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Connacht Tribune

Charity calls for capitation hike to ease back-to-school burden

Dara Bradley

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The Government should restore capitation grants to pre-crash levels in order to allow schools to move away from ‘voluntary’ contributions, which heap pressure on already hard-pressed parents, according to Society of St Vincent de Paul.

As the largest voluntary charity in the west prepares to distribute hundreds of ‘back-to-school’ supplies to children across Galway, Roscommon and Mayo, SVP Western Region President Michael McCann has called for increased funding of the education sector to take the burden off struggling families.

“The back-to-school costs for parents are significant. If schools were funded better than they are, one of the things you’d get away from is the voluntary contributions, which have become increasingly less voluntary and have become increasingly bigger. To fund schools properly, restore the capitation grant to the level that it was in 2010. That wouldn’t even be an increase on what it was but it would be an improvement,” said Mr McCann.

In 2016, nationally the Society spent €3.7 million on education, he said, which included helping families meet voluntary contributions and pay for schoolbooks, shoes and uniforms.

Mr McCann has worked in education all his life and was principal of Presentation Secondary School in Galway City from 1988 to 2006.

“I’ve a certain empathy for the schools because I was a school principal for long enough. At a certain level, the capitation grant for schools covers a certain amount but the bigger the school, at secondary rather than primary, the better it’s funded because it’s based on capitation.

“Now if you have a school of 300 students and one of 600, it doesn’t cost twice as much to heat the one of 600 students but you’re getting twice as much in capitation.

“I’m not saying they’re getting too much but pointing out that smaller schools are finding it difficult.

“Parents are being asked to bridge the gap in funding. Parents are under pressure from the basics first of all, in terms of school uniforms and school books. Then there are trips and swimming and various other things . . . Free education is not free in this country,” he said.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara

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Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara

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Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

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

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