From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A formal request is to be made to the Comptroller and Auditor General to carry out a full examination of the finances of Galway 2020, the company responsible for organising Galway’s tenure as European Capital of Culture.
The city’s five Fianna Fáil councillors are also calling for the troubled organisation to be wound down, with new, more direct structures being established to ensure that organisations such as the Arts Festival, Macnas or Baboró who have projects outstanding, will be able to bring them to fruition.
This follows Tuesday’s announcement by the Galway 2020 company that it was temporarily laying off most of its staff. It has also terminated its contract with UK based creative company Artichoke and will be “significantly reducing its cultural programme due to the Covid-19 crisis”.
Nineteen of its “30 core staff” are being laid off for three weeks, and the Galway City Tribune understands that most of those are cultural producers and production employees.
Galway 2020, which had already been plagued with financial and organisational difficulties, issued a statement on Tuesday: “We are implementing a three-week temporary layoff programme for all but a skeleton staff, effective from today (Tuesday). We have also made the very difficult decision to bring to an end our contract with Artichoke.”
However, Cllr Crowe says the organisation was already not fit for purpose.
“Covid-19 might be the stated public reason why this is thing is going to finish up, but it isn’t the cause of it being in the trouble it’s in.”
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Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country
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.
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Leisureland sinks with €20,000 per week losses
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The plug is being pulled on Leisureland – leaving hundreds of swimmers, mostly children, and trainee lifeguards, high and dry.
Galway Salthill Fáilte CLG, the company that operates the publicly-owned facility, has confirmed it plans to shut down its swimming pool and gym, leaving members of six aquatic clubs, hundreds of schoolchildren, and the general public, without an amenity for the foreseeable future.
Swimming clubs fear they will lose a whole generation of young swimmers in Galway if the pool closes. And they have warned that it could end up costing €1 million to repair and reopen the pool after a prolonged closure.
Leisureland blamed the impact of coronavirus for its financial woes, with losses running at an average of €20,000 per week.
The company said that by August it had already spent its annual €300,000 subsidy subvention from Galway City Council, and the local authority has indicated it is not in a position to increase the subsidy further in 2020.
The planned closure – which could result in the furloughing of over 20 staff from next month – has shocked the local aquatic community.
A lengthy hiatus with Leisureland closed will mean Galway will lose a ‘whole generation’ of swimmers, according to Eamon Caulfield, President of Galway Swimming Club and member and former chairperson of Corrib Water Polo Club.
“We’re particularly upset and aggrieved that this is going ahead, it’s shocking. They should be looking to reverse this decision,” he said this week.
The majority of the five aquatic clubs that use the facility (Galway SC, Shark SC, Laser SC and Tribes and Corrib water polo clubs) are made up of children aged 10-18, including some international athletes. Hundreds of children from Galway schools also learn to swim there.
A water safety group has been using the pool every Sunday morning since it opened in 1973, he said.
“Historically it is where Galway gets its lifeguards from. How can you not have swim lessons in a public pool? How can you not have water safety taught in a pool in Galway?
“It beggars belief, we’re on the sea. The water safety people, where are they going to go, how are we going to get lifeguards for beaches? How are we going to get teachers for teaching swimming?” asked Mr Caulfield.
The clubs have roughly 150 members each and generate €150,000 revenue annually for Leisureland.
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Galway Gardaí get more than 1,000 house party calls
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway Gardaí have responded to more 1,000 house calls relating to house parties during the pandemic from mid-March to early September – the vast majority of them in the city area, it was revealed this week.
Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Galway City Tribune, that the figures for house party Garda call-outs were ‘startling’ and a source of major concern.
“This is a no-brainer. For anyone thinking of a house party, the simple message is – don’t do it. A serious amount of Garda time is now being spent dealing with house-party related incidents,” he said.
Between March 18 and September 1 this year, the Galway Garda Division responded to 1,034 house-party related calls, most of them in the city area.
“This a real and pressing issue not only for the Gardaí and the health authorities but also for the general public at large.
“Large numbers of people gathering in an enclosed house setting can be potentially disastrous in terms of our efforts to contain the spread of this virus. House parties are out – it’s as simple as that,” said Chief Supt Curley.
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