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Connacht Tribune

Conflicting messages help steer Covid-19 confusion to new levels

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly...at the centre of the storm.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Politics can throw up unusual weeks, unreal weeks, bizarre weeks, comedic weeks, tragic weeks – even tragicomic weeks. This week – and it’s not over yet – had the lot. The Government’s new Covid-19 plan was always going to be problematic. It was too long being baked and just when it was ready to come out, somebody slammed the door of the oven.

And the door slam was Dublin.

The Covid-19 alert plan might have worked if conditions all over the country were roughly similar – but in the past few weeks, there has been a marked increase in cases in Dublin that has caused serious concern.

And so in the week leading up to the publication of the plan on Tuesday, the trajectory was looking bad. The new cases were running into the hundreds and well over half were in Dublin.

On Monday there were some 200 cases, with more than 100 in Dublin. Of the 357 cases announced on Tuesday, almost 220 were from the capital.

The pattern here could be ominous. The rate per 100,000 people over a fortnight has risen to a 100. That’s five times more than many western counties – including Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.

The difficulty was that in the new five-level alert plan there is a big jump between Level 2 and Level 3 (but not such a big one between Level 1 and 2).

You can’t attend matches at Level 3. You have to work from home. You can’t visit other people’s homes. You are not allowed to travel around your own county.

As Micheál Martin and Stephen Donnelly argued it would have been a serious decision to move to Level 3 – and they were right.

But the difficulty was that we have known for much of September that Dublin was in a different place from the rest of the country.

When the Cabinet sub-committee, chaired by Martin, met on Monday, it was made aware of the potential gravity of the situation in Dublin. The infection had increased ten-fold in the county in the space of a few weeks and there was no sign of the numbers abating.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Real Estate have attractive site for sale on the Aran Islands

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Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Galway Real Estate have an attractive site/property for sale at Oghill, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

The site is approximately c.150 square metres. (c.1600 sq. ft.) on c.1 acre with planning permission to convert to a dwelling house and fit a new waste water treatment system. Planning Ref: 17/1284. There are two years  left on planning. The planning is for a proposed 4 bedrooms, kitchen, dining/room, laundry/room, bathroom. This is a wonderful opportunity to get a property ready to go. Offers in excess of €125,000 considered.

Full details from Paddy Flynn 0872557618 or Galway Real Estate on 091565488 or email: info@galwayrealestate.ie

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Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry

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Saoirse na Farraige

The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.

The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.

Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.

The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.

Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.

Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.

“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.

Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated

Denise McNamara

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The current ED at UHG.

Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.

City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.

Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.

The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.

An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.

Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.

Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.

He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.

Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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