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Backing Galway 2020 bid is just the business



Mark O’Donnell, responsible for Business Engagement and Regional Partnerships for Galway 2020.

Mark O’Donnell of the Galway 2020 bid team tells the Tribune of the fantastic support received from businesses and how they can further help in promoting Galway’s chances.

Mark O’Donnell has one of the most challenging jobs in Galway at the moment but it also appears to be one of the most enjoyable.

Mark is responsible for Business Engagement and Regional Partnerships for Galway 2020.

What’s the challenge with that you may ask.

The budget for Galway 2020 is €45.75m and 15% or €6.75m of that must come from the private sector, mostly businesses.

The challenge for Mark and the Business Engagement team is to raise that €6.75m.

The enjoyment he gets from this seemingly mammoth task is obvious on meeting him.

‘This is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in Galway’, he says.

‘The potential benefits to the entire region if we’re successful are enormous and I am working as part of an energetic and creative team. Why wouldn’t I be excited by it?


So how do you go about convincing people and businesses in Galway and beyond to contribute a total of €6.75m?

‘At this stage we’re not looking for cash in the bank’, says Mark.

‘What we are asking is that businesses pledge their support – in financial terms – to Galway 2020.

‘There will be no contract in place at this stage and we’ll sit down and work out the details with each one if we’re successful with the bid.

So what you’re looking for now is for people to confirm their support by promising to contribute cash or services to the Galway 2020 project if the bid is successful – but they won’t have to pay over anything this year, or next?

‘Exactly!’ says Mark.


The benefits outlined by the Galway 2020 team are based heavily on the experience of Derry/Londonderry when it was the very first UK City of Culture in 2013.

‘The experience there was very positive with a reported 25% increase in visitors to the city and surrounding areas in 2013,’ confirms Mark.

Can Galway expect to see similar increases?

‘We’re predicting at least an average 15% increase in visitors in from 2019 onwards, based on the experience in Derry and other European Capitals of Culture. In 2020 that could reach 40%.

‘There will be many other benefits (see panel), and we’re particularly focussed on ensuring there will be a strong, sustainable legacy after 2020.

The hospitality sector across the city and county would be an obvious beneficiary of Galway securing the bid, but lots of different types of businesses see potential gains.

For example, Graham Roberts of the Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely believes it will have a positive impact on his export trade.

‘We already have strong trade with France and this has the potential to give us great exposure in other European countries,’ said Graham at a recent Galway 2020 Business Engagement event.

For companies keen on attracting and retaining the best staff for example Galway’s IT and Med-Tech sectors, the experience of previous capitals of culture is a 15% increase in the retention of skilled workers.


Mark has been amazed at the willingness of local businesses to step forward and support Galway 2020 with pledges.

‘We’ve had a fantastic response to our €2,020 appeal with most of those pledging that amount for four years,’ he says.

‘Other businesses have offered services to a very high value without even being asked.

Combined these exceed €1 million, but there is still a long way to go to achieve the target of €6.75 million.

They’re extremely grateful to Galway city’s business community which last year agreed to a 3% increase in rates to help prepare the bid.

The panel of judges commented that they had never seen this level of commitment from a business community at the bid stage.

Decision time

Members of the judging panel will be visiting Galway on July 10th and 11th and it’s important that businesses throughout the county and city show their support for the bid – because it will benefit all.

In addition to pledging financial support, there are lots of ways to do this:

■ Decorate your house, office, village and town in Galway 2020’s flags and colours. Contact the Galway 2020 office to find out how to get flags and bunting.

■ Follow the #Galway2020 campaign on social media, by adding a Galway 2020 Twibbon to your social media profiles, download the Galway 2020 brand campaign pack.

■ Make sure all your work colleagues know about Galway 2020 and show their support on social media.

■ Get creative with photos, paintings and performances from all over the world to show how much Galway really wants this!

Raising €6.75 million from businesses is a very tall order. The short and long-term benefits for Galway of being selected as European Capital of Culture 2020 are tremendous.

It’s an exciting time to be part of something with such a potentially huge positive impact on the region.

No wonder Mark and the full 2020 team are enthusiastic about the challenge.

