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Connacht Tribune

Dark shadow of coronavirus hung over 2020

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Anne Mitchell, Galway IFA Chairperson

For farming families, like everyone else, 2020 was an ‘Annus horribilis’ [horrible year]. Galway farmers through battled through it – here Galway IFA Chairperson ANNE MITCHELL tells FRANCIS FARRAGHER about the ups and downs of a 12 months in our lives that most of us want to forget.

DESPITE all the problems caused by the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Ireland, one consolation for farmers was that prices in almost all of the main production sectors held up reasonably well.
Anne Mitchell said that through the course of the year, the trade for cattle was positive although she stressed that without the various schemes being in operation, the margins in such enterprises would be small to negligible.
“We just cannot underestimate the importance of the various schemes for cattle and sheep that underpin the economic viability of those vital farming enterprises to the West of Ireland,” she said.
According to Anne Mitchell, one of the consolations too from the year was the versatility shown by the marts in being able to generally stay open with the help of online sales.
“Of course, it is far better to have buyers and sellers around the ring but at least the marts for most of the time managed to stay going and provided a vital sales outlet for farmers,” said Anne Mitchell.
As regards dairying, she said that there was stability in milk prices from 2019 through 2020 and this was a ‘major positive’ for the sector.
She said that according to the Teagasc figures for 2020, the average milk price stood at 34.4c/l inclusive of Vat while by the middle of the year, dairy cow numbers in Ireland had risen to 1.57 million.
Anne Mitchell said that the gross margin earned in the sheep sector for 2020 [sheep/finished lambs] increased by 43% – this included the Sheep Welfare Scheme contribution.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run

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A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Simon reflects on impact of ‘a year like no other’

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Despite concerns that homeless people would die in the pandemic as had happened in other urban centres, Galway Simon managed to ensure there was no outbreak among clients and staff last year – even with an 85 per cent decrease in volunteers.

A year like no other was how CEO Karen Golden summed up 2020 at the launch of their annual report this week.

“How can you follow public health advice to stay at home, when you have no home?” she asked those who logged on for the virtual launch.

The charity helped 646 households in the first year of the lockdown, made up of 192 families with 464 children across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – similar to numbers in 2019.

Within days of the lockdown, the organisation had appointed a rapid emergency response team to work out how best to protect clients, staff and volunteers. They created spaces for clients who had to cocoon and self-isolate and for all to socially distance, something that was very hard to manage in communal emergency accommodation.

They used baby monitors to oversee some clients so that staff wouldn’t have to put themselves at risk by entering enclosed spaces.

“We found that, with the pressures of the pandemic, some people’s support needs became more complex. But the response across our entire community was extraordinary, as our staff and volunteers worked extremely hard to protect both the physical and mental wellbeing of our clients,” she told the Connacht Tribune.

“We worked very closely with our colleagues in other agencies, including the HSE and Galway City Council, to ensure a comprehensive response to the pandemic for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the west.

“While some major cities across the world saw significant outbreaks of Covid among their homeless populations, thanks to the enormous team effort across our community we had no outbreak within Galway Simon services.”

One client contracted Covid, and one staff member tested positive but there was no cross-transmission within the services.

“Our frontline staff continued to support our clients every single day throughout the pandemic.  For some of our clients, the only person they saw during the lockdowns was their Galway Simon keyworker.”

Staff undertook food shopping and dropped off hampers for those experiencing food poverty and brought people to medical appointments. They helped some with addiction issues to attend AA meetings to continue with sobriety.

With their two charity shops shut, fundraising had to be reimagined in 56 virtual events, raising €1.17 million, down €100,000 on the year before. That year the Galway Simon Community benefited from the work of 450 volunteers – their number dropped to 66 people due to the restrictions and concerns about safety.

Offers from members of the public to volunteer had to be turned down.

This second year of Covid-19 restrictions has already seen a significant rise in demand for services. From January to August, Galway Simon have supported 669 households, a 28% increase compared to the same period last year. The biggest increase has been across their Homelessness Prevention Services which has had a 32% increase.

