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Good news for 8,500 customers as boil water notice lifted at last

Denise McNamara

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Eight months after it was declared unsafe, the public water supply in Loughrea has been given the all-clear.

While the 8,500 customers in Loughrea and hinterland will be breathing a sigh of relief, there is no good news for the residents of Carraroe and Kilconnell which still remain on a boil water notice.

Irish Water said it had invested over €300,000 at the two treatment plants in Loughrea to ensure a safe and reliable supply of drinking water in the town and hinterland.

The boil water notice was issued on February 2 after the potentially dangerous bug cryptosporidium was discovered in tests. The estimated period of time to solve the problem was initially put at two months. Irish Water executive Ger Greally said the Loughrea water treatment plants now provide a robust barrier to microbiological and other contaminants.

“Irish Water is delighted that this boil water notice has been lifted within a relatively short timeframe considering the scope of works involved,” he stated.

“Both Loughrea water treatment plants will now provide year-round protection against the range of contaminants found in the raw water. New UV systems were installed at the two plants along with significant filter optimisation works, extensive flushing of the mains and cleaning of all four reservoirs associated with this scheme.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said its auditors were satisfied with the upgrade works carried out to improve the safety and security of Loughrea public water scheme.

The agency stated that filter management at both Loughrea plants had been significantly improved and added that the new UV disinfection systems meet the criterial for UV disinfection under the EPA Drinking Water Advice.

“Secondary disinfection by chlorination provides residual disinfection in the distribution network. All reservoirs have been cleaned and intensive network flushing has been carried out,” the report stated.

A boil notice was put in place in Kilconnell in November 2015 and in Carraroe last March.

“Irish Water is investigating a number of options to find a short term solution for the Kilconnell water supply. Once a resolution is agreed Irish Water will issue a detailed update,” according to a spokesperson.

“In relation to Carraroe, the works at the treatment plant are complete and a period of process proving is underway. We expect to issue an update in the next couple of weeks.” That work has cost in the region of €1m.

At its height in the last year there were 11,213 Galway residents on full or partial boil water notices or experiencing a water restriction due to contamination in the public water supply – it hit Ballinasloe in December 2015, Loughrea and Lettermore were both announced the following February, while Carraroe’s supply was declared off limits in March and Ahascragh was next to make the list in April.

Williamstown had a boil water notice in place since October 2014 which was only lifted last May. Irish Water is currently putting in place a long term solution to the issues in Williamstown consisting of an extension of the Lough Mask pipe line from Ballyhaunis. This is programmed for completion at the end of 2017.

A boil water notice imposed on the Leenane Public Water Supply in July 2015 was lifted last month after an investment of almost €1 million at the local treatment plant which supplies over 200 customers.

Customers on the Loughrea Regional Water Supply – including the Craughwell area and the following group water schemes – Earlspark, Masonbrook, Newtowndaly, Loughrea Rural, Killeenadeema, Carrowmore/Clostoken & Caherlaven, Caherdine, Carrigean – can now resume the normal use of tap water for drinking, food preparation, making ice and brushing teeth.

Connacht Tribune

Man on assault charges after allegedly coughing at Tesco workers

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A 33-year-old man appeared in custody before Galway District Court this morning on assault charges after allegedly coughing in the direction of two Tesco workers yesterday.

Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides with his sister at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested by Garda David Sheffield at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at Tesco in Ballinasloe, and brought to the local Garda Station where he was later charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.

Garda Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.

Garda Sheffield objected to a possible bail application under the “O’Callaghan rules”, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.

“He showed no remorse and thought the offences funny and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco,” Garda Sheffield told Judge Marie Keane.

Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, who was appointed to represent Prokopczyk under the free legal aid scheme, applied for bail.

She said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.

Ms Moran said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job.

Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, again objected to bail, saying: “He didn’t seem to be respectful to the Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and showed no respect for the employees.

“The allegations are he coughed in the direction of both employees and showed no remorse afterwards.  There is a fear this type of behaviour might happen again,” she said.

Ms Moran said her client was very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and was notified of the consequences.

Judge Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant Prokopczyk bail.

“It’s utterly despicable,” she added before remanding the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.