Connacht Tribune

New President for Local Ireland



Left to right, Bob Hughes, Executive Director, Local Ireland, Dan Linehan, Head of Irish Times Regionals and Declan McGuire, Operations Manager of the Connacht Tribune.

The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers around the country, is Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan.

Mr Linehan takes over the presidency from Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune. His appointment was confirmed at the recent Annual General Meeting of Local Ireland at Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar, Westmeath.

Mr Linehan, who has served as Vice President of the organisation for the last two years, said: “The coming years are a very important time for local publishers with many important issues to be addressed, including the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations, defamation reform, the role and support for local publishers in public service reporting and helping publishers develop commercial digital offerings.”

Speaking at the AGM, Mr McGuire acknowledged the work done by the Executive in the past two years under the direction of Executive Director, Bob Hughes, on several projects related to the publishing industry but most especially the successful conclusion of the long-running campaign for the abolition of VAT on newspapers.

He also wished Mr Linehan the very best in his new role as President of the association for the next two years.

Mr Hughes thanked Mr McGuire for his leadership and support during his term of office and said he looked forward to working with Mr Linehan on the key policy priorities for the association, including Government supports, Government advertising, fair remuneration for content from the tech platforms and the reform of the legislation for defamation.

Local Ireland members also elected Seán Mahon, Managing Director of the Southern Star, as Vice President for the next two years.

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Connacht Tribune

Employers’ group hears of key challenges facing businesses in the region



Pictured at Regional Insight Series in the Galmont Hotel are: Trevor O’Rourke, (CEO, Fibre Networks Ireland); Senan Colleran, (Head ESB Assets, Generation & Trading, ESB); Eilish O'Sullivan, (Human Resources Director, Medtronic); Danny McCoy, (CEO, Ibec); Helen Leahy, (Head of Regional Policy, Ibec); Ruairi Conroy (Diligent Corporation) and Fergal O’Brien, (Executive Director of Lobbying & Influence, Ibec). PHOTO: Michael Dillon.

The shortage of affordable housing is the single biggest impediment in attracting and retaining workers in the West, according to business group Ibec.

At a ‘Regional Insights Series’ meeting in the Galmont Hotel in Galway last week, employers were told that capacity constraints and labour supply are the key challenges facing business growth in the region.

Ibec Head of Regional Policy Helen Leahy said: “There must be greater focus by government on enhancing quality of life issues such as housing and infrastructure which are driving labour shortages in the region.

“Ibec’s vision for the West is to realise its potential to become a globally competitive location. An inadequate supply of affordable housing is now the single largest impediment to attracting and retaining talented workers, without whom business investment and expansions are not possible.

“Labour shortages are a real concern for businesses in the region. People decide where to live and work based on quality of life and access to high quality services and amenities. Industry tends to follow talent, and in this regard, the region needs to have all the building blocks in place as the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level,” said Ms Leahy.

Amongst Ibec’s priorities for the West are:

  • Addressing housing and infrastructure challenges
  • Transitioning towards a new growth model with Net Zero energy powered by Atlantic offshore wind resources
  • Adapting businesses to the new economic realities
  • Enhancing capacity and skillsets to achieve sustainable development objectives
  • Investment in people and skills
  • Creating competitive advantage through digitalisation
  • Innovation as a key driver of productivity growth




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Connacht Tribune

Survey finds one in five retailers in Galway want to go fully cashless



Conor Quirke of BOI Payment Acceptance: move to card payments.

One in five Galway businesses want to go fully cashless, as the move towards card payments and tapping continues unabated post-Covid.

In all, 22% of Galway businesses would like to be fully cashless, according to a survey carried out by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), a provider of payment technology solutions, which asked Irish businesses about the current payment landscape as well as business confidence and concerns.

Over one-third (36%) of Galway businesses were unaware there is no contactless limit on mobile wallets – just below the national average – while 54% believe the increase in card over cash transactions has helped them run their business.

Six out of ten Galway businesses expect to grow this year despite the cost-of-living crisis and running costs dominating as key concerns; 62% believe their business will grow over the next twelve months despite global economic uncertainty.

Unsurprisingly cost-of-living increases and running costs were the main concerns the majority of businesses had.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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