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Connacht Tribune

Community schemes’ cash caught in red tape

Denise McNamara

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Two community schemes in Galway to improve village recreational facilities are under threat – because of bureaucratic wrangling.

Last October, the Kilconnell Tidy Towns Committee was awarded €5,580 to create a pathway around their sensory garden – adjacent to the polytunnel used to grow vegetables – to allow access for wheelchairs, buggies and those with mobility issues.

And the Hymany Trail Walking Way was also granted €5,500 to lay reinforced matting on the section of the greenway between Portumna to Ballygar.

The funding application was submitted by the Galway Rural Development Company (GRD) on behalf of both community groups to the Department of Rural and Community Development which was overseeing the €12 million Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme as part of the Government’s ‘Action Plan for Rural Development’.

The schemes were to have been completed by the end of last year but the groups had applied for an extension, which was granted.

Now, however, six months on, the money has still not been handed over because of red tape between the Department and the GRD.

Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development Sean Canney said the delay was down to wrangling over who had responsibility for the maintenance of the projects completed.

Chairperson of Kilconnell Tidy Towns, Debbie Donnelly, said as part of the application they had to secure quotes from contractors and, of the ten they contacted, only two were willing to carry out the works.

This contractor has been put on hold for months while they wait to receive the money from the GRD.

“We have been told we can’t start it until the GRD draw down the money but this delay is threatening the entire project because our contractor is a landscaper who is coming into his busy time.

“It’s also holding up another project – we got funding to build an outdoor mud kitchen for children beside the sensory footpath so we start that until this work is done,” she stated.

“We have sent numerous emails, left many messages, all to no avail. How can community groups – all volunteers – be expected to deal with this farce and how could we have confidence in either department going forward?”

Deputy Canney said he had been working with Independent Councillor Tim Broderick to sort out the issue.

“The funding is safe but I’m annoyed it’s still not sorted. We’ve been trying to get the Department and the GRD to sit down and work it out – it’s not huge money but it will have a huge impact on these communities,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

“I don’t want to see community groups tied up in red tape and having their projects that they work so hard on getting delayed. It’s not affecting all grants in this scheme – just some of the grants allocated to leader companies. If I had my time over again I’d have urged the groups themselves to apply for the funding as they are the ones which will have the liability for the maintenance.”

CEO of the GRD Delia Colohan confirmed that two community groups have had their work held up ‘due to lack of clarification on a number of queries’ to the Department.

“Drawdown of funds will happen when the work is completed – GRD does not hold the funds. The chairperson of GRD has written to the Department seeking an explanation and we are waiting for a response from them.”

Ms Donnelly said the community had successfully executed projects such as a playground and a park before with public funding but they had never experienced such nonsense.

“We have three community employment schemes here who would help to maintain it. We have had the Brothers of Charity out planting, saying they would use it. It’s beside the school, near a nursing home – it would be a well-used facility. If it goes on much longer we’ll lose our contractor.”

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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