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Connacht Tribune

Former St Brigid’s ‘offers alternative’ for Galway Hospice

Declan Tierney



A renewed campaign has been launched to encourage Galway Hospice to relocate to the old St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe.

A former government minister and leading business campaigner are now asking the HSE to make the closed hospital and 120 acres of ground available for hospice services.

They make the case that it would be geographically well-placed to serve the needs of hospice patients both in Galway, Roscommon and throughout the Midlands.

The old psychiatric hospital in Ballinasloe was closed around five years ago and still remains vacant. It remains in the ownership of the HSE West.

Former Minister and Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten along with the Chairman of Ballinasloe Area Community Development Seamus Duffy are both advocating that the East Galway town is the ideal location for the Hospice.

Galway Hospice did not want to comment on the calls that their service be moved to the HSE-owned building in Ballinasloe.

In the past they have expressed the view that the hospice should be on a direct bus route and this may not be the situation with regard to St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe. Campaigners say otherwise.

Mr Duffy told the Connacht Tribune that the old psychiatric building can be renovated to more than accommodate the needs of Galway Hospice and would be geographically well located.

He said that in view of the fact that planning permission had been overturned by An Bord Pleanala for the Merlin Park site, it was time to look elsewhere.

The old psychiatric hospital and grounds are owned by the HSE who are anxious to dispose of the property but they are being asked to put this decision ‘on the long finger’ for the time being.

Despite being closed for the past five years, Mr Duffy said that the building is still retrievable and could also provide a helicopter landing area – given the space that there is available.

“We have the motorway on our doorstep and a huge bus service to the town so there is no reason why Ballinasloe could not accommodate such an essential service,” he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Denis Naughten said that a bus service could be provided to the front door of St Brigid’s Hospital from any direction and that it was a building that would be ideally suited for the Galway Hospice future plans.

“The traffic situation in Galway City is a nightmare and if Galway Hospice cannot be accommodated on a site in Merlin Park, then they have to look further afield.

“With regard to St Brigid’s, traffic congestion is not a factor and it would have the potential to serve a much broader base. The whole Midlands area iscrying out for a service that is similar to that which is provided by Galway Hospice,” Deputy Naughten added.

The former Minister said that he would be making contact with HSE West to make St Brigid’s available for Galway Hospice’s future plans. He believes that it deserves consideration.

Connacht Tribune

Limited go-ahead for marts

Francis Farragher



Marts: Individual sales to be allowed.

MART managers and staff across the county are busy this week preparing operating protocols for approval by the Dept. of Agriculture that will allow for the limited sale of livestock during the current COVID-19 emergency.

On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed that they would be allowing marts to handle livestock sales in a limited way – marts will liaise with buyers and sellers; arrange for the weighing of the animals; and process payments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the Dept. had issued guidance to marts for ‘a very limited range of essential services’ that would not require people to assemble: the transactions would include calf sales, the weighing of livestock, and an online or brokerage service.

Ray Doyle of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) this week thanked the Government for their announcement, adding that ‘it was reasonable’ for a form of trading to continue to alleviate the current economic burden on farmers.

He pointed out that only mart staff would handle the animals; the buyer and seller would not have contact with each other; each could observe the weighing data; the buyer could view the animals from a distance; the sale would be completed electronically; no visitors or members of the public would be admitted; full sanitisation protocols would be observed; with the sale to be completed electronically.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Self-isolation success staves off Covid-19 surge – for now

Dara Bradley



Anaesthetic Registrar Dr Robbie Sparks with Clinical Facilitator Claire Lavelle simulating an intubation of a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at UHG. (Photo supplied by UHG because of visitor restrictions)

The predicted surge in Covid19-related admissions to Galway’s hospitals has been delayed – for now – giving much-needed breathing space to ramp-up preparations and increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and beds for when it does hit.

But hospital management remains concerned in particular with the ‘significant’ number of staff in the West who have been taken off the frontline because they are ill from coronavirus, or self-isolating as a precaution after coming in close contact with an infected person.

And as the latest figures show 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Galway – seven times the figure from a fortnight ago – the HSE has conceded that local testing for the virus was suspended Sunday due to a shortage of testing kits. Limited testing resumed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, although hospital chiefs in the West insist they have sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), nursing homes across Galway are facing a shortage of basic equipment such as masks, and many have appealed to the public for donations.

Chief Clinical Director Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist, Dr Pat Nash, said UHG, the main Covid-19 hospital in the West, has experienced increased activity but ‘not a huge surge in admissions’.

“The hospital still has significant capacity available both on wards and ICU,” he said.

But Dr Nash stressed there was no room for complacency and the public needed to continue to observe social distancing, stay at home and practice hand hygiene.


See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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Connacht Tribune

Loan sharks prey on families hit by pandemic

Denise McNamara



Moneylenders have been targeting working class areas in Galway where hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the lockdown, encouraging them to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

Deputy for Galway East Sean Canny said he had received several reports of estates in the city where leaflets had been distributed recently by legitimate loan sharks.

“These people are licensed so they are not doing anything illegal but I do think it’s immoral in these times and my advice is to ignore money lenders,” he stressed.

“We have credit unions where people can go to for advice and for loans and we have MABS [Money Advice and Budgeting Service] which can provide advice that maybe they don’t need more money but may need to manage their budget better.

“People don’t make the best decisions when they’re stressed but I would really urge them not to go down this road because they can charge interest rates of 187% which is really fleecing people.”

Paul Bailey, Head of Communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions, said they have also been getting reports of leaflets being dropped by moneylenders in working class areas.


See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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