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Galway families living in fear of cold spells



A white Christmas will not be high on the wish list for hundreds of families across the city, hard pressed to keep their houses warm over the festive season.

This week, the city’s Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), said that as well as basic necessities such as food and clothing, many families were also in serious need of fuel supplies this Christmas.

“Energy and heating is a challenge for many city families and just as much this winter as in the past two years. We do help out where we can with bags of coal – the situation is very pressing again this Christmas,” said local SVP President Michael McCann.

He also advised hard pressed families to get their electricity and gas suppliers to fit the new meters [essentially pay as you go] where a certain percentage of the contribution would go to arrears and the rest on day-to-day usage.

“Most importantly, where families and individuals are falling behind with their energy bills, the really critical thing is for them to make contact with the provider and make them aware of the situation.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is a family having their electricity cut off, especially in wintertime when it can lead to real hardship.

“While we certainly don’t ask families in need, to start reducing heat in their homes, we would advise them to put in place commonsense measures like, for example, maybe cutting off the heat in a room not being used.

“But this is wintertime and people need to heat their dwellinghouses adequately. We will do what we can to help ease the situation for families who are under pressure to keep heat and energy in their homes,” said Mr McCann.

He said that where families were under pressure to provide food and clothing for their children, the money just mightn’t be there to buy the fuel or to pay for their electricity or gas.

“There is just no sign this Christmas of any easing off in demand from needy families around the city and county. The need is every bit as much as it was last year and the year before and we are very dependent on the contributions and donations we receive this time of the year,” said Michael McCann.

In a statement issued by the SVP in Dublin this week, they said that many less well-off families could reduce their energy bills by over €2,500 per year, if their properties had a better energy rating and a greater degree of insulation.

According to John Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy, while energy prices have increased by 25% since 2009, the fuel allowances have decreased by up to €120 per season.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run



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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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda



Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway



Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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