Between pandemic and Brexit, business needs to stay positive, says new Chamber president

'Delivery of the Galway City Ring Road is essential for the development of the region and to reduce congestion in the city'

The new president of Galway Chamber has said that in this challenging era, lodged between the Covid-19 outbreak and the impending Brexit, businesses have to remain positive and focused.

J.P. Gilmartin, a Partner of Ronan Daly Jermyn law firm, was last week confirmed as the new President of Galway Chamber at a board meeting, succeeding Dave Hickey who had held the post for two years.

Speaking about his new role, Mr Gilmartin said he starts his tenure amid a pandemic and in the prelude to a tough Brexit, so these are very challenging and difficult times for businesses and our economy. “In times like this we need, more than ever, to remain positive, ambitious and focused on our objectives as a Chamber. “

Mr. Gilmartin outlined some of his key priorities for the year ahead, saying that the issue of tran sportis one that will dog Galway for the coming years.

“In relation to transport, we will continue to lobby on sustainable transport, through our campaign ‘Get Galway Moving’. There needs to be a fundamental change in the nature of our approach to transport to achieve the required improvements in climate impact and quality of life,” he said.

Projects

JP Gilmartin and Dave Hickey

JP Gilmartin and Dave Hickey.

Mr Gilmartin also called on the new Government to deliver on critical projects that are crucial for the development and growth of the region.

“Delivery of the Galway City Ring Road is a key deliverable in the context of implementing the Galway Transportation Strategy and it is essential for the development of the region. It will reduce congestion in the city, reduce carbon emissions and allow for viable alternatives to private car usage such as improved cycle lanes, bus routes and pedestrian facilities”.

He said that ensuring access to high quality broadband is essential to the development of the regions both socially and economically. “We will work with and lobby relevant stakeholders for the accelerated roll out of the National Broadband Plan and the roll out of enterprise hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor.”

'In times like this we need, more than ever, to remain positive, ambitious and focused'

He reitered the commitment of Galway Chamber to support the redevelopment and extension of Galway Port as he feels it will safeguard the future of the Port, attract new businesses and facilitate the economic growth of the region.

Mr Gilmartin also highlighted the work Galway Chamber has been doing over the last few months in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

“In response to the pandemic the Chamber set-up the Business Recovery Forum, engaging with businesses across all sectors. The Chamber has been liaising on a local level with the Galway City Mobility Team and on a national level with the Department of Finance and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Chambers Ireland relaying Galway businesses concerns and recommendations. We support:

Commercial rates

— Extend the waiver for those who had closed and are struggling to reopen

— Agree a proportional waiver for those who remained open but however are significantly impacted

— Reset the basis on which future rates revaluations are set to 2020 rental yields as opposed to 2019 yields, as was the basis of the work last year in a pre Covid-19 world

Wage Subsidy Scheme

— Agree proportional continuation of the subsidy scheme for all who are on it with an agreed level of tapering off to afford business owners the ability to project and manage payroll costs and cashflow

— Continuation of the scheme into 2021 for certain sectors who have been considerably impacted

Grants/Funding

“At present the levels of grant aid are very low and aligned to rateable businesses, we need to increase the amount of funding, aligned to levels of employees.

“Separately we need to allow a different mechanism separate to rates, as many businesses in the services and tourism sector do not pay rates, yet urgently require restart funding support,” he said.

Mr Gilmartin concluded by paying thanks to the work of outgoing president Dave Hickey highlighting his “relentless drive, dedication, commitment and ambition for this city and region over the past two years in representing the voice of members and advocating for Galway at every opportunity.”

'We have a new strategy and ambitious plans for the coming 12 months. The skills, knowledge and experience of the Council will be essential in giving effect to those plans'

Galway Chamber hosted their 229th Annual General Meeting on Thursday July 16 in the Clayton Hotel Galway. This meeting was in hybrid format, both online and in-person, to accommodate social distancing guidelines and the statutory requirements of the meeting.

The meeting also saw the retirement of Peter Allen, MacDermot and Allen Solicitors and Company Secretary of Galway Chamber, and David Niland, Galway Business School. J.P. Gilmartin thanked them for their many years of service, both of whom served as President of Galway Chamber, and their upstanding service to the Galway Chamber membership over the years. J.P. congratulated the incoming Council, who were elected at the AGM.

The Council for the 2020/21 term is as follows: Elaine Brick – Aecom Ltd; Aengus Burns – Grant Thornton; Brian Carey – Bank of Ireland; Lorraine McIlrath – NUI Galway; Frank Greene – Galway Technology Centre; Dave Hickey – Leading at the Edge; Shane MacSweeney – MacSweeney & Co; Enda McGuane – Winters Property Managemen; Dermot Nolan – HeadSpace; Conor O’Dowd – The Port of Galway; Dr. Orla Flynn – GMIT; Maurice O’Gorman - Rocky Shore Limited; Pat Piggott – AIB; Eveanna Ryan – Connacht Hospitality Group; Patricia Staunton – Cushman & Wakefield; Patrick Horkan – KPMG; Brian Mahony – Connacht Rugby; Keith Finnegan – Galway Bay FM and Dorothy Creaven – Rent the Runway

Kenny Deery, CEO of Galway Chamber stated that he and the team are looking forward to working with J.P. and this Council elected for the term 2020/21. “We have a new strategy and ambitious plans for the coming 12 months. The skills, knowledge and experience of the Council will be essential in giving effect to those plans,” he said.

 

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