The head of hospitals in the region has assured the public there will be full cover in place over the Christmas festive period despite what one councillor labelled the exodus of senior medics to the Caribbean.
Councillor for Galway City Central Padraig Conneely echoed the calls of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier this month when he called for hospitals, consultants, nurses and other staff to operate at full capacity at Christmas, New Year and in the early weeks of January.
Cllr Conneely was critical of the response received from the HSE about procedures in place to deal with the anticipated surge in patients over the holiday season.
Chief operating officer of the Saolta Hospital Group Ann Cosgrove had stated that detailed planning for the Christmas period was underway following a review of activity levels in previous years and joint planning with services outside the hospitals under the auspices of Community Healthcare West.
“We all know from last year that in the first week of January consultants like to go to Barbados over the New Year period,” exclaimed Cllr Conneely.
“You know Christmas Day is four weeks away from today. Here you’re saying planning is currently underway. Businesses plan six to eight months in advance for the Christmas period.
“If we’re to take previous Christmas periods, a lot of work is cancelled because staff are not there – I think it’s a bit lame.”
He told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that he had been in the hospital himself for a day procedure and all the conversation of staff around him was focused on who was on leave during the festive period.
“It’s kind of disturbing. I didn’t say anything but it was all that was being spoken about.”
Ms Cosgrove retorted that staff worked “five over seven”, did not work seven days and week and were entitled to their days off in a very busy environment.
“All beds are open over the Christmas season. All rosters are filled,” she insisted.
Elective procedures did not take place as patients did not want to be in hospital at that time of the year so certain days were quieter than normal.
The hospital group had applied for extra resources for staff in the areas of diagnostics, frailty teams and the Emergency Department as part of their winter plan three months ago but had not heard back from the national organisation.
Man in his 20s killed in Ballinasloe crash
A man in his 20s was killed in a crash in Ballinasloe this afternoon.
The single vehicle crash occurred on the N63 in Newbridge at around 12.45pm.
A male passenger of the vehicle, who was aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Portiuncula Hospital where a post-mortem will take place.
The driver of the car, a male also aged in his 20s, is receiving medical attention at Portiuncula Hospital.
The road remains closed while investigations continue and local diversions are in place.
Gardaí are appealing to any person who may have witnessed the crash, or who may have dashcam footage from the N63 between 12.20pm and 1pm to contact them.
Údarás defends financial support of companies on east side of Galway City
Údarás na Gaeltachta has defended its financial support of companies based on the east side of Galway City and Claregalway.
It comes after the regional authority responsible for economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht was criticised for supporting companies in predominantly English-speaking areas of Parkmore Business Estate and Claregalway.
Kevin O’Hara, a Sinn Féin representative in Conamara, said the State agency should not support companies in Claregalway or Parkmore on the city’s east side. He suggested Enterprise Ireland or the IDA should support those companies rather than An tÚdarás, even though they were technically situated within the Gaeltacht.
Speaking on Adhmaidin on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltacht, he questioned what benefit the Conamara Gaeltacht reaped by Údarás na Gaeltachta supporting enterprises in Parkmore or Claregalway.
Instead, Mr O’Hara said Údarás should focus on supporting jobs from Knocknacarra westwards, in Gaeltacht Conamara, and in particular in Casla, where it was badly needed.
He said it did not make sense for it to be spending money on client companies in Parkmore or Claregalway, and instead it should be focused on where it would be more valuable to the language and Gaeltacht areas, in South Conamara.
The controversy arose after Údarás announced its end-of-year statement for 2022, which highlighted how its client companies in the Galway Gaeltacht had shed jobs last year.
There were a total of 3,222 jobs in Údarás client companies in Galway at the end of last year.
Some 278 new jobs were created in these companies, but 331 jobs were lost, meaning a net loss of 53 jobs.
Údarás said the previous year, 2021, was “exceptional” for job creation.
In a statement to the Tribune, Údarás said it “does not currently support any companies in the Parkmore Business Estate”.
