A senior HSE official is understood to be investigating a claim that a psychiatric patient exhibiting ‘challenging behaviour’ at University Hospital Galway was restrained with handcuffs and forced to sleep on the floor.
Staff in the psychiatric unit are “very, very unhappy” with the way in which a male patient was restrained “like a dog on the floor” and had to sleep on the floor of the unit one night last week after being brought to the unit in handcuffs.
The HSE has insisted that no such form of restraint has ever been used inside the unit.
Galway TD Colm Keaveney – Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Mental Health – said frontline staff at UHG have made him aware of instances where patients have been restrained and sedated when overcrowding occurs in the 45-bed unit.
When pressed, he said he believed the form of restraint used was cable ties or handcuffs when patients display ‘challenging behaviour’.
The HSE responded: “We refute Deputy Keaveney’s claims that staff of the psychiatric unit restrain patients using handcuffs, shackles and cable ties. A robust, evidence-based policy is in place for the safe and dignified treatment of service users who present challenging behaviour.”
It’s understood that Jim Ryan, Head of Operations at the HSE’s Mental Health Division, was in the unit yesterday (Thursday) and last Friday.
A source at the hospital said they believe Mr Ryan is at the unit because the HSE is “greatly disturbed” by the claims about patient restraint.
For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.