Bail was granted on condition he continue to reside at his address, observe a nightly curfew between 8pm and 8am, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, provide a mobile phone number to Gardai to be answered at all times, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Multi-agency Covid-19 response forum launched in Galway

Enda Cunningham

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A new Covid-19 response forum has been formed in Galway City – with more than a dozen agencies including the City Council, the HSE, Gardaí and COPE Galway.

A dedicated community support helpline will be launched on Monday to assist at-risk members of the public.

Galway City Council is the lead agency in the new ‘Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum’.

According to a statement from the Council, the purpose of the forum is to “lead the co-ordination of Covid-19 community supports and resilience and to ensure that there is a co-ordinated community response, enabling all the voluntary and statutory agencies to collaborate in support of our communities and particularly our most vulnerable members”.

The new helpline will assist at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the current public health emergency.

“The helpline is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels,” the statement reads.

Included in the Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum are: Galway City Council; Health Service Executive; An Garda Síochána; Community Welfare Service; Galway City Partnership; Galway City Community Network; Galway Volunteer Centre; COPE Galway and other community, voluntary and sports representatives

“Its core aim is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. Galway City Council, through this group, will ensure that the wide variety of groups working across the city to assist those in need, will do so in an organised, collaborative and targeted way.

“The Community Response Forum is there to ensure the very best use of the many resources assisting vulnerable persons with their daily needs at this unprecedented time, whether that is collecting medication, food shopping, social support and contact,” the statement reads.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said: “There are a number of agencies currently doing excellent work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities. These groups are currently operating independently of each other and Galway City Council’s role is to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of these much needed services to our more vulnerable citizens across the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Galway City Council is ideally placed both statutorily and regionally to channel this great work and provide the governance structure in partnership with all stakeholders.  This public health crisis has changed life for so many, and we are there to help with that change.

“Our own staff whose day-jobs have changed due to this crisis, will be a key resource in the management and operation of this community support programme along with our partner agencies/groups,” said Mr McGrath.

Set to come into effect from Monday, March 30, a dedicated Freephone number will be available in the coming days but in the meantime members of the public can access this new resource by calling Galway City Council on 091 536 400 or by emailing covidsupport@galwaycity.ie

An information leaflet including the new freephone number and other information will be distributed around the city over the coming days.

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Connacht Tribune

Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.

The following is the guidance issued:

 

What employers should do

  • refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
  • if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
  • if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times

What employees should do

  • if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
  • when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
  • If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.

If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.

Business Continuity and Resilience

All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.

Non Essential Services

If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.

There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.

In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.

Review

This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.

Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:

Agriculture & Fishing

  • farmers
  • farm labourers
  • farm relief service workers,
  • others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing

Manufacturing

  • the manufacture of food and beverage products
  • the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
  • the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
  • the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
  • the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
  • the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
  • the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
  • the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
  • the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.

Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment

  • the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services

Electricity, Gas & Water

  • electric power generation, transmission and distribution
  • extraction and distribution of gas;
  • water collection, treatment and supply
  • sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities

Construction

  • essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
  • repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
  • delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

  • retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
  • wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services

Transport Storage and Communication

  • land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
  • road, rail, sea and air freight
  • sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
  • warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions

Accommodation and Food Services

  • hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
  • food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service

Information and Communications

  • the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.

Financial and legal activities

  • banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
  • accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people

Professional, Scientific and Technical activities

  • engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
  • scientific research and development activities
  • regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services

Rental and Leasing Activities

  • rental and lease of cars
  • light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.

Administrative and Support Services

Where necessary to support other essential services:

  • employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
  • security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
  • cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.

Public Administration and Defence

Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);

  • An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
  • public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
  • the Defence Forces;
  • emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
  • Prison services and Child Detention services
  • cyber-security
  • regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
  • operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
  • funeral services
  • religious personnel
  • office-holders and public representatives

Human health and social work activities

  • hospital services
  • paramedical and essential therapy activities
  • public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
  • laboratory services
  • drug treatment and addiction services
  • hospice services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
  • emergency dental practice activities
  • blood donation service
  • residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
  • homecare home help and other community services
  • social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
  • ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
  • minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities

Community/Voluntary Services

  • community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
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