Debt collectors hired on behalf of NUI Galway to recover unpaid fees should be sensitive when dealing with people who are financially under pressure, student leaders have warned.
It was confirmed this week that NUIG is continuing its policy of outsourcing debt collection to a private company, South Western, which is based in Cork.
Students Union Welfare Officer, Declan Higgins commended the university for embracing ‘payment plans’, which allow students to pay fees on a weekly or monthly basis, to spread the load, rather than in one lump sum. However, he said a “sensitive” approach must be taken by debt collectors who are pursuing hard-up students.
“There is a humanity in most cases here in NUIG and in most cases students are treated sensitively. In fairness to the university, they are very good in terms of setting up payment plans for students, which eases financial pressure. A lot of students are struggling with debt and their families are finding it hard so the payment plans are a good solution. It is better that the university gets some money, spread out over the year rather than losing the student and the fees. It makes economic sense and it is a sensitive and sensible approach,” said Mr Higgins.
In relation to reports the university is continuing to outsource its debt collection, he said he has had no reports of students being badgered by private debt companies.
In some instances, it is understood students do receive phone calls reminding them of their outstanding fees, however.
“We don’t have a policy as such towards debt collection but what we would say is that each case must be dealt with in a very, very sensitive way. We would ask that the university ensures that the debt collection agency deals with cases sensitively and in fairness, in relation to payment plans, that certainly is the case most of the time.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team
Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.
The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.
Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.
Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.
“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.
It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.
“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”
She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.
“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.
There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.
Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968
As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.
From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.
When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.
Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.
A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.
Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later
Gardaí appeal for help to locate missing man
Gardaí are seeking help from the public in locating a 66-year-old man who has been missing from Clonbur since Thursday.
Michael Harte is described as being 5’ 9” in height, of slim build with short grey hair. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans, a blue jumper, a tan / khaki padded jacket and tan boots.
He is understood to have access to a black Renault Megane with a 02 C registration.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Clifden Garda Station on 095 2250, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or any Garda station.