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Connacht Tribune

Aran air service protest takes flight with Galway meeting

Enda Cunningham

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Aer Arann Islands is set to seek a High Court injunction against the decision to award an air service contract for the three Galway islands to a helicopter operator.

The decision by Gaeltacht Minister Joe McHugh to award the Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract to Executive Helicopters in a cost-cutting move has met with massive opposition from people living and working on the three islands.

An estimated 700 people attended a protest in Furbo on Tuesday – where the Minister met with local elected representatives – calling on the Minister to re-tender for the service from Conamara Airport and to exclude a helicopter service.

Islanders believe a helicopter service would be unreliable because of the West of Ireland weather, and in the event of cancelled flights, they would have to travel 52km from Galway Airport through city traffic to the ferry port in Ros a’ Mhíl.

Their existing journey from Conamara Airpot to the ferry is just 8km – less than ten minutes.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh – who is from Carraroe – said it ‘beggared belief’ that the decision was taken without consultation and pointed out it would cost 40 jobs at Aer Arann.

“It beggars belief that a decision with such immense consequences for the future of the island communities might have been taken – without even consulting with the very people who use the service as part of the adjudication process.

“Who was on the evaluation panel and what experience they have in running an air service to offshore islands?

“Did any of them visit the islands during the process and what weighting was given to the public submissions as the applications were being appraised?

“There are 40 direct jobs at stake here and it would seem incredible that 45 years of continued, high-quality service given by Aer Arann might be jettisoned at this point without ensuring that a more superior and improved service would be replacing it and that certainly is not clear at this stage,” said Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

While the helicopter company has been selected as the ‘preferred bidder’ for the air service, a contract has not yet been signed.

That decision would see Aer Arann Islands’ fixed-wing airplane service – nearly forty flights per week between the three islands and the airport in Indreabhán – replaced by a helicopter service from Galway Airport with a requirement for a minimum of two return flights daily.

Aer Arann has previously operated up to 25 flights per day during peak season.

The company has indicated to Minister McHugh that it is considering a High Court injunction to prevent the contract being awarded.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears

Dara Bradley

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Saolta CEO Tony Canavan

Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.

There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.

But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.

There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.

Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.

“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.

“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.

“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure

Stephen Corrigan

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Chanelle McCoy (left) and Caroline Glynn with their new Pureis product line in Galway this week. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.

It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.

Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.

“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.

“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.

Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

State can’t leave Galway addiction services in limbo

Dara Bradley

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Any further delay in setting up an alcohol addiction treatment service in Galway City will result in more deaths, including suicides, of problem drinkers – and cause ‘total devastation’ to local families, addiction experts have warned.

Addiction Counsellors of Ireland (ACI) has demanded that the Health Service Executive (HSE) immediately establishes an alcohol treatment service in the city.

The professional body which accredits counsellors claims that GPs in Galway are ‘flooded’ with drink-related patients, and the Emergency Department ‘can’t cope’ with the level of alcohol admissions.

It said the long-awaited alcohol addiction treatment service planned for the city would save lives and save tens of thousands of euro on alcohol-related emergency admissions at University Hospital Galway.

Some €470,000 a year funding for the service was announced by the previous Government last December; and a commitment for the service was contained in the Programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party.

This week, Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, a Minister of State in the new administration, confirmed that some €225,000 for the service from now to Christmas, is available in the 2020 HSE budget to get the service up and running.

Local addiction counsellors have now demanded that the HSE urgently hire the staff, and source a building, to roll out the alcohol addiction service, which has been absent for the past seven years.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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