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Coroner questions quality of psychiatric care




Coroner for Galway West Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin: sympathised with family over tragedy.

A young man who died by suicide when he set alight a car in which he was the sole occupant could have suffered as a result of “revolving door” mental health services, an inquest into his death was told.

The 31-year-old man died when his car was engulfed by flames at Corrib Park on New Year’s Eve, 2017.

In his deposition to the inquiry, the man’s father told Coroner, Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin, that both he and his wife believed their son had left to go to his girlfriend’s house.

Sub-station officer at Galway Fire and Rescue, Ciarán Oliver, told the inquiry that fire services had been called to the scene at 11.27pm on the night in question and while it was not immediately apparent, they soon became aware that there was somebody in the vehicle.

“It was apparent from the nature of the fire that there was no sign of life in the person in the car,” he stated.

Dr Dennis Higgins confirmed the death at 9.40am on the morning of January 1, 2018. The deceased had to be identified using dental records.

Consultant Psychiatrist at UHG, Dr Brian Hallahan, told the inquest that the deceased had first been referred to the hospital’s Mental Health Services in 2008 but despite numerous appointments and several re-referrals, his engagement with the service had been minimal.

Dr Hallahan said it was “per usual practice” that if appointments were missed and a patient disengaged with the services, they would be discharged from the service, adding that they could always be re-referred by their GP.

“[The deceased’s] last engagement with Galway Mental Health Services was in 2014,” said Dr Hallahan.

The Coroner, Dr MacLoughlin, expressed alarm that this would be considered “usual practice”.

“It would appear to me that the deceased was unwell for a long time and part of his unwellness was his inability to continue contact with the services.

“It’s just letter after letter after letter. It’s a revolving door with no humane result,” said Dr MacLoughlin.

“To end his life in such a violent manner is distressing to everyone,” the Coroner said.

Dr MacLoughlin pointed out that an effective psychiatric community nursing system could combat this, given that some psychiatric patients are not unwilling, but rather unable to make contact with the services.

“A lot of psychiatric patients are not in a position to make a decision in their own best interests and the ramifications of that decision may not hit them.

“Why don’t you have a community psychiatric nurse to let them know that there is a caring, responsible and informative service there,” said Dr MacLoughlin.

Dr Hallahan said there was a mechanism in place for home visits and that many patients were in touch with an occupational therapist.

He disputed that the service was not caring, responsible and informative.

Dr MacLoughlin said that the inquest was unfortunately the only opportunity for the effectiveness of these mechanisms to be publicly examined.

“The only opportunity any public inquiry can look at these services is when someone dies.

“Had [the deceased] been attended to, or maybe seen by a community psychiatric nurse, he may still have refused to go, but we don’t know,” he said.

Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan, carried out a post mortem examination on the deceased on January 2.

“There was extensive fire damage over the majority of the body. Histology confirmed the presence of soot in the airways,” said Dr Mulligan.

Dr Mulligan said there was no indication from the post mortem of the involvement of another party.

Dr MacLoughlin extended his sincere sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased.

“The cause of death was the inhalation of toxic gasses as a result of a fire,” said Dr MacLoughlin in passing verdict.


Outdoor dining plans unveiled for Galway City

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A new plan to temporarily pedestrianise city streets to create more space for outdoor dining this summer was published this week.

Galway City Council has said it is planning to close six streets for four months to boost the hospitality sector and attract more custom ‘back the West’ and to Woodquay.

It has also signalled smaller changes for Salthill and around Eyre Square.

“We’re looking to support businesses and people getting back to work. This is an opportunity for us to explore outdoor dining and we’re looking to trial these public realm initiatives,” Ruairí Lehmann, the City Council’s Tourism Officer told the Galway City Tribune.

“There is an appetite for this; the indications we have from Government is it is going to be an outdoor summer and these proposals will support that,” he added.

Chairperson of Galway Branch of VFI, Johnny Duggan of Taylor’s Bar on Dominick Street, said the changes would be very positive and boost hospitality businesses in all areas.

Already, he said as many as 30 businesses have applied for licences to trade outside in the area known as the Westend.

The local authority wants to close to traffic The Small Crane and Raven Terrace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from June 7 until September 30. Car parking spaces will be removed from Small Crane and one lane of traffic would be kept open, one-way. A decision on which side is still under review.

The Council intends to make Dominick Street Lower (Galway Arms to Monroe’s) a single-lane one-way traffic street to facilitate additional on-street dining. It’s understood this has hasn’t yet got the backing of taxi drivers who have concerns about access to and from the Bridge Street rank but alternative taxi space may be offered at another location in the Westend to assuage those fears.

The Council has signalled its intention to close Dominick Street Upper and William Street West from Small Crane to Munster Avenue, at night only, between 6pm and 11pm, from Monday June 7 until Thursday September 30.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and for full details of the proposals for the city centre and Salthill, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council chief backs Salthill tidal pools proposal

Stephen Corrigan



Image Courtesy of Superfly Ireland

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Council is to consider including a specific objective to restore the tidal pools in Salthill in the new City Development Plan – with around one-fifth of the submissions made in a public consultation backing this ‘no-brainer’ proposal.

In a report to councillors on submissions received, Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said consideration of the proposal would be based on technical feasibility, funding, staff resources, climate change considerations and environmental factors.

“A large number of submissions were received requesting the restoration of the tidal pools in Salthill as a year-round public amenity and recreation facility accessible to all. The restoration of this facility would be a huge asset to the city and complement the existing facilities that are available at Salthill,” Mr McGrath states in the document seen by the Galway City Tribune.

Support for the reviving of the Ladies’ Beach facility grew legs after an online petition attracted over 4,500 signatures.

Up to 100 of the 518 submissions made to the Council’s pre-draft consultation supported reopening the pools that have been out of action since the late 1970s.

(Photo: How the pools might look. Image Courtesy of Superfly Ireland)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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GMIT in €9m bid for Galwegians’ Glenina grounds

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – GMIT has put in an offer – rumoured to be in the region of €9million – for the purchase of Galwegians RFC’s grounds at Glenina, the Galway City Tribune understands.

The offer will be presented for a vote at a Special General Meeting of club members set to take place on May 27.

The land at Crowley Park, located just two minutes’ walk from GMIT, had been earmarked for housing by property developer Neil Armstrong, and is zoned residential. However, this deal fell through.

A GMIT spokesperson told the Galway City Tribune they were “not yet in a position to comment”, while a spokesperson for Galwegians declined to comment.

It is understood that staff at GMIT were informed by the institution’s Vice President of Finance at a meeting this week that the ‘deal was done’ and that they awaited the rugby club’s signing off at its members’ meeting later in the month.

The sale would clear the way for the club to proceed with plans to develop a 22-acre site at Boleynasruhaun, Oranswell, where it is expected to make a second planning application after the County Council raised concerns over the scale of the development proposed initially.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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