The number of people out of work in Galway City has fallen by more than 850 over the past year — and by almost 2,000 in the county as a whole.
Latest figures show a small rise over the previous month in the numbers on the Live Register in the city at the end of January, but a reduction of almost one-tenth since this time last year.
But the data from the Central Statistics Office indicates that most areas of the county are continuing to enjoy a faster rate of recovery than the city.
And Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish has pointed to what he said is the continuing worrying situation of women aged over 25 in particular on the dole, highlighted by the latest figures.
The total number of people on the Live Register in the whole of Galway at the end of January stood at 16,177, down 1,975 (10.9%) on January 2015, but an increase of 117 on the December 2015 total.
In the city, the total number on the Live Register was 8,147, down by 9.5% on this time last year, and up by just over 100 (1.3%) on December figures.
Deputy Grealish highlighted the age difference in the employment recovery in Galway … and particularly in the case of women over 25.
He said that under 25s of both sexes continue to have the best of things, with a 25% reduction in unemployment in Galway City, compared with a more modest 7.3% among over 25s.
“But the contrast is even more stark when you look at the difference between younger women and women aged 25 and over.
“Galway City women aged under 25 have seen a welcome 25.5% reduction in unemployment since this time last year – but those aged over 25 have only seen a 5.3% drop.
“That would clearly indicate that there are particular barriers faced by women aged over 25 in getting back to work, and their situation has even disimproved since the previous Live Register figures were released last month.
“The high cost of childcare is likely to be one of the factors at play here and something that we need to look at.
“For many families it’s the equivalent of paying a second mortgage and they have to make the decision that one partner, usually the woman, must stay at home,” added Deputy Grealish.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.