GALWAY golf courses are closed again after a Covid disrupted 2020, leaving many under financial pressure with members seeking a reduction in subscriptions due to reduced playing times. The Connacht Tribune puts the spotlight on a sport bunkered for the third time in months.
THE game of golf took yet another hammering in County Galway in late December with the decision to close down clubs which has impacted on an estimated 10,000 members.
There are 16 golf clubs in the county and the vast majority have been struggling from a financial perspective for the past 10 months with a combination of closures and restricted activities within clubhouses.
Even though the weather conditions have not been conducive to golf over the past couple of weeks, the courses and clubhouses are again left deserted and, largely, through no fault of their own.
Golf club members across Galway, some who pay in excess of €1,000 for their annual subscriptions, believe that they are now being victimised by a situation that they are not responsible for.
And they are even more infuriated by the fact that so called ‘elite sports’ such as rugby and soccer can continue when golfers, who invariably are so far distanced from each other on the course that there is even less risk of spreading of the virus.
Golfers, who haven’t got much value for the annual sub during the course of 2020, are also annoyed that their governing body, Golf Ireland, have not put up a significant case to keep courses open.
Courses were forced to erect the ‘course closed’ on their gates on two occasions during the 2020 lockdowns and now there are vacant fairways since the latest restrictions have come into place with no knowledge of when they will be allowed reopen.
The Connacht Tribune have been told by several golf clubs across the county that they are looking at their membership being decimated even when they do eventually reopen.
They say that members feel frustrated that they haven’t got value for their membership during the various closures and may not renew their subscriptions unless there are significant discounts in place to entice them to return.
Members are also frustrated given that social distancing automatically happens whenever they are playing golf – unlike the scenes in the aftermath of PRO14 rugby clashes or even the recent GAA football and hurling series.
The Taoiseach announced that elite sport was being given the green light to continue as the country returned to Level 5, but there was no such latitude granted to golf clubs or tennis clubs whose members invariably participate in an event while keeping a substantial distance apart.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Two arrested following taxi hijacking in Galway
Gardaí have arrested two men following the hijacking of a taxi in Co Galway last night.
Shortly before midnight, Gardaí received a report that two men who were passengers in a taxi had attacked the driver and stole his vehicle.
The driver was ejected from the car on the M18 motorway.
Gardaí were alerted and observed the car in Claregalway.
A managed containment operation to ‘block in’ the taxi was put in place with assistance from the armed Regional Support Unit.
The car was brought to a stop on Bothar na dTreabh and two men fled on foot. The two men, one in his mid-20s and the other in his early-30s, were subsequently arrested.
They are currently detained at Garda HQ in Renmore under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
Man arrested after €90,000 drug seizure
Gardai have arrested a man after €90,000 worth of drugs were discovered in a bog near Ballinasloe.
As part of an ongoing surveillance operation, Gardai conducted a search in Poolboy Bog late yesterday afternoon.
They discovered €70,000 worth of cocaine, and a further €20,000 worth of cannabis along with other drug equipment.
A man in his 20s was arrested at the scene and taken to Ballinasloe Garda Station.
He’s since been charged and will appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday.
Waiting lists surge since pandemic
Waiting lists at Galway hospitals have rocketed since the onset of Covid-19, with fears that the situation will only worsen as doubts have been cast over the long-awaited new elective hospital at Merlin Park.
Figures released from the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which covers the cost of outsourcing public patients to private hospitals, show that since 2020, waiting lists locally have surged by almost 25%.
Galway City Councillor Níall McNelis said statistics obtained by the Labour Party showed the numbers waiting for inpatient and outpatient treatment were ever increasing, and little was being done to address the problem.
“Waiting lists have skyrocketed since the beginning of 2020 and have increased from 52,935 in January to 65,548 in March 2021, an increase of a whopping 23.8% in a little over a year.
“In every specialism, the numbers waiting at Galway University Hospitals are growing and growing month after month, with the number of people waiting for general surgery growing from 3,468 to 4,990 – a 43.9% increase; [the list for] cardiology treatment has grown from 2,406 to 3,231, a 34.3% increase in little over 14 months,” said the Labour Party councillor.
This sharp increase in waiting times came as Moycullen-based Senator Seán Kyne (FG) cast doubt over the mooted 200 in-patient beds and new elective hospital at Merlin Park – something that has long been presented as the solution to Galway’s health woes.
See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie