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Families take to streets in protest over respite cuts

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Date Published: 01-Jul-2010

By Denise McNamara

The disabled and their families are to take to the streets next week in a desperate appeal to stop further cuts to already struggling services and row back on the moratorium on front-line staff which could see respite support slashed by nearly half.

The national protest on Wednesday next was sparked by the €2.5m cut to the budget that the Brothers of Charity gets to manage 130 centres in Galway for this year, on top of the €1.8 million reduction last year.

The situation has been compounded by the staff moratorium, which has resulted in 20 posts being lost last year and a further 26 this year, according to Eamon Walsh, chairman of the parents group Hope 4 Disability.

If the HSE implements an additional 1.5% cut in the budget as touted for next year it will result in respite services for the city and county being reduced by 45%, the closure of two community homes in Galway, three multidisciplinary posts cut, and day services charged for and reduced for some individuals. That will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of society and their stressed out carers.

“That will really close respite services and that’s frightening, very frightening. There are around 100 families dependent on the respite services and dozens on the waiting list, some of them in urgent need. One lady has had two ribs broken by her 16-year-old and cannot cope. It’s shocking,” Mr Walsh stated.

There are currently 1,100 children and adults with intellectual disabilities who are clients of the Brothers of Charity in one of its 130 centres around Galway. The charity’s board has fallen back on reserves to try and keep key services such as respite care in place this year despite the cutbacks.

However, at its AGM in May, acting chief executive Anne Geraghty said there was no guarantee they could provide respite from next year.

Mr Walsh said for families with disabled children, the respite care they received was the only break they got. His son Peter, 12, has cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy, and requires round-the-clock care. He stays in a respite centre for one night a week.

“It’s essential. It’s not a lot of help but the thought of that being reduced or taken away from us is unbelievable. That is the only time we can spend time alone with our daughter Kelly, go for a meal or a walk in comfort and not have to worry about Peter all the time.”

“These really are very, very vulnerable people. They can’t speak for themselves. They have no right to these services, they exist on a wing and a prayer at the whim of the HSE,” he reiterated.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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