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CITY TRIBUNE

Coronavirus poses major threat to homeless

Francis Farragher

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The former Corrib Haven B&B in Newcastle will be available to the homeless for self-isolation.

THE Covid-19 crisis poses very serious challenges for people who are either homeless or living in homeless accommodation, according to the Galway Simon Community.

The charity has set up a Response Team – advised by top medical experts – to deal with the challenges being presented by the virus for both clients and staff.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said that enhanced hygiene and infection control measures had been introduced with clients being supported ‘around good hygiene practices’ in an effort to stop the transmission of the virus.

“Rooms have been identified within Galway Simon’s Services that can be used by people supported by the organisation, should they need to self-isolate.

“Galway Simon Community is wholly focused on the health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers and in ensuring that we can continue to run services for those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness in Galway,” she said.

Homelessness Prevention Services will continue operating. However, support will be provided over the phone and by email/internet rather than in meetings and there may be delays, given protocols in place to protect clients, staff and the general public around transmission of Coronavirus.

“We have an extraordinary team of committed staff and volunteers, who are pulling out all the stops to ensure that we do everything possible to keep people within our community safe at this very difficult time,” she said.

Sharon Fitzpatrick, Head of Development at the Galway COPE charity that provides support services for homeless and older people as well as those who suffer domestic abuse, described the current situation as ‘changing and dynamic’.

“COPE Galway are acutely conscious that those who are homeless are a vulnerable group for whom we have concerns and we are working in partnership with HSE Public Health and Galway City Council in relation to this guidance.

“For anyone concerned about homelessness please make contact with Galway City Council on 091 536400 for assessment and COPE Galway at 1800 788887,” she said.

The HSE have issued detailed guidelines about preventing the spread of Covid-19 in settings for vulnerable groups such as the homeless, travellers, refugees/asylum seekers and others.

“Current information suggests that Covid-19 can spread easily between people and could be spread by an infected person even before they develop any symptoms.

“For these reasons, we suggest greater attention to cleaning and general hygiene, social distancing measures such as visitor restrictions, limited social mixing generally and especially indoors in communal areas (at least less than 50 persons), as well as greater support to those with chronic illness/disability,” the HSE advise.

CITY TRIBUNE

Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra

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An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.

Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.

The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.

It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Larkin and McDonnell out as Frankeen ‘Pacts’ punch!

Dara Bradley

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Cllr Noel Larkin

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The first City Council meeting since the summer recess took place last Monday in Leisureland. There were few raised voices or rows; a sedate affair, it was more straightforward than usual for the start of a new term.

It was as if city councillors were keeping their powder dry. Now we know why.

An hour after the Council meeting ended, the ruling pact’s mayoral agreement disintegrated in a blazing row. And a new pact has now been formed, but not with the combination of councillors that everyone expected.

It’s complicated. But the shenanigans that led to the creation of a new rainbow coalition, with a distinctly Blue(shirt)-hue, gives an insight into the cut-throat nature of local politics, and the rat-like cunning that’s needed to negotiate a path to power.

The collapse of the existing pact [Noel Larkin, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab), Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy (Green)] has its roots in a dispute about Travellers.

After that house near Carnmore, bought by the City Council and earmarked for Travellers, was razed by fire, Larkin gave an interview on local radio, which irked Niall Murphy, a newbie to politics.

Murphy contacted all pact members, denouncing Larkin’s GBFM performance in a cutting email that sailed close to the wind. Larkin was livid. And attempts by pact members to placate him didn’t work.

So, twelve days after pressing ‘send’ on the explosive email, Murphy met Larkin face-to-face at the pact meeting on Monday evening in the Galway Bay Hotel. Fireworks ensued. The exact details of the barbed exchanges are sketchy but what is clear is that when McDonnell and Larkin left, the five who remained in the room, (two pact members were absent) knew the pact was finished.

Larkin and McDonnell had indicated they would negotiate with Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare) and Fianna Fáil (Mike Crowe, Imelda Byrne, Peter Keane, John Connolly, Alan Cheevers).

Those tripartite talks proceeded, and by late Monday, the rainbow pact members had conceded that power had slipped from their grasp.

They hadn’t signed on it, but the prevailing wisdom – among all sides – was that a new FF/FG/Larkin/McDonnell pact would emerge on Tuesday.

Not so fast, said Frankeen Fahy. Unhappy that FG was getting just one mayor in that scenario, he contacted the crestfallen rainbow pact members with an offer – they could keep their Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and deputy mayoral positions already agreed under the previous pact, but give FG two mayors.

The kingmaker was Donal Lyons. The ‘King of Knocknacarra’ forfeited being mayor in return for remaining on as chair of an SPC, and becoming deputy mayor instead.

One last attempt was made by FG to coalesce with FF, but the Soldiers of Destiny refused to budge on a second mayor, and insisted on one each for FF/FF/Ind. Meanwhile, overtures were made between FF and the Greens, but Larkin was a stumbling block to an alternative pact.

The upshot of the wheeling and dealing is a new pact (O’Flaherty, Lyons, Cubbard, Connolly, McNelis, O’Connor, Murphy, Hoare, Fahy, and Higgins). Fine Gael are the big winners at the expense of Larkin, McDonnell, and Fianna Fáil, who once again in City Council pact negotiations grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Larkin)

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.

The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.

The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.

According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.

The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.

“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.

According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.

Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.

This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.

When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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