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Families on supplement fork out for rent top-ups



More than 3,000 families and individuals in Galway are getting rent supplement – but a huge proportion of them have to pay ’top-ups’ to meet the actual cost of renting their home, according to a Galway TD.

Independent Deputy Noel Grealish said that latest figures showed that while there were 3,184 receiving rent supplement in Galway City and County at the end of March, only 155 were getting extra payments to meet the cost of renting.

“This means that a huge number of people are having to pay out of their own pockets the difference between what they get in rent supplement and what they are being charged by landlords.

“Currently, the most a family of, say, a couple with three children, can get in rent supplement is €750 a month – but that is falling well short of what the majority of properties are charging.

“The only option they have is to pay the balance themselves, even though they are not supposed to do so under the rules – and judging by the people who have contacted me about this, they are topping up by €100 and more a month,” said Deputy Grealish.

The Independent TD for Galway West said that even if an increase of up to 15% in rent supplements promised in the Programme for Government is extended to Galway, the maximum of €862.50 would still fall short of the rents charged for the cheapest three-beds in Galway City.

Deputy Grealish said that a study of properties advertised on the popular website last week showed that there wasn’t a single three-bedroomed home available for rent in Galway City within the rent supplement limits.

“The cheapest three-bed on offer in the city – apart from the odd summer rental – was €950 a month for an apartment in Ballybrit and the same for a house in Knocknacarra, which is €200 a month above the maximum rent supplement.

“Any other three-bedroomed properties for rent in the city would cost at least €1,000 a month, most of them a lot more,” he said.

Deputy Grealish said that the same difficulties were faced by single people, couples and small families.

“There wasn’t a single property in the city available for longer term rent that cost less than the maximum rent supplement in each case,” he pointed out.

And the picture was not much better for people seeking suitable accommodation throughout the county.

“There are more properties available that are charging less than the rent supplement cap the further away you get from Galway City, but they are limited enough.

“And it’s no comfort to someone who wants to find a place to live near Claregalway that they could find a place that suits their pocket 60 miles away in Clifden.”

Deputy Grealish said that a realistic approach needed to be taken in the setting of limits for rent supplement.

Currently the limits for Galway are: Single (sharing) €280, couple (sharing) €300, single €475, couple €540, couple/parent with one qualified child €700, couple/parent with two children €725 and couple/parent with three children €750.

“In a place like Galway, where properties are scarce and rents are particularly high, we need to immediately raise the limits that are paid, and to a realistic level.

“The Programme for Partnership Government commits to raising the rent supplement ‘by up to 15%’ taking account of geographic variations.

“We need that and more in Galway if we are to be real about this – there are fewer than one in 20 Galway rent supplement recipients getting their payments boosted at the moment.

“It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to what is going on, where families who are struggling are being forced to pay extra from severely limited means just to keep a roof over their heads.

“It might also help to stem the tide of families who are being forced to declare themselves homeless and become the responsibility of the local council to provide emergency accommodation,” added Deputy Grealish.

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.

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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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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