Student Unions say not all sides of accommodation story are being heard in Newcastle

Unions representing third level students in Galway have criticised local councillors for not hearing “all sides of the story” regarding the development of high end student accommodation in the city.

GMIT and NUI Galway Students’ Unions says plans to replace the Westwood Hotel in Newcastle with a 400 bed accommodation centre will help alleviate the housing crisis affecting all sectors here.

Rejecting what they term as “heated opposition from 200 Newcastle and Dangan residents” with support from local councillors, they say these beds will ease the pressure for accommodation.

The language used by residents that there should not be student accommodation in “our estates” is a classic example of ‘not in my backyard’, said GMIT Students Union president Mark O’Brien.

He stated that students have proved to be valuable assets to any local community and contribute to the local economy.

“We feel that councillors jumping in on this discriminatory blockade should have heard all sides of the story first. We have an accommodation crisis spreading through families, students and other groups with rents going through the roof. The number of beds [in this proposed development] will alleviate the pressure from the 20,000 students in GMIT and NUI Galway scrambling for somewhere to sleep.”

Lorcan O Maoileannaigh, the president of NUI Galway Students’ Union said a few years ago the redevelopment and increasing capacity of Trinity Hall in Rathgar was met with the resistance of the local community protesting against the overconcentration of students in that area.

“Today, the hall that accommodates 1,000 students is well integrated into the community and offers student housing in a convenient location. Diverse and well-balanced local communities have great potential for regeneration, civic activities, and engagement.”

The National Student Accommodation Strategy, which was published in July, identifies the importance of providing dedicated and additional student accommodation to avoid putting additional pressures on the private rental sector, particularly in and around the many universities and third-level institutions in urban areas, and puts actions in place to end the shortage.

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