My Kind Of Town - a vision for Galway post-Covid-19

A platform in which Galway puts forward ideas on how, after the pandemic, we can transform our city for the better

Cllr Martina O'Connor; Sen Ollie Crowe; and Cllr Declan McDonnell.

Cllr Martina O'Connor; Sen Ollie Crowe; and Cllr Declan McDonnell.

Martina O'Connor

Green Party councillor for Galway City Central

This is a new era for Galway. We can make the city more welcoming for those living here, changing the focus from being about the tourist experience, to being about the citizens.

This can be done through making the streets more of a community space, with parklets, increased space for pedestrians, outdoor seating for cafés and restaurants, safe cycling infrastructure, a mobility plan primarily for those living, working, shopping, and socialising here in Galway.

Prior to the pandemic there were more than 1,000 whole houses or apartments in Galway available through Airbnb. Regulating to reduce the amount of Airbnbs would free up such properties to long term lets, thereby increasing housing supply and reducing rents. This could make houses available for the front line staff who helped to get us through the lockdown, and who we still need to keep the city and our services functioning.

It will be good to see tourists back in Galway, and most will be domestic tourists for the foreseeable future. It will need to be taken into consideration the payment of tips as we now all try and use contactless payments. How will we show our gratitude to buskers who bring so much colour and life to the city streets, or waiters, waitresses, and bar staff? A safe clear system of tipping will be required.

Bin Bagsa Waste Rubbish

Waste management is an ongoing issue in various areas of Galway, not least due to the increase in take away food business. An idea would be to identify the source by printing the name of the business on any packaging being taken away. This way the business could be traced and employ staff to clean up their area of their take away rubbish.

'I look forward to a time where minority and vulnerable groups can face the winter with confidence in their housing situation and where a person's living conditions does not make them more vulnerable to a pandemic'

I support the Plan For Government policy to provide free contraception for 17-25 year olds and the provision of safe zones. I also think it is important to address period poverty with free menstruation products available where appropriate.

I look forward to a time where minority and vulnerable groups can face the autumn/winter with confidence in their housing situation and where a person's living conditions in Galway does not make them more vulnerable to a pandemic as a result of overcrowding, direct provision, or limited sanitary facilities.

I look forward to the development. engagement, and education around the Pollinator plan. Some people saw uncut, untidy, grass, but some saw life and hope for our planet in the same long grass.

Ollie Crowe

Fianna Fáil senator

Covid-19 has left its mark on countries and cities across the world, including Ireland and Galway. The world slowed down and we were all prioritising the same thing: How can we keep our families safe? How can we maintain contact with friends and our wider families"

During the pandemic, the best of our communities have shone through. We have seen healthcare and front-line workers showing up every day despite a risk to life; communities looking after their vulnerable members; families making heartbreaking sacrifices, such as having funerals with only immediate family members present; and grandparents not going near grandchildren.

Thus far, we have limited the damage caused by Covid-19 in Galway, and Ireland, by acting together. We isolated, took basic precautions like hand washing and social distancing. We need to continue that as the pandemic has not gone away and we cannot undo our good work now.

Covid-19 will pass at some point, and many of the staples of this period, such as Zoom family quizzes, will probably stop too, but I hope we retain at least some of the spirit and unity that has been central to our navigation of this period.

I’m excited by what Galway could achieve with such a unity of purpose. Already we are seeing positive changes with the pedestrianisation (albeit temporary, for now ) of some city centre streets which will assist both people and businesses. Reducing speed limits to 30km per hour is also being considered and should be introduced.

Having been on Galway City Council for the last decade, I know how much demand there is for housing in the city. I met with Minister Darragh O’Brien last week to discuss this and, while I understand there will be sceptics, I am a firm believer that this Government will deliver on housing in a major way and there will be a significant amount of affordable housing delivered for Galway. Minister O’Brien is visiting Galway in early August and will have further conversations with councillors and elected reps to discuss plans and priorities.

'The Government's July Stimulus package will implement significant supports for SMEs and increase their chances of surviving a crisis not of their making'

Galway is known for being a city of activity. Invariably, when you meet someone from elsewhere in Ireland they express their fondness for Galway and Race Week or the arts festival, the Clarenbridge Oyster festival, etc. I hope by next summer we will be able to enjoy them as intended once again, but I am also thinking about, as I know others are, how we could enhance them. Coming from the hospitality background myself, I know this summer festival period is essential for businesses in that industry.

First, we need to ensure such businesses survive until then. The Government's July Stimulus package will implement significant supports for SMEs and increase their chances of surviving a crisis not of their making.

Covid-19 will leave scars but I believe Galway will emerge strengthened, with a population that knows it can depend on one another, ready to welcome visitors once more, in a city that has been enhanced by changes made as we emerge from this crisis.

Declan McDonnell

Independent councillor for Galway City East

Declan McDonnell

Sixty years ago, as a 12-year-old boy, I got involved in the first committee in my club, Mervue United, at the request of adults. As the years go by I see the town of Galway in 1960 and the city of Galway in 2020. Then I see over the 60 years the value of community in the changing of a town to a city.

Galway has changed over my lifetime and will change again in the future, but the biggest thing we as individuals can do is help to create an environment for working together for the betterment of this great city.

Times have changed, Galway had a population of only 25,000 then and now has a population of +80,000. The forecast for the next 20 years is this city will grow to 120,000. Nobody can do this on their own, so we must have Government, regional, and our local authority working together to create a sense of place, of region, and a sense of country.

We must reflect on the past and recognise how our parents and grandparents have brought this city to where we are today, and to also remember who we are and how we can continue in the tradition of making Galway one of the greatest cities to visit and to live for people of all ages.

'We must be conscious of all ages and all creeds. If we listen and communicate with each other, we will get it right for the future'

I believe that, unless we have respect for one another, and for all cultures, we are not going to achieve this. Galway has always had a wonderful tradition of volunteerism and this has been even more evident in the last four months, by the way people have helped those who most need our help. Most young and old and particularly the front line staff have been exemplary and deserve our thanks.

As I look into my view of the future, I think of many things that we can achieve and must achieve. We must look at our traffic and create one-way systems to allow for bus lanes, cycle lanes, etc. We must also think of our middle-income earners who are struggling on one hand to qualify for social housing, but earn too little to buy their own. We must create an environment where everyone has a chance to have their own home at an affordable price.

In the last number of years, Galway and Ireland has really changed. We have now seen a National Framework Plan and a Regional Spatial Economic Strategy. We must not leave behind the most vulnerable and the people with disabilities.

We must be conscious of all ages and all creeds. This, if we get it right, will give us a place to live and enjoy for many years to come. Galway city is already a great place to live and travel experts regularly report that it is one of the most desirable places in the world to visit. If we listen and communicate with each other, we will get it right for the future.


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