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Connacht Tribune

Children wait a year for mental health referral

Dara Bradley

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More than 200 Galway children with mental health problems have waited over a year for an appointment with local psychology services.  The lengthy waiting lists exist, despite €17.6 million of mental health funding earmarked for Galway and Roscommon over three years, having been returned unspent to central government.

The long waiting lists in Galway, and some other counties, has prompted Fianna Fáil to claim that there is “effectively an Eircode lottery” in primary care psychological services in this country.

The Galway figure – 208 children aged five to 17 waiting over a year – represents 10% of the 2,000 children who are on waiting lists psychology services.

The wait of more than a year is just for an initial appointment to assess what supports they require.

Junior Minister with responsibility for mental health, Jim Daly, has accepted that there are “issues and challenges”, including “management issues” that need to be addressed.

Minister Daly said he is in discussion with the department to develop a ‘front-door system’ of referrals, “whereby there is one point of contact for everybody who has a mental health issue who is seeking help” and “where a person dials the number he or she is appropriately referred”.

“At the moment, if a person wakes up and is feeling a bit low, it is not clear who to ring – ALONE, Jigsaw, primary care, the emergency department or the GP,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD, James Browne, said Ireland signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and yet there are currently 2,000 children – 208 of them in Galway – waiting over a year for primary care psychological services.

“It is fair to say that figures like those are clear evidence that there is a crisis in the provision of mental health services for children in the community. It is simply unacceptable that children have to wait for that length of time to get their first appointment just to assess where they are at or what supports they need.

“Vulnerable children and teenagers need the service and there is an obligation to provide it. We know there are significant regional variations across the country depending on where one is,” said Deputy Browne.

Minister Daly said the Health Service Executive has “a service improvement initiative” under way for psychology services. This includes the recruitment of people to fill an additional 22 psychologist posts and 114 assistant psychology posts. The posts were advertised recently, he said.

“A cross-divisional working group, including the mental health division, is working to ensure standardised delivery of service, setting out and communicating the arrangements for care pathways and reporting of metrics. Each community health care organisation has been requested to submit a short-term action plan to address waiting lists in priority areas as part of the service improvement initiative,” he said.

Minister Daly confirmed almost €18m of the Galway Roscommon mental health budget was returned to his department unspent for the years 2012 to 2014.

Connacht Tribune

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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