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Booze-related health bill up by a third in six years



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

By Dara Bradley

The Health Service Executive West (HSE) is spending well over €4m a year in Galway on treating patients for diseases and illnesses that are wholly attributable to alcohol consumption.

The new official figures, based on data over a six years period, shows that the direct cost of treating patients for ailments that are 100% attributable to alcohol has increased by almost one third since 2006.

The figures show that more than €22 million was spent in Galway’s public hospitals, UHG, Merlin Park and Portiuncula, between 2006 and 2011, on treating patients for illnesses that are wholly attributable to alcohol.

That amount was spent on treating alcohol liver disease, degeneration of the nervous system due to alcohol, mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol, as well as other alcohol diseases directly related to alcohol consumption.

The statistics show that in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, some €4.6 million was spent on treatments of patients wholly attributable to alcohol. That included 528 patients and 735 discharges from in-patients’ departments of the three hospitals. The number of discharges is higher due to the same patients being admitted several times during the year.

In 2006 it cost €3.2 million, in 2007 it cost €3.4 million, in 2008 cost €3.6 million, in 2009 it cost €3.4 million, and it cost €3.5 million in 2010.

The overall cost of alcohol consumption to the health service is grossly underestimated by these statistics, however, according to experts.

Fiona Donovan, Galway Healthy Cities Coordinator, Health Services Promotion of HSE, told the Connacht Sentinel that the true cost of alcohol to Galway is far higher than the average of €3.6 million annually in the past six years.

“The cost is huge. There is a whole raft of other alcohol related diseases and illnesses that are not included in these figures. These statistics do not take into account the cost of treating patients for alcohol related injuries in the Emergency Departments, nor do they factor in the effects of alcohol on diabetes, obesity and mental health. The statistics also don’t include the cost of treating cancers or diseases that might only be partly attributable to alcohol; it only calculates the cost of illnesses that are 100% attributable to alcohol,” said Ms Donovan.

The statistics were released yesterday to coincide with the launch of the new Galway City Alcohol Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm. It was officially launched by Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White TD, in Jigsaw Galway.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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