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City hospitals chief urged to outline impact of latest ban



Date Published: 08-Aug-2011

By Dara Bradley

The clinical director of Galway’s two public hospitals has been called upon to issue a public statement regarding the impact a blanket ban on recruitment of staff will have on patient care at Merlin Park and UHG.

Dr David O’Keeffe has twice in the past 18 months publicly said he could not stand over any further cutbacks at the two hospitals. But it emerged over the weekend that a blanket ban on recruitment is to be introduced by the HSE nationally in order to reign in a budget deficit of €179 million.

There has been an embargo on staff recruitment for several years but key personnel were exempt up to now. This latest blanket ban means that junior doctors and social workers, among other important frontline staff, will no longer be exempt and cannot be recruited.

Their positions will remain vacant and will not be replaced resulting in further strain on an already creaking public hospital system.

HSE West Forum member City Councillor Catherine Connolly said she cannot understand how Dr O’Keeffe can stand over any more cuts.

“The clinical director said twice at public meetings that he could not operate a hospital if there were any more cuts and I cannot understand how he can stand over these latest cutbacks. He was very brave for saying it and I gave him credit for his statements that he wouldn’t stand for any more cuts but how can he stand over this further cutback. He will have to make a statement on these cuts are impacting on patients,” she said.

The HSE West, when asked what impact this latest blanket ban would have on patients at Galway’s two public hospitals, in a statement said: “While every effort will be made to minimise impact on services across the health system, measures need to be taken to reduce the national deficit of €179m to date. During this time arrangements are in place for exceptions to address critical service risk.”

Cllr Connolly said she didn’t know what this statement meant and said that HSE forum members haven’t been informed of anything from the HSE about the cutbacks. She criticised the Labour Party for continuing the policies of the previous government of pumping money into the private hospital sector as the public hospitals are being rundown.

Cllr Connolly added: “I despair . . . a private clinic in Galway has applied last week for a planning application to extend because it’s doing so well and the public hospitals are going under. You cannot run a public service with a recruitment embargo. Public money is going into private hospitals . . . nurses and doctors are leaving the public hospitals to go to private hospitals and the public service is going under."

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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