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Charity releases cash for LGBT resource centre

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The Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP) has confirmed that it will release the first tranche of a €45,000 grant to help fund a resource centre for the gay community this month.

The money will enable the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) support group Amach to recruit a part-time community development support worker to run the centre.

Teach Solais LGBT Resource Centre located at Victoria Place off Eyre Square is due to open by the end of January as a drop-in during the day at weekends and on Wednesdays. The centre will be used in the evenings for meetings, peer support and the LGBT helpline. Workshops for education, training, counselling and various health promotion events will be held at the space.

The Society said it was satisfied with the governance arrangements for the resource centre and that all “obligations of oversight” were met when the grant was approved.

“The SVP considers the project to be an excellent concept in providing a safe meeting place for members of the LGBT community and their families in Galway and surrounding areas and is very much in line with the Society’s mission in supporting people who may be marginalised, or experiencing problems such as loneliness, social isolation, exclusion, discrimination, bullying and mental health issues,” the charity said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Amach said it welcomed SVP’s supportive statement.

“We are looking forward to the new year and to the many positive developments for Galway’s LGBT community when the centre opens,” said a spokesperson for Amach.

Late last year the charity declined to comment on reports that it had ‘stood down’ the SVP St Augustine’s Conference which administered the Maureen O’Connell Fund and awarded the grant. It had been approved by the organisation’s National Management Council (NMC).

The fund was “winding down” as over 90% of its funds had been spent or approved for 60 beneficial projects, including funding for several resource centres and day care centres in Galway city and county as well as social housing and for a range of education projects for children.

There is approximately €350,000 which has not been allocated or approved from the €7.8m plus interest received from the bequest. The remainder will be managed by the NMC.

The project overcame another significant hurdle when the local authority approved €25,000 towards the cost of renting the building after an initial disagreement that it should go to the cost of buying a property.

In 2014, the Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan slammed the charity’s allocation toward a gay resource centre, which he said promotes a culture that was “morally wrong”. In letters sent to the SVP demanding an explanation, the Bishop hinted the allocation could jeopardise the relationship between the Church and the charity.

Publican Maureen O’Connell, who was unmarried and without children, left her landmark pub in Eyre Square to the charity when she died in 1998, specifying that it should only go towards projects in Galway. Legal wrangling over the will meant that it did not go on sale until the height of the Celtic Tiger when it was sold in 2006 for €14m.

The cost of a settlement with a tenant in the pub and legal bills as well as Capital Gains Tax swallowed up over €6m of the sale price.

Connacht Tribune

One half of Hollywood’s golden couple sings Galway’s praises after trip

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Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello and his chihuahua Bubbles, with Fergus Lally of Galway’s Celtic Chauffeurs at the Cliffs of Moher.

He may be married to the highest paid actress in the world, but that did not stop Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello savouring the best that Galway had to offer – hailing the people, the cheese, chocolate and salmon during his trip west.

The American actor, who played stripper Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Magic Mike, was not joined by Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara until a week later on his trip around Cork.

But he did ring his wife of six years in the US while exploring the countryside of south Galway and Clare with guide, Fergus Lally, who had picked him and his chihuahua Bubbles up from the Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Bushypark on the city’s edge.

“I had a great time with him. I brought him to the Cliffs of Moher and along the way we stopped off at the Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory, the cheese shop at the Aillwee Caves and he had a tasting at the Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna,” reveals Fergus.

“He had an amazing time tasting all the foods. The back of the car was full – everybody did well out of him. He was blown away with the places I brought him. He loved the history of the Corcomroe Abbey and Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. He was a great guy. I was delighted to drive him. The two of us just clicked.”

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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Connacht Tribune

Covid-19 outbreak compounds UHG crisis

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UHG's Emergency Department.

As Government applied the brakes on the planned full reopening of society this Friday, the West’s largest public hospital remained in a state of crisis – dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, large numbers of patients and lengthy wait times in its Emergency Department and postponed elective procedures.

An outbreak of Covid-19 at University Hospital Galway (UHG) was having a significant impact on critical care services, Saolta University Healthcare Group has warned.

UHG confirmed it was dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards of the city hospital. A further two wards were being used exclusively to treat Covid positive cases.

This was impacting other patients – elective procedures were postponed at UHG this week due a lack of beds.

On Monday, 41 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in UHG compared with 19 the same day last week.

Portiuncula was treating eight Covid positive patients on Monday, twice as many as last week.

There were two Covid patients in ICU in Ballinasloe and six in ICU in UHG; there were four in ICU in total at both hospitals last week.

Saolta said that people presenting at the Emergency Department in UHG were experiencing long waiting times.

“The hospital has seen a significant increase in patients presenting to the hospital and many of these patients are very sick and need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

“As a result of the ongoing pressures and lack of bed capacity a number of elective procedures are being postponed. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed,” Saolta said.

Read the full story – and our latest on Covid-19 – 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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Connacht Tribune

Galway lecturer’s transatlantic story of Boston dynasty and Irish roots

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Larry Donnelly, with the Bostonian, on the grounds of NUI Galway.

Of all the transatlantic cultural differences that greeted Bostonian Larry Donnelly on arrival in Galway, the search for a clean towel in something called a hot press left him puzzled and perplexed most of all. He also came to quickly realise that Hoover had so conquered the vacuum cleaner market that the brand name had become a verb.

But the Boston-born son of an Irish father and Scottish mother – from a famed American political dynasty with roots firmly embedded in Galway and the west – found infinitely more that united his old and new home than divided them.

His voice is familiar to radio listeners from his frequent analysis of American politics; his thoughts are already well-known to readers of his weekly column in TheJournal.ie – and law students at NUIG have benefited from his expertise in that field on both sides of the Atlantic.

He spent a fair portion of lockdown writing the Bostonian, a biography in part – not just his own, but of his family and his uncle, US Congressman Brian Donnelly (the man forever synonymous with the Donnelly Visas) in particular.

Typical of him, he rarely puts himself centre-stage but what he succeeds in doing is putting his life, his work and his journey into context. He was a man with roots on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean long before he ever made the journey to live here.

The photo on the cover of the Bostonian sets out the stall for the book, uniting uncle and nephew in an iconic pic; US Congressman Brian Donnelly marching in the 1983 Dorchester Day Parade in Boston – and an eight-year-old Larry Donnelly in the baseball cap looking up in wonderment.

“I’d always intended it to be a book about more than me. I particularly wanted it to be the story of Brian’s political career because that deserves to be told – but I didn’t think he would allow that to happen, because he has always loathed the limelight,” he says.

Read the full story – and an exclusive excerpt from the Bostonian – 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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