“We offer qualifying businesses and companies from various sectors a range of incentives and supports to start up, develop, expand or locate throughout the Gaeltacht regions, as defined by statute,” it added.
The fall in Galway Gaeltacht employment, it said, was “associated with the closure of some large companies on the eastern edge of the Gaeltacht” – which is understood to be in Parkmore.
“Most of the new jobs were created in companies operating in the medical devices, science and engineering sectors, including Aran Biomedical and Micron Clean in An Spidéal, and ÉireComposites in Indreabhán.
“In addition, there was an increase in employment in niche manufacturing companies as well as in the community services, education and language sectors,” the review said.
In the coming year, job creation will mainly be in the food and drink, biotechnology, audiovisual, aquaculture and services sectors, it said.
Údarás said 2022 was challenging for its client companies due to rising costs, particularly energy, and an uncertain international trading environment due to geopolitical unrest.
“It is clear that some of these challenges will still be with us in 2023. But Gaeltacht companies have shown stability and resilience, driven by constant innovation,” it added.
Language plans were being implemented in eight of the ten Language Planning Areas identified for the Galway Gaeltacht at the end of 2022, with total funding of €1.3m per year.
Implementation of the language plans will begin in the other two Language Planning Areas, An tEachréidh (Claregalway) and Bearna and Cnoc na Cathrach in early 2023.
‘Gobbledegook’: Galway 2020’s language on €1m legacy funding spend
The Culture Minister has been pressed to provide clarity on what exactly the €1m ‘legacy’ funding for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture (ECOC) will be spent on.
And Galway West TD Catherine Connolly (Ind) accused Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin of using language that was “gobbledegook” to describe the legacy funding.
The money will be channelled through Galway Culture Company, which is the latest iteration of Galway Cultural Development and Activity CLG, commonly referred to as Galway 2020, which was initially established in 2016 to run and operate the European Capital of Culture designation.
Minister Martin told the Dáil that the company will publish details of its “proposed legacy framework” on its website.
In broad terms, however, she said the €1m legacy funding could be broken down into the delivery of three aims.
There was €300,000 to “facilitate EU and international relationships and funding”; a further €500,000 “to develop and support place-based cultural programming”; and €200,000 “to provide supports to the cultural and creative sector”.
“Galway Culture Company is working to develop the legacy framework of Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture and to build on the learnings and outcomes of Galway’s many European and global designations, including European Capital of Culture, UNESCO city of film, European Green Leaf city and European region of gastronomy,” Minister Martin said.
But Deputy Connolly expressed frustration at the use of language that lacked clarity.
Repeating that sentence uttered by the Minister, which was a direct quote from the company’s website, Deputy Connolly said: “I feel like saying ‘mother of Jesus’. What are we talking about here with regard the €1m of a legacy in terms of infrastructure and artists on the ground getting money?”
Minister Martin replied: “It is the strategic objective of Galway Culture Company to bring together key agencies and stakeholders to drive forward a collective creative vision for Galway through meaningful partnership and collaboration, so creativity is at the heart of that.
“It will seek to complement the work of the two local authorities in Galway by working with the cultural units in the city and county councils and will assist in the implementation of both arts plans and the cultural strategy.”
Deputy Connolly said Minister Martin’s heart was in the right place, but twice she labelled her description of Galway Culture Company’s role in delivering a legacy for Galway 2020 as “gobbledegook”.
And the Independent TD urged Minister Martin to take a ‘hands-on approach’.
Minister Martin said that physical infrastructure, and new cultural buildings “is not and never has been part of the direct delivery and legacy of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture”.
The delivery of physical arts and cultural infrastructure was a matter for Everybody Matters, Galway cultural strategy 2016-25 developed by its two local authorities, she said.
The €1m for legacy is included in the Department’s €15m overall support for Galway 2020.
Minister Martin had agreed in April of 2021 that the legacy funding would be paid, and she acknowledged in the Dáil last week that the allocation was finally approved last December.