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Answers sought on Knocknacarra health centre

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Independent Galway City West Councillor, Donal Lyons, has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to provide the people of Knocknacarra with an update on the primary care health centre the community was promised eight years ago.

The most heavily populated suburb in the city was earmarked as an area with a growing population by the Department of Health in 2008 and so was recommended as a location for one of the centres.

Primary care centres are designed to reduce overcrowding in hospitals by providing acute services such as GP care, a public health and practice nurse, a physiotherapist and occupational therapist as well as other services to people living within the community.

This ensures that those requiring urgent or planned medical treatment can receive it safely and professionally in a community based setting.

Doughiska was recommended as an area in need of a facility at the same time. That recommendation has since been delivered upon in the form of the East City Primary Care Centre.

According to Cllr Lyons, people have been approaching him wondering what became of their proposed primary care centre.

“They look across to the eastern side of the city and they see the primary care centre based in the centre of the population,” he said.

Due to the lack of these facilities, Cllr Lyons pointed out that elderly residents in Knocknacarra have to go to St. Francis’ Home in Newcastle to access some medical services.

While he admitted that this is a short journey to make, he believed it would be of benefit to local residents to have these facilities available in their own community.

This is especially important, according to Cllr Lyons, as Knocknacarra has a significant ageing population, and given that the population of the Westside suburb continues to grow.

Plans had been in place for the centre to be opened above the recently constructed Aldi supermarket in Knocknacarra. However, these plans were scaled back when, according to Cllr Lyons, ‘the doctors didn’t buy into it’.

Cllr Lyons maintained that finding a suitable site for the project would not be a problem if an assurance was given that the plan would go ahead.

“Down through the years, we have procured sites for community centres, schools and playing pitches. If they were committed to this, there’s plenty of land available around Knocknacarra,” he exclaimed.

Cllr Lyons has asked Independent TD for the area, Noel Grealish, to put a question to the Minister seeking assurances that the centre will go ahead without any further delay. He explained that Deputy Grealish was more than happy to ask the question on behalf of his constituents but it is now up to the department or the HSE to give answers to the people of Knocknacarra.

He also called on people to use the general election campaign as an opportunity to put pressure on candidates to ensure that this commitment is delivered on.

“It’s regrettable that we have to go down this road but it is time we started shouting about this,” he said.

He also acknowledged that there are funding difficulties for a project such as this but that, in the long term, these centres save much needed resources.

“We need this for the community going forward,” he said.

Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Workers leave hospitality sector to seek job security

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Pearse Doherty...morale has never been lower.

The severe restrictions for hospitality and entertainment are widely expected to be lifted next month – but already workers in the sector are reportedly leaving in their droves to source more stable employment.

And that could spell disaster for Galway’s vibrant arts industry which is a crucial cog in the wheel of local tourism.

When Covid regulations are eased for those staging events – thought to be announced this week – one of their biggest challenges is to secure staff for operations, according to prominent Galway event organiser Pearse Doherty.

Morale has never been lower in the industry, with even loyal customers getting fed up having to book and reschedule constantly when the goalposts shift so many times for shows.

“I really think it’s going to be very difficult for any venue going back or festival being staged. I don’t think things are ever going to go back to normal. Any event over 5,000 people will likely have to have fewer tents, a bigger space – all these things have to be taken into consideration for people who invest in the business,” he reflects.

“Having 50 per cent capacity and closing time at 8pm does nothing to make things financially viable. A lot of business models are built on having a bar and selling to 100 per cent capacity so I’m just not sure how many will survive the pandemic, even with all the very welcome Government supports for the industry.”

He knows of many in the industry who are changing careers or moving abroad in search of work in a location where restrictions nowhere as strict.

The head of production for the doomed Galway Capital of Culture 2020, head of production for Aiken Promotions which is behind the biggest gigs in the country and the site manager for the Electric Picnic, Pearse has himself pivoted in his career, taking up the role of producer with Fíbín Theatre at An Taibhdhearc.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway author dedicates children’s book to brave young nephew battling DMD

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Dedication....Fionn Brogan – new book aims to help in his fight.

A flying mouse with a skill for hurling is the subject of a book a Galway man has dedicated to his cousin’s son – six-year-old Fionn Brogan who, like Lumo the mouse, must overcome a myriad of challenges in his everyday life.

Ballinderreen man Tom Costelloe tells the Connacht Tribune he wrote the book to raise funds for his cousin Michael’s son, inspired by the strength and resilience Fionn has shown since his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just three years old.  A disease which attacks the muscles, DMD will leave Fionn unable to play football or do many of the things he loves to do as time goes on.

As a result, his family wants to raise enough funds to make the next few years the best possible for Fionn – and aim to adapt their house so he can freely use a power wheelchair among other alterations that will be required.

For Tom, who works as a speech and language therapist, the Covid lockdowns presented an opportunity to put pen to paper and create this story of Lumo, a mouse with wings.

“With a positive message of self-acceptance, the story is brought to life with wonderful colourful illustrations by Thomas Quinn from Kinvara.

“Like Lumo the flying mouse, Fionn and his family have no shortage of strength, resilience and sprit – and thanks to our printing costs being generously sponsored, every euro raised from the sales goes directly to the Fionn Brogan trust,” he says.

Tom, who lives in Galway City, says the family had a series of fundraisers over the past year and he hopes this will add to the momentum of achieving what’s necessary to support Fionn as he continues to defy all odds.

And through his work, he’s had a good research group to test-run Lumo – getting very positive feedback.

“I work with kids so they became my research team, and they were very useful in making sure the book was of interest,” he laughs.

‘Could a Flying Mouse Play Hurling?’ is available in in Clarke’s Pharmacy Kilcolgan, Burke’s Eurospar Kinvara, Circle-K Kinvara, Poppyseed Café Clarinbridge and First Chapter in Gort.  For more information on the Fionn Brogan Trust, visit fionnbrogantrust.ie where donations can also be made.

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