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All-weather pitch may be lost due to ‘complacency’

Dara Bradley

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Fears heightened this week that a planned new Astroturf soccer pitch for Knocknacarra may be lost due to ‘political complacency’, and a lack of will to ‘match’ Government funding.

It was warned this week that some €250,000 of Government funding, which is earmarked for the new pitch at Cappagh Park, could be in jeopardy because Galway City Council isn’t matching the funding to complete the project.

Concerns were expressed that the €250,000 could be lost unless the ruling pact on the City Council moves to protect it, and votes to match it in next week’s budget.

Earlier this year three Council-supported projects received grant aid under the Government’s Sports Capital Grants allocation.

They included about €50,000 for St James’ GAA pitches in Mervue; some €43,000 for a sand-based pitch for Corrib Rangers soccer club in Westside; and €250,000 for a floodlit Astroturf soccer pitch at Cappagh Park in Knocknacarra.

At Monday’s Council meeting, management at City Hall indicated that funding for the St James’ and Corrib Park pitches would be available in 2015.

But officials ‘stayed schtum’ about the prospect of Cappagh Park’s new pitch proceeding next year.

Despite repeated questioning from Fianna Fáil City Councillor Peter Keane, the executive would not say if the matching funding of €125,000 would be available to start the Cappagh Park pitch in 2015, a project that will cost €315,000.

“The silence from officials and the top table was deafening – Director of Services Tom Connell looked at Stephen Walsh (senior executive parks superintendent), Stephen Walsh looked at the roof, the mayor (Cllr Donal Lyons) said nothing and neither officials answered the question,” said Cllr Keane.

“I now have very real concerns that this project is not going to start next year as planned because the City Council is not making provision for it in this year’s Budget. What will happen next March is officials will turn around and say ‘you didn’t make provision in the budget for it, we can’t do it’.

There is a danger that this project could be delayed because of complacency in the ruling pack of Councillors that includes Fine Gael, Labour and Independents. The pact either doesn’t understand that the project is in jeopardy or it doesn’t care about the people of Knocknacarra and it is complacent.

“The Government doesn’t just throw around €250,000 for the sake of it – it gave this money because the project was shovel ready, and it was an urgent project but my fear now is that this funding could be in jeopardy because the pact’s complacency,” added Cllr Keane.

He said it made sense to proceed with the Cappagh Park from an economic perspective as well as a social and sporting one because it will be a revenue generating facility.

Meanwhile, Mr Walsh confirmed that the pitches at Westside Sports Campus, which house St Michael’s GAA, are on schedule to open next September.

Connacht Tribune

New York-based Galwegian thrives in heart of virus epi-centre

Denise McNamara

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Tadhg Reynolds in Times Square, on the empty streets of Manhattan.

An aspiring entrepreneur and Galway native, who had just set up a digital marketing company in New York when the pandemic struck, continues to work twelve-hour days as companies scramble to stay afloat.

Tadhg Reynolds, 24, from Kinvara, left for a better life exactly a year ago, on graduating from NUIG with a degree in Business Information Systems.

On his arrival, he joined a digital marketing start-up in Manhattan focused on e-commerce before branching out on his own, concentrating on Facebook ads, email and Instagram posts for companies in the US as well as in Ireland.

And then Covid-19 sent shockwaves around the world.

America is now the epi-centre of the pandemic and New York has been hardest hit, with 12,000 new cases confirmed and 600 deaths recorded on the day Tadhg spoke to the Connacht Tribune.

Tadhg had been worried that his newly found business would fall by the wayside as digital marketing is usually the first thing cut in hard times.

“I’ve actually started taking on new clients – companies selling home exercise equipment, hand sanitisers, hand moisturisers are doing really well so I’m helping them capitalise and everything seems to be going ok,” he remarks.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals plan for anticipated virus upsurge

Dara Bradley

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ICU staff at Portiuncula Hospital – with a very clear message for the public. Photo taken by hospital staff because of visiting restrictions.

Extra space to store dead bodies prior to burials and cremations has been added at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

Upgrade works at the mortuary had already started prior to the Covid-19 crisis but additional capacity for potential coronavirus deaths was added as a worst case scenario precaution.

‘Preliminary talks’ about the possibility of opening a temporary field hospital in Galway, if in the worst-case scenario the four city hospitals fill-up, have also taken place as part of the HSE’s wide-ranging pandemic plans.

The capacity planning comes as Dr Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director of Saolta Hospitals Group this week warned we are ‘far from over the hump’ in relation to Covid-19 infections and deaths, even though the public’s compliance with social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus.

The latest figures confirm there were a total of 128 positive cases of Covid-19 in Galway, as of midnight on Sunday, compared with 86 the previous Sunday. That’s up 42 cases in a week, but Sunday’s sharp rise of 16 new cases accounted for almost 40%.

Several hospital sources confirmed that temporary refrigerated prefabricated buildings have been installed alongside the morgue. These have increased by many multiples the 15 spaces in the existing, permanent morgue. An autopsy theatre at the morgue has been moved temporarily to the Fever Hospital building at UHG.

Members of the public who contacted the Connacht Tribune had noticed building work at the city morgue at UHG.

Dr Nash said some construction work was progressing beside the morgue on a new laboratory building that will accommodate the blood and tissue establishment unit. That unit was previously granted planning permission as part of an extension to the morgue.

 

See full story – and a further 20 pages of coverage of the Covid-19 crisis – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

NUIG research team found pandemic was long on the cards

Denise McNamara

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NUIG Professor Máire Connolly.

Back in 2017, a research report led by NUIG Professor Máire Connolly warned that the risk of a pandemic emerging was greater than ever before.

Influenza viruses originating in animals was first in the list of identified threats to human health.

“The timing and origin of the next pandemic is uncertain, but improved preparedness can minimise the impact on human lives and health, and the disruption to economies and societies that results,” she remarked on the publication of the EU ‘Pandem’ report following 18 months of research.

It was unfortunately all too prescient.

“It is a little bit eerie looking back,” Prof Connolly admits this week. “I don’t think we actually envisaged it would be as harrowing as it is.”

The Galway City native’s previous roles with the World Health Organisation (WHO) revolved around health security and disease control in emergencies. She worked with the organisation between 1995 and 2012, often at the heart of devastating crises in the likes of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Iran, Gaza, East Timor, Uganda and Syria..

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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