“We are very concerned about the winter months ahead. With the lifting of the moratorium on evictions and other supports, and the homelessness crisis and Covid very much still with us, we anticipate that the numbers coming to us for help will continue to increase.”

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Connacht Tribune

Supply chain challenges in retail

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SPONSORED CONTENT  – EZ LIVING FURNITURE

There has been a huge demand for consumer products in 2020 and 2021. Covid-19 has resulted in people spending more time at home than ever before. Lockdown especially saw all non-essential workers previously confined to their homes. Investing in goods such as clothing, electronics and furniture was one of the few ways that people could spend their discretionary income from the comfort of their own homes. However, this major spike in consumer purchasing is only one of many challenges that the retail industry is currently facing.

Every retailer and consumer across the globe is being affected by rising costs and frustrating delivery delays and this, unfortunately, includes  EZ Living Furniture. As Ireland’s most loved and well-known furniture retailer, we wanted to help our customers understand the issues the entire retail industry is currently facing and will continue to face for some time by outlining the order fulfilment process to you.

Supply Chain explained

March 2020:

Many suppliers (including EZ Living Furniture) source their products from overseas. When Covid-19 first struck in the Far East in March 2020, illness and a lessened workforce lead to a dramatic decrease in production. When those countries entered lockdown, supply stopped coming from the Far East entirely.

April 2020:

When these countries began to recover and started to exit lockdown, Europe, unfortunately, went into lockdown. Because we were unable to sell stock to the same capacity, we stopped ordering from these countries.

June 2020:

Customers began ordering products again, but only online as all of the physical stores in Europe were closed. It took us, and many other European businesses a number of weeks to come to terms with the new working from home arrangements and the redirection of resources towards the increase in online sales that occurred subsequently.

November 2020:

Product manufacturers and raw material manufacturers in Europe were still closed due to the pandemic. This meant materials and products were not being produced in Europe at all.

This caused major issues with supply and production. For instance, foam is one of many materials used to make mattresses, dining chairs, and sofas. When this is in short supply, so too is the furniture that uses foam.

Hospitals around the globe began ordering thousands of containers of PPE. With no warehouses to store these essential healthcare items, they remained in the containers at ports. This lead to congestions at ports and a shortage of shipping containers worldwide.

Shipping ports closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in ports.

March 2021:

The Suez Canal was blocked by a container vessel for six days. This put further strain on supply chains that were already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

October 2021:

We are still continuing to suffer from the lack of containers. This is causing a rise in transportation and raw material costs. Deliveries to customers are also now taking longer than usual.

What are we doing to resolve this?

Stores like us are working even harder to ensure that customers receive the same products in the same time frame and at the same price-point that was in place before the pandemic. Any solution to this supply chain problem is not perfect. Prioritising faster delivery will inevitably lead to higher costs while focusing on lowering product prices will inevitably delay delivery times.

Alternatives and long-term solutions are being explored such as supply chains in eastern Europe. However, this is a time-consuming process primarily due to quality control and logistics.

What you need to know

Already this year, we have had to increase our stock levels to try to compensate for any future delivery delays. Until now, we have been absorbing the increases in transportation costs and raw materials in order to continue to offer our customers such a wide range of furnishings.

Unfortunately, due to the prolonged nature of the pandemic, stock is going to be limited, especially during certain holiday periods. Prices may also have to be increased again in the future with smaller companies likely to be affected to an even greater degree. We want to be completely transparent with our customers and make you all aware that our promotions listed below may be the last chance for you all to purchase EZ Living Furniture items at such low prices.

So, don’t wait to buy that EZ Living Furniture Item you have been eyeing and prioritise our in-stock items. The products available in all retail stores now could sell out and take a long time to return to stock. Shipping delay issues could also mean you are waiting months to receive your items.

Although we are uncertain as to how long these global supply-chain issues will last, we aim to keep you updated at all times. We appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times.

For any queries regarding your order, please contact our Customer Service team by phone, email or live chat:

Monday – Friday 9:30am – 5:00pm

Phone: 0818 222 272

Customer Service Email: customerservice@ezliving.ie

Website Enquiries Email: websales@ezlivingfurniture.ie

SPONSORED CONTENT  – EZ LIVING FURNITURE

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