Date Published: 28-Apr-2011
If the world needed a reminder of what happens when nuclear energy goes wrong, it got it in March when there was an explosion at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in the wake of an earthquake and a tsunami. One of the most developed countries in the world was forced to dump seawater from helicopters to tackle the explosions at the plant’s reactors.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the area, thousands more warned to remain indoors. Many had no running water or electricity, while vegetables, milk and even the nearby sea, were contaminated.
The Fukushima disaster was ranked as a Level 7 on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, putting it on the same scale as Chernobyl disaster, which occurred on April 26, 1986.
The millions of people in the Ukraine and Belarus, who survived that disaster don’t need any reminding about the havoc a nuclear explosion can cause.
Chernobyl’s impact on people’s lives was far worse, because the USSR government didn’t inform people of the accident until April 29, after Sweden detected contaminated ash cloud in its airspace. Also, that nuclear disaster added to social problems which were rife in the former USSR.
A quarter of a century on, Chernobyl’s impact is still being felt in Belarus, where 70 per cent of the nuclear waste fell, according to scientific reports on the accident. That is why groups like the Aughrim based Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal Children’s Charity are needed.
The group was set up in 1999 as an independent charity by Pat Dillon, who was working as a Garda in Tipperary when he was introduced to children who were visiting from Belarus, getting a break from their contaminated environment.
“I didn’t mean to get involved. It just happened,” he says with a laugh.
Pat decided to set up the voluntary group because he and others wanted to help provide badly needed building and development projects in Belarus.
“We had a lot of men involved, so it seemed like a good idea to start providing facilities for kids,” adds Pat who is joined for our interview by fellow volunteer Declan Manning, and Pat’s adopted son 11-year-old, Greb, who was born in Belarus and became part of the Dillon family when he was 18 months old.
At present, the Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal is involved in some 15 schemes to assist children whose lives are still affected by Chernobyl as well as by the many social problems in Belarus.
Pat and several members of the group are just back from Belarus where they were preparing for volunteers who are going out there in May to complete a number of building projects. They were also organising visas for 25 children to visit Ireland.
The Sunflower Chernobyl group has built day-care centres in various parts of Belarus and is now putting the finishing touches to a centre for 170 children who have special needs in an area south of the country. It’s about 150 miles away from Chernobyl in a place designated as ‘medium contaminated’.
The group of volunteers will also be completing two houses located outside the walls of an orphanage in north east Belarus. Designed for special needs orphans, these are due to open in July.
Each house will accommodate six orphans aged from 19-28. At the moment, the orphanage houses 400 people aged between four and 28, all of them with special needs. But as they get older, they are destined for an adult mental institution unless – which is unlikely – they find somebody willing to adopt them. This new facility gives those orphans a far better option.
Pat has a folder of photos – some very upsetting – of teenage boys in cots in orphanages. He doesn’t want them printed; it wouldn’t be fair on the youngsters, he says. One of them, who is now 17 or 18, has been in the orphanage’s high dependency unit for years and is just lying there. Another is about 14, although his wasted body tells a different story – he looks like a five-year-old.
“We are hoping to put in a sensory room for these children,” says Pat and Declan adds that they also intend to renovate and brighten up the rooms of bed-ridden children.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.