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Connacht Tribune

Galway West dogfight adds air of uncertainty for last two seats

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Last time out...Hildegarde Naughton and Catherine Connolly make history after they were both elected on the 14th count for Galway West - the first time the constituency returned two females TDs.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Once upon a time, Galway West was one of the most predictable constituencies in the countries, a stronghold for Fianna Fáil. A whole political generation passed with only Padraic MacCormack the lone standard-bearer for Fine Gael.

The arrival of the Progressive Democrats in 1987 changed the complexion of the constituency. Bobby Molloy’s defection from Fianna Fáil essentially cost the party’s its former dominant position. Molloy’s personal vote in the constituency has outlasted the existence of the PDs with Noel Grealish holding on to the seat for 16 years now.

Fine Gael has been the dominant party since 2011. That said, the constituency is reflective of modern Ireland, more fragmented, and therefore less easy to predict.

Fine Gael won two seats out of five in 2016. In the run-up to that election, huge boundary changes saw the constituency lost territory to the east of the city and gain a swathe of south Mayo.

John O’Mahony moved south from Mayo. His presence created internal tension and rivalry within Fine Gael which probably spurred it to retain its two seats.

Unusually, the constituency returned two Independents. There is now a definite left wing seat in the constituency.

Labour’s dismal performance in 2016 helped Catherine Connolly win a seat for the first time. Grealish, who has next to no national profile, illustrated how effective a local constituency operator he is, coming in second.

Eamon Ó Cuív topped the poll and was easily re-elected with an impressive 14 per cent of the vote.

And when you look at the Fianna Fáil figures for 2016, the party achieved 23 per cent of the overall vote, only two per cent behind Fine Gael. But because there was such a gap between Ó Cuív and the other two candidates, there was never a prospect of either of them bridging the gap.

The next election – wherever it is – is going to be complicated, even though there is a strong chance we could be left with an ‘as you were’ situation – two Fine Gael, one Fianna Fáíl, and the two sitting Independents.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara

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Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara

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Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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