Inside Track with John McIntyre
You couldn’t make it up if you tried. Thousands of supporters attending junior and under-age GAA games up and down the country, but nobody allowed in to see senior club hurling and football matches . . . the high-profile fixtures. It’s a blatant anomaly which defies logic. In a nutshell, the message is: there’s no risk of picking up Covid-19 at a juvenile or junior game, but there’s every danger of falling victim to the pandemic at a senior club championship encounter.
Of course, when NPHET and the government ruled that sporting events must be held behind closed doors, they weren’t anticipating that junior and underage-games would carry on as normal in terms of supporters turning up. The vast majority of these matches are held at open rural venues where the host club has little interest or motivation in turning people away.
The reality is that most of these GAA grounds are easy to access and frustrated fans are turning up in their droves. Contrast that with what’s happening with senior club matches. They are being held at secure inter-county venues which are nearly impossible to gain ‘illegal’ entry to.
You’d imagine that there should be someone sitting around the Cabinet table who can flag this ridiculous inconsistency. And then have the wit to question stopping fans getting into the big games while crowds are flocking to lower-scale matches. How can it be alright to get into one and not the other?
According to the GAA itself there hasn’t been a single recorded outbreak of the coronavirus associated with the staging of any match. The Association has rigorously complied with NPHET’s restrictions and has even taking it on itself to keep dressing-rooms closed. And what thanks do we get? . . . nothing, just the continued and unnecessary shattering of people’s spirits.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry
The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.
The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.
Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.
The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.
Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.
Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.
“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.
Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie
Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated
Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.
City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.
Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.
The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.
An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.
Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.
Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.
He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.
Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.