World of Politics with Harry McGee – firstname.lastname@example.org
Budget Day is one of only a handful of days in the political year when the Dáíl chamber is literally standing room only. It’s not as if they’ve come to witness an inspirational and evangelical speaker. If you are looking for entertainment, it’s usually in the responses.
For the last few years, Fianna Fáil – because they are accomplices, or accessories before the fact – can’t really stick the boot in so their speeches have tended to be bland.
You always know an election budget. The debit column is massive with spending galore and tax cuts, with a big deficit being run.
So if that is the yardstick, there is no election – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are happy to stick it out for another year.
There is more spending than we anticipated, with cuts in income tax and the USC take. A total of €1.5 billion for new spending and tax cuts is a fair amount but not enough to tip the balance in favour of an election in the near future.
In the lead-up, there was a tug-of-war between the VAT restoration versus increases in the price of diesel and fuel.
VAT was the loser, despite junior Coalition partners the Independent Alliance lobbying for the lower rate to be retained.
Paschal Donohoe presented a binary option – if VAT stays the same, then diesel and carbon tax will have sharp rises.
The prospect of a diesel increase at the petrol pumps would have been very unpopular and hit a large majority of motorists.
Fianna Fáíl had demands for affordable housing, flagged since September (that’s a €300 million package).
Some Independent Alliance asks, including the granny flat allowance of €15,000 have also made it in.
That’s quite a good idea, allowing downsizers the opportunity of splitting their home to allow others live there.
Even with the main opposition party abstaining, the numbers are always tight. It was interesting to see Peter Fitzpatrick, in his new status as an Independent on the Opposition benches.
All eyes too were focused on other Independents like Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish, Michael Harty, and the Healy Raes. The excise measures were the the only Budget Day votes and it was never likely that votes on increases for tobacco and cigarettes would be lost.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer
On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.
Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.
While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.
“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.
“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”
Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!
Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.
But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.
The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.
She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.
The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.
“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.
“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”
Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery
Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.
But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.
The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.
To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.
“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.
But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.
Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie