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Geoffrey’s mission to ensure fair deal for kids

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Date Published: 02-Jun-2011

As a child, Geoffrey Shannon had a real sense that life was terribly unfair for some children.

Living opposite St Joseph’s Industrial School in Salthill, his mother would bake buns for the boys there. The family of five used to foster some of the kids for a period.

Although he has no recollection of hearing directly about the horrors that went on in the institution, it left an indelible stamp on his consciousness.

“I have a vivid memory of them [the children]. I remember some of the names of the children that stayed with us. I remember thinking how privileged I was to have a family and was aware of some sort of social injustice – that these children can’t enjoy the same by reason of circumstance. Even at that age you reflect on why this happened,” he recalls.

The sense of social injustice and a compulsion to do something about it was to fuel his path in life.

At school in the Jes, he remembers being involved in debates in which he would argue on behalf of the disadvantaged.

At home his father Eddie was a teacher at Moneeageisha community secondary school, his mother Ailish was with the Board of Works (now the OPW) He always wanted to study law. He was known as the one in the family who would always question.

“From the start I wanted to specialise in child law and I did that fairly quickly at UCG. I did a lot of research about foster care for my undergraduate thesis. I trained as a solicitor in Limerick and then did a masters by night, focusing on adoption and child protection,” he explains.

“The whole area was really unknown at the time. I was a couple of years ahead of other people so when these issues hit Ireland I was on top of the research. The stuff I was doing was fairly groundbreaking, the type of issues that emerged in the Murphy and Ryan Reports.

“The type of abusive behaviour that came out in these reports was no great surprise to me – I was surprised that other people were surprised because a lot of people knew the harsh approach taken in these homes.”

Geoffrey’s research led him to work with social workers in Galway in the foster care system. What stood out was that the foster carers and the children they provided a home for had absolutely no rights.

While the theory of the law led him to conclude that the legislation was hugely inadequate for children, it was the experience of it that propelled him down the road of reform.

“I remember a birth mother who had three partners and 18 addresses over the course of two years. I was acting on behalf of the foster carer and the natural mother was attempting to claim the child back.

“You saw immediately the problem from a child’s perspective, how destabilising that situation was for a child, how the child was then placed with the foster parents in a very safe and secure environment. You saw how the law needed to accommodate the child but wasn’t able to – in law the child was invisible.”

As a result of his work in the area of adoption, he was retained by the Department of Health and Children as an independent legal expert to facilitate a wide-ranging consultation process on future developments in adoption legislation.

 

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.

A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.

Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.

Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.

Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action

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Date Published: 12-May-2013

The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.

There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.

Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.

Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.

Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.

The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.

However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.

Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.

 

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