Homecomings are ‘a tragedy waiting to happen’
Dangerous practices during sports homecoming events were under the microscope at this week’s meeting of the County Joint Policing Committee, with members warning that reckless behaviour was ‘a fatality waiting to happen’.
In particular, the issues of people ‘hanging out car windows’ and sitting on top of moving vehicles were the subject of scrutiny by members of the JPC.
Chairman of the JPC, Cllr Peter Roche (FG), said the issue was first brought to his attention when concerned members of the public contacted him to relay details of three young people sitting on top of a vehicle travelling at 30km per hour, as part of a homecoming celebration.
“I don’t want to be a killjoy but this is on the agenda as a consequence of a phone call I got from people referring to what they witnessed in after-match convoys where cups are being brought home.
“I want people to enjoy themselves and generally, I have no real issue with people hanging body parts out the window,” said Cllr Roche.
“But they were outside the vehicle and the car was travelling at 30km per hour and the person who contacted me was genuinely concerned that if the vehicle had to brake, these people would have been catapulted in front of the car behind them,” he continued.
New member of the JPC, Gerry Larkin, who was Galway GAA County Chairman from 2007 to 2011, said he was ‘delighted’ this issue had been raised.
“This is a fatality waiting to happen. We need to have zero tolerance in relation to young children hanging out of cars – and it is not the child who’s to blame, it’s the parents or the team manager.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a widespread problem, but it does happen and Cumann Luthchleas Gael would completely dicourage this type of action,” said Mr Larkin.
Cllr Frank Kearney (FG) said it happened after more than just GAA matches and said it was incumbent on all organisations to ensure the safety of their members.
“This solely doesn’t apply to GAA teams and I wouldn’t like them to be singled out. There is no question whatsoever that it is highly dangerous,” said Cllr Kearney.
Chief Superintendent of the Galway Garda Division, Tom Curley, said while he too didn’t want to be a “killjoy”, it would only take one accident “for this to come to a head”.
“It will be the driver or the club that will come into the fold,” he said.
“The insurance company won’t stand over it if anything happens. It is escalating and it is dangerous.”
During the discussion, Cllr Kearney raised concerns over the practice of lighting bonfires in dangerous locations as part of the same celebrations.
“Added to that issue is when there is a town and people might light bonfires out on the road in dangerous places.
“There is no need to be outside your own house. If there is space opposite your own house, then I’ve no problem with it being there but it shouldn’t be out on the road. That applies to all sporting organisations,” said Cllr Kearney.
Nurses call in Chief Fire Officer on ED overcrowding
The nurses’ union has formally urged the Chief Fire Officer to investigate 17 alleged breaches of the fire regulations as a result of chronic overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway.
It’s the second time the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has done so since Christmas, fearing the lives of staff and patients are being put in grave danger.
The emergency department was busier than normal last week, with between 222 and 251 patients turning up to be seen per day. On Wednesday of last week there were 53 patients waiting on trolleys, according to figures released by the Saolta Hospital group. That went down to 47 on Thursday and Friday.
This week has seen little let up. On Monday and Tuesday the number of people who could only get a trolley was down to 36 and 38 respectively.
Local area representative of the INMO, Anne Burke, said as a result of very high attendances at the temporary emergency department, management had opened a transit area where between 12 and 14 people could be accommodated in cubicles.
Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Comer has eyes on the prize
If you Google Damien Comer, the first entry the search returns is a dedicated Wikipedia page, which declares: “He’s better than David Clifford”.
And while Wikipedia as a source of fact isn’t necessarily always reliable, who are we to argue with it?
But whatever about comparisons with Kerry greats, the Annaghdown clubman is certainly up there among Galway’s finest ever footballers.
Winning a first All-Star last season, from his third nomination, was proof of that. It was a special personal accolade, but he’d trade it in a shot for a Celtic Cross.
“It was nice to get but if I finish my career not having won an All-Ireland, I’ll be very disappointed,” he declared.
Comer hints that the 2022 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry last July was not one of his better games in maroon, and it’s one he thinks about regularly.
“Yeah, I would yeah, I’d think about it a bit. But I try to forget it as well, because it wasn’t a good day for me, personally, anyway.
“You try to forget about it and yet you have to try to learn from it and improve on the mistakes you made, and stuff you didn’t do that you should’ve done, and different things that you can bring to this season.
“It’s one that’s hard to forget about really because we were there for so long. Sixty minutes in, neck-and-neck, and then they just pulled away, so it was disappointing,” he said.
Damien Comer has teamed up with Specsavers to encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their eye and hearing health. There’s a full interview with him ahead of Sunday’s National Football League Final, is in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Galway publican reflects on traumatic journey that ended with his abuser in jail
Galway businessman Paul Grealish remembers the moment back in 2000 when he was given a sheet of paper and asked to write about his life. He was on weekend-long self-development course that he’d been sent on by his brother John. At the time, John was managing director of their family business for which Paul and their sister, Joan, also worked.
“The course was probably done in an attempt to make it easier to manage me,” says Paul with a laugh, adding that he “was tough to manage” back then.
He was enjoying the course – until he received that blank sheet.
“I got about four or five sentences in, writing about my early life. Until I got to the primary school part . . . I was in tears,” he remembers. “I was so used to compartmentalising things, I didn’t see the danger.”
In the early 1970s, aged nine and ten years, Paul had been beaten and sexually abused by his teacher, Brother Thomas Caulfield, at Tuam CBS primary school.
He had repressed those memories for nearly three decades.
“You bury the memory, and you bury it as deep as you can. There’s an awareness of something terrible there but it’s too frightening for you to actively remember.”
Paul was so terrified of those memories that he’d lost all recollection of his childhood. He couldn’t tell his story.
He was meant to show it to one of the course leaders – a counsellor, he thinks. Instead, Paul put the nearly-blank sheet before the man and explained what had happened.
Realising Paul’s plight, that man gave him a list of phone numbers for counsellors in Galway.
“Every now and again, I’d look at it and think about ringing them but I didn’t,” Paul says.
However, the abuse that had robbed Paul of his childhood and blighted his adulthood with feelings of guilt and self-hatred refused to stay buried. Finally, he knew he had to deal with it. That journey began in the early 2000s and Paul finally got closure earlier this month when Caulfield was sentenced to 27 months in prison – with the final seven suspended – for his crime.
Read Paul’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.