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Cruel cuts leave 80 Galway special needs children in limbo

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School leavers with disabilities have been left in limbo due to cuts to health services nationwide.

At least 77 school leavers in Galway are waiting to be accommodated in either in day centres or training courses and the Brothers of Charity are in discussions with 13 families who they cannot accommodate due to lack of funding.

The announcement by the Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities, Kathleen Lynch, last week has shocked families who had no inkling health cuts were going to affect them so drastically.

Hope 4 Disability, the Galway-based disability group, has hit out at what they have called a “cruel and callous” decision.

A 1.2% deduction in the disability budget was negotiated with and approved by the Government on the basis that there would be no overall reduction of disability services but Minister Lynch, in a letter to Galway parents, has admitted that some users will be left without places on any training scheme.

Eamon Walsh, Chairman of Hope 4 Disability said that “such a situation is unthinkable for families”.

“The reality for the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families is shocking. The burden of support will be so great that families and service providers will not be able to cope; to even contemplate the curtailment of the most basic of supports for most families, it is unbelieveable and borders on the immoral and to leave it to almost the middle of August to make this statement is unforgiveable.”

This year, over 80 children with intellectual disabilities will graduate from school services and are then reliant on funding and support from the HSE.

Hope 4 Disability is calling on the Minister and all public representatives to address the situation.

Meanwhile, the Brothers of Charity, who have a deficit of €9 million because of budget cuts over the past five years, are trying to find resources to accommodate 13 school leavers with intellectual disabilities, in further training courses or for the more severly disabled school leavers, in day care.

The Brothers estimate it would need €419,000 to provide this service, which would give the users day care five day a week.

Deputy Colm Keaveney said that unlike bus drivers, these parents cannot go on strike as it was a full-time commitment and should be given every consideration and support by the State.

“The Government is cynically trading on the fact that families cannot leave their disabled children uncared for while they protest in Dublin. As with mental health services, another area of our health services struggling in this crisis, the Government believes that residual stigma surrounding both will lessen the capacity of such groups to resist cuts.

“This Government has continuously failed to appreciate that disability services are not a charity to be cut back when times are tough. They are in fact a human rights issue. A change in mindset in this regard is urgently needed,” he said.

He said it was incumbent on elected representatives to take a stand to secure a life of dignity for their children. He also said the HSE had failed to support these families.

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!

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Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison

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A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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