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Good Samaritan to the rescue after defibrillator theft



Heartless thieves have stolen a defibrillator which a GAA club had spent months fundraising for to ensure their players would have the best chance of survival in the event of a cardiac incident.

Castlegar GAA Club had raised €1,500 just a year ago to buy the machine which was stored in a locked cupboard of the referee’s changing rooms in their club complex in Roscam.

They do not know when exactly it was taken, but they discovered it was missing two months ago, said club chairman Damien Tummon.

“Sometimes the gates are left open to facilitate the refs so it must have happened on one of those occasions. We thought maybe somebody had borrowed it for some reason and forgot to return it so put up a notice on Facebook but it seems it was definitely stolen.

“We did check CCTV but could not find anything unusual,” explained Mr Tummon.

The defibrillator was taken out once for use since its purchase to help somebody in trouble at the railway track. By the time a club official brought it to the incident site an ambulance had already arrived.

Luckily enough it has not been needed since it was swiped. However the death of a 15-year-old ‘Bish’ student at the Doughiska pitches last month during a soccer match has spurred the club on to replace the lifesaving equipment.

Hassan Taiwo collapsed during a game between his team, Merlin Woods FC, and Salthill Devon and was later declared dead at University Hospital Galway.

“That death really hit us. We were thinking if that was to happen in our pitches we’d be really kicking ourselves we didn’t have the defibrillator. So we put the word out there we would have to get another one.”

A good Samaritan answered in the form of Tom Meehan, owner of the Spar Shop in Roscam, who has agreed to purchase the equipment for use by the GAA Club.

Officials in the club have decided it would make more sense from a security point of view to store the defibrillator in the shop, which is just across the road from the pitches.

“It’s awful that we can’t store something as vital as a defibrillator where we would like but having it in the Spar also means the community will have easier access to it in the event of an emergency,” Mr Tummon explained.

Castlegar GAA Club is one of the city’s biggest sports, with 80 adults and up to 400 youths regularly using its facilities

“We’re grateful to Tom Meehan that we don’t have to go out again and fundraise. But really it’s very sickening that somebody would feel the need to go and steal this.”

News of the Castlegar device follows confirmation a fortnight ago that three life buoys are being stolen or thrown into the city’s waterways every week by vandals.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm. If needed, it can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. Defibrillators are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, where the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating and can cause death if it’s not treated within minutes. Some 6,000 of the 10,000 who die from cardiovascular disease die from sudden cardiac arrest and 70 per cent of these occur outside of hospital.

“There is significant evidence to suggest that early defibrillation can have a major impact on survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest,” according the GAA’s guidelines on the use of defibrillators.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months



The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged



Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies



Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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