, with some modifications”.
The use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.
From 1 December, under Level 3, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19:
- weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions)
- funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions)
- no organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below
- gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors
- non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15
- only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted
- no matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors
- gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only
- nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed
- hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only
- non-essential retail and personal services may reopen
- people should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person
- public transport capacity is limited to 50%
From 1 December:
- households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble
- people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes
From 4 December:
- restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels
- higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online
Adjustments for the Christmas Period
From 1 December:
- places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
- museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
- cinemas to reopen
- wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery
From 18 December to 6 January:
- households can mix with up to two other households
- travel outside your county to be permitted
From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.
The measures for cross-border travel will be the same as for travel between all other counties, that is, from 1 December, people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes while from 18 December to 6 January, travel outside the county is permitted.
It has further been agreed that the use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.
Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings
The comings and goings have continued at Galway United in the past week, with the club busy re-signing players fork last season, adding some new faces, as well as confirming the departure of players who were part of the 2020 squad.
Having already said goodbye to the sextet of Conor Barry, Joe Collins, Vinny Faherty, Jack Lynch, Timo Partheons, and Josh Smith, the club this week confirmed the departure of three more players: Enda Curran (89 appearances, 20 goals), Conor Melody (108 appearances, five goals), and Timmy Molloy (16 appearances, no goals).
Curran was signed for United as an 18-years-old by Sean Connor ahead of the 2011 season and made his debut in the opening game of that campaign, coming on as a substitute for the injured Neal Keane in the 43rd of a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.
He made a total of 13 appearances for United that season, and he was back with the Tribesmen for United’s return to the national league in the 2014 season, when he made eight appearances, scoring his first goal for United in the first of those games, coming off the bench to score in the 5-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers B in July.
His most productive season for United was the following year’s campaign, when he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in the Premier Division for United (he made 29 league and cup appearance in total that season), including his one and only hat-trick for the club, coming in the 5-0 win away to Bray Wanderers in April.
The following month, he had the distinction of scoring two penalties in a single game, in the 5-3 win over Bohemians.
That haul of a dozen goals saw him finish as the club’s joint top-scorer in the league that season alongside Jake Keegan, though the US striker finished as overall top scorer on 16 goals thanks to 2 goals in the FAI Cup, and two in the League Cup.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Biden is a Maree man!
The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.
And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.
Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.
Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.
Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie