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CITY TRIBUNE

Insecurity of emergency accommodation ‘grinding children down’

Stephen Corrigan

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School principal Michael Gallagher: "Children in Direct Provision want to do well and their parents want them to do well."

Living in emergency accommodation or Direct Provision – or even being forced to move frequently due to a volatile rental market – has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of children in primary school, according to a local school principal.

Principal of Claddagh National School Michael Gallagher said while children were resilient and adapt as best they can to tough situations, they did at times fall victim to feelings of anxiety due to the insecurity of their home situation.

According to Mr Gallagher, while a number of families with children in the school were living in emergency accommodation, teachers would have significantly greater experience with children staying at the Eglinton Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Salthill.

“We have a lot of children from Direct Provision and while it wasn’t scientific, we did have a situation where a number of the teachers took notes of the behaviour and attitudes of the children and what we found was they generally get on well in school – they want to do well and their parents want them to do well.

“If they are in Direct Provision long-term, it really affects the mood of the children. There’s no scientific or empirical evidence, but our experience is that it wears them down in a sense – they become resigned to their fate,” said Mr Gallagher.

In situations where families are in emergency accommodation, the school had less experience – Mr Gallagher estimated three families out of 270 that he was aware of in the past couple of years.

“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more in emergency accommodation – in some cases, families don’t necessarily tell the school,” he adds.

“We would also have had a number of families who get a letter from the landlord to leave their home, or that the rent is going up and they can’t afford it, and so they have to move.

“It has an impact – the uncertainty has a massive impact. The insecurity of not having a family home is huge, something so many of us take for granted,” continued Mr Gallagher.

While children adapt and can be resilient, not having a place to call home or being in Direct Provision meant students could find it difficult to do their homework and in some cases, coloured the way they responded to situations.

Teachers were very cognisant of students’ individual circumstances and made every effort to take into account the challenges they might be facing, continued Mr Gallagher.

“Getting homework done or getting reading done could be the least of their worries – if they have to move from where they are staying in the afternoon, it could simply be the case that they just don’t have time.

“Other problems arise like getting the right books organised, or having stuff to bring in for a project,” he outlined.

“You have children with anxiety issues caused by having worries that other children might not have; these are all generalisations, but they might act out a bit in class, or get a bit excited over something that might be perceived as a trivial issue.”

Claddagh NS also had experience of families being forced to leave Galway for more rural areas because of rising rents in the city.

“We have had a couple of families living in Galway and the Rent Allowance won’t cover the rent – say for example, a three-bed in Knocknacarra. Or they got a letter saying the landlord is selling up and they had to move out.

“A lot of families have moved to Tuam, Athenry and Loughrea where the rent is somewhat more affordable,” he said.

For those families who leave Direct Provision, additional supports were needed because, even with all its imperfections, the system did offer some support structure, said Mr Gallagher.

“When they move out, they can’t afford any rental property in Galway. And even if they do, they find themselves in a two-bedroom apartment and they can’t afford babysitting – that’s very difficult for maybe a single mother who has to work,” he said.

Mr Gallagher said ultimately, all children deserved the best start in life and it was at primary school that they were most open to diversity.

“Kids are kids – no matter