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94 kids on city’s homeless risk list



The first six months of the year have seen a marked increase in homelessness being experienced in Galway City, according to statistics released by COPE Galway.

On one night at the start of June COPE were working with 148 households who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Included in these numbers were 157 adults and, worryingly, 94 children.

With the huge shortage of social housing and the increase in rent costs currently being experienced in Galway, this has “caused a near perfect storm”, according to Martin O’Connor, Assistant CEO of COPE Galway.

COPE Galway operates to provide services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic violence and for older people living independently in the community.

The services provided by the charity focus on working with and supporting individuals to address underlying issues which contributed to their homelessness and to identify and secure move-on housing.

Having recently gone to Facebook in an appeal for blankets, the assistant CEO explained that appeals of this nature were nothing out of the ordinary for a charity like COPE Galway.

“[The appeal] is nothing out of the ordinary. Cope regularly carry out these appeals to help the people sleeping rough or even for the people moving on, [it’s both] beneficial and a support mechanism” explained Mr. O’Connor.

The Assistant CEO revealed some of the factors that have lead to the increase in homelessness in Galway City.

“[The] current shortage of housing in both the social housing and private rented sector and ever-increasing rent levels means that homelessness is something more and more people will experience,” warned Mr. O’Connor.

The homeless population in Galway has generally seen a higher proportion of men than women and children experiencing homelessness.

In recent times, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of families experiencing homelessness in Galway.

“Over the past ten or so weeks there has been … an unprecedented level of demand for emergency accommodation in Galway city with the growth in the numbers of families becoming homeless especially concerning.”

The number of households in emergency accommodation on June 2 and June 3 was 64.

Included in these numbers, were 19 families with a total of 37 children having to be accommodated on this night.

This shocking statistic is partly as a result of issues in the wider housing market. On top of this social, personal and health issues are always rearing their heads.

To be considered as suffering from long term homelessness, one needs to be homeless for six consecutive months. This figure has risen in Galway with many people continually struggling to secure housing, be it private or social.

This has led to more people availing of emergency accommodation as well as the general increase in numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

The average time people have spent in emergency accommodation or spent availing of homeless facilities has seen an increase over the years.

“The average several years ago was between four and five weeks, whereas nowadays it’s between seven and nine weeks” said Mr. O’Connor. He pointed out that “people are struggling to move through the services.”

Issues surrounding housing in Galway have been well documented.

Cllr Catherine Connolly was critical of the level of investment in social housing after the government announced the plan to build 518 houses in Galway by 2017.

“While any proposal to build additional social housing units has to be welcomed, the government’s initiative utterly fails to grasp the depth of the housing crisis in Galway City,” she said.

In the most recent quarterly report from the City Council Housing Department showed that the current number of households on the waiting list stands at 4,041, this doesn’t include the 370 households on the County waiting list, with a further 75 applications currently waiting to be processed.

Coupling this with the skyrocketing rental costs there is scope for this problem to continue to grow.

The cost of renting a three-bed house in city has soared to €945, according to

This is backed up by the fact that the majority of families seeking assistance are coming out of the private rented accommodation sector.

Martín O’Connor, says further provision of affordable social housing is the only solution to the growing problem of homelessness in the city.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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