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Health chiefs back off cuts over threat to patient safety

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Date Published: {J}

By Darragh McDonagh

Hospitals in Galway received a last-minute reprieve yesterday after HSE West management conceded that cutbacks to eliminate its €65m budget deficit could not be implemented without lives being put at risk.

The regional health executive had been instructed by the central authority to axe €65m from its expenditure by the end of the financial year to achieve breakeven status.

However, a meeting of Oireachtas representatives and members of the Regional Health Forum heard yesterday that it could not implement further cuts without jeopardising patient safety.

The matter is now in the hands of the national HSE, which could choose to punish the regional health authority by deducting the massive overspend from its budget for next year.

The meeting at University Hospital Galway (UHG) was told by Dr David O’Keeffe, clinical director of acute services and continuing care, that existing cuts would be consolidated but there would be no further closures of beds or services this year.

Galway University Hospitals (GUH) is now likely to reach the end of the year with a €19m deficit, while the overspend for the Galway/Roscommon area will have reached €34m. Dr O’Keeffe told the meeting that the local health services had already been stretched to breaking point.

Chairman of the Regional Health Forum Cllr Padraig Conneely welcomed the announcement as a temporary reprieve but said that the fear was now that the central HSE would punish the West for failing to control its finances.

“We have been granted a stay of execution but we must now fight tooth and nail to ensure that the matter is resolved and not merely deferred until next year,” he said.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Horror finish in Thurles will haunt Brigid’s senior hurlers

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Date Published: 10-Apr-2013

 St. Fergal’s (Rathdowney) 2-10

St. Brigid’s  (Loughrea) 0-13

STEPHEN GLENNON AT SEMPLE STADIUM

HOLLYWOOD has produced some horror stories over the decades but at Semple Stadium on Saturday, St. Brigid’s Vocational School, Loughrea became the unwitting authors of their own ‘Nightmare’ in a crazy All-Ireland VS senior hurling final.

One suspects few involved in this All-Ireland decider will have the stomach to read this deliverance in black and white this week and you could not blame them. Ten points to the good after 34 minutes, St. Brigid’s looked to be cruising to the three-in-a-row of titles – and an 11th crown overall at this level.

Consequently, it was unfathomable the Galway outfit should blow a winning hand in the manner they did but credit to St. Fergal’s of Rathdowney for putting their collective shoulder to the wheel and for not viewing the outcome at any stage as a lost cause.

Their reward was a mesmerising ‘Roy of the Rovers’ comeback which was punctuated by captain Aidan Corby’s equalising goal with four minutes left on the clock and culminated in full-forward Daire Quinlan pouncing for the winning goal in the final minute of this absorbing tie.

For the devastated St. Brigid’s players, who looked to be home and hosed earlier, this was the Freddy Krueger of ‘Nightmares’ . . . with ‘Friday The 13th’ and ‘Halloween’ thrown into the mix for good measure.

There were, arguably, mitigating factors. For one, midfielder Darragh Dolan, who was the driving force behind their Connacht final and All-Ireland semi-final victories, had a torrid afternoon with injury – he had to be treated on the sidelines twice – and this had an adverse impact on both him and the team.

In addition, aside from pursuing an All-Ireland colleges’ dream, the majority – if not all – of the St. Brigid’s players have been caught up with club minor or U-21 championship action, if not both, over the past fortnight.

As a matter of fact, a number of players were lining out in their fifth championship game in two weeks and the effects of this became apparent in the closing stages when the Galway students were simply out on their feet and were unable to respond in any fashion.

Still, you can’t help but feel they really should have won this. By half-time, they led 0-10 to 0-2 and they extended this advantage early in the second period when full-forward Brian Molloy and midfielder Eanna Burke clipped over two neat points. It looked as if normal service had resumed and nobody could argue otherwise.

For St. Brigid’s fluency in the opening 34 minutes was a joy to behold. Indeed, after just 24 seconds, Jamie Ryan had split the posts and over the ensuing quarter Daniel Nevin (2), Molloy (play and free), Jarlath Mannion – a serious injury concern in the run-in to this game – and Ryan again all added to their side’s tally to leave them seven points to no score ahead after just 15 minutes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Turning tragedy into positive response over mental health

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Date Published: 12-Apr-2013

 By Julianne Clarke

A retired teacher who lost her daughter in tragic circumstances almost a decade ago has channelled her energies ever since into promoting positive mental health.

Violet Gavin admits there was two ways she could go after losing her daughter, Annemarie, at the age of 29 around Christmas 2004.

“I could either get under the covers and not get up – become a couch potato, watch television all day long – which I would not do; so I decided to do something else,” she says.

That led her to establish the Galway-based Positive Mental Health Charity, because Violet particularly wanted to do something for teenagers in the area of mental health.

The death of her daughter was not the only reason Violet set up the charity; she firmly believes there are a lot of alcohol related problems and a multitude of problems which originate at a young age.

She set up Positive Mental Health with eight others in March 2005, after they held their first meeting in her kitchen – and now over 2000 students from Galway city and county and beyond have benefited from the programme.

The charity is hosting its mental health conference next Wednesday, April 17, in Galway’s Ardilaun Hotel. The themes of the conference include early diagnosis of mental health issues, sport and activity, substance abuse, parenting, cyber-bullying and prevention of teenage problems.

Violet has met with over 500 “wonderful” volunteers since the start of the charity. NUI Galway sends students on work placement to the charity every year.

Positive Mental Health relies on fundraising events organised by volunteers and donations from businesses and friends in Galway. They also get a small amount of funding from the National Lottery and the County Council.

Their mission is “to implement health promotion as early as possible in school through training and education and thus reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.”

The Positive Mental Health Programme, which is delivered by specially trained volunteers, consists of modules on perceptions of mental health; feelings and emotions; friendships and relationships; lifestyle – peer pressure and self-esteem – bullying; grief and loss, and happiness…on demand.

The charity operates in what might be termed organised chaos out of a box room in Violet’s home, armed with just one old computer, a phone and a part-time secretary – the secretary is funded by the charity as Violet herself cannot use a computer.

But there is unanimous acclaim for her drive and determination from all of those who have come to work alongside her.

Ros na Rún star and Galway native Anne Marie Horan – a volunteer with Positive Mental Health – describes Violet as a ‘very energetic, dedicated and tireless worker on behalf of positive mental health issues in this country’.

Another volunteer Dee Baker sums up Violet: “This woman has more energy in her little finger than anyone.”

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

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