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Homelessness in Galway will be a long-term problem



New figures from Galway City Council show there are almost 4,900 households on the waiting list for local authority housing.

The most recent quarterly report from Galway City Council shows an increase in households waiting for local authority housing. Figures reveal there are 483 more on the list than in April of last year.

The majority – approximately 80% – of households on the waiting list are awaiting small scale one or two bed houses.

Galway city council currently has 485 properties under RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme) and 139 in Long Term Leasing.

Under the RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme), the council draws up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people with long term housing needs (generally speaking, those availing of Rent Supplement for more than 18 months are considered for RAS). The local authority pays the full rent directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant and tenants pay rent direct to City Council.

The amount payable is determined by the Council’s Differential Rent Scheme – a rent assessment procedure designed so that weekly rent charged on a property is based on the person’s ability to pay.

But in the past 12 months, 50 landlords have withdrawn from the RAS scheme – thus decreasing the number of properties available to tackle the escalating housing crisis.

Galway City Council cites market forces from the private rental sector as the likely reason for this dropout rate.

Despite the fact that landlords cannot just break a contract, a problem has emerged nationally whereby proprietors escape the contract by maintaining they are selling the property or are making it available for the use of a family member.

In reality, it is believed landlords are opting out of scheme for financial reasons. Under RAS, property owners can expect an approximate €800 per month for a 3-bed house in Galway, whereas that same property could make in excess of €1,000 in private rented accommodation.

Former Labour Party Councillor Nuala Nolan said: “I have heard where a landlord terminated a contract saying his daughter needed the house… next thing he had a gang of students living in it.”

One homeless man and his wife contacted the Galway City Tribune last week to share their story of desperation. They have been without a home since March 2015.

The couple say they were forced to leave their accommodation in Salthill last year after their landlord “had troubles with the bank”; they insist they had a good rapport with their former landlord who agreed to reinstate them as tenants once she had “sorted everything out”.

Unfortunately for the couple, the accommodation they hoped to return to was irreparably damaged by flood water and deemed uninhabitable.

The man and his wife have fluctuated between staying with friends – sleeping on couches – and sleeping in his car. He reveals the feeling of unease at waking up in someone else’s home while children are running around getting ready for school. “It’s embarrassing” he says.

The husband asserts he is unable to work due to mental illness, and confides that he suffers from severe anxiety and depression. As a result, he is wholly dependent on disability welfare. His wife is also unemployed.

COPE Galway and City Council have attempted to assist them in finding a temporary settlement solution. However, he has declined accommodation offered by COPE Galway at Fairgreen Hostel claiming his condition prohibits him from sharing with other people.

“I have anxiety and depression,” he explains. These problems – which result in an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations – have prevented him from seeking temporary solution to his problems. “I would rather sleep in my car than share with people – I can’t,” he insists.

“I don’t know where we’re staying tonight,” he confesses, adding that this has been an everyday uncertainty for the best part of a year. “I’ve nowhere to go” he added.

Galway City Council has enlisted the couple for NABCO, a social rented housing co-op which provides housing to people recruited from Local Authority waiting lists.

In the meantime, however, they remain homeless.

And with less properties becoming available for rent, their dilemma shows little sign of abating.

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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