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Connacht Tribune

Appointments ease threat to Portiuncula

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A serious threat hanging over the emergency department at Portiuncula Hospital has been eased with the appointment or approval of ten key senior staff.

However, its future as a round-the-clock accident and emergency unit still hangs in the balance, with management of the hospital group currently reviewing a draft review which recommends its downgrade due to the lack of out-of-hours consultant cover.

Galway’s only voice at the Cabinet table – the newly appointed Minister for Communications and Climate Change Denis Naughten – said limiting the hours at the emergency department had been a red-line issue for him during the negotiations with independent TDs to round up support for the Fine Gael-led minority government.

This week he released a letter from the outgoing health minister Leo Varadkar, which indicated no decision had been taken by the Saolta Hospital Group. While the draft report was being examined by hospital management, it had had not been provided to the Department of Health.

“The Saolta Hospital Group has today clarified that the report is in draft form. The Group has also advised that it is cognisant that any draft report will have to be reviewed and approved by the HSE Acute Hospitals Division and the Department before finalisation,” according to the policy adviser to Minister Varadkar.

“At the time of preparation of the draft report, there were challenges at Portiuncula Hospital regarding adequate consultant cover and consequently the draft report comments on the capacity to provide 24 hour emergency department (ED) service at the Hospital in light of safety concerns,” staffer Philip O’Callaghan states.

“However, the draft report also notes that the nearest 24 hour ED in Galway does not have the extra necessary capacity at present.  Consequently the draft report identifies the preferred solution as being to hire extra staff and/or to put in place joint appointments with Galway University Hospital and other surrounding hospitals, which would permit maintenance of 24/7 coverage at Portiuncula.”

“The Saolta Group has provided an update regarding the consultant staffing at Portiuncula Hospital. The staffing situation has improved at Portiuncula, in particular with the recent hiring one extra ED consultant (now two in post) and four new medical consultants (previously one).”

The letter details a long list of new recruits.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years

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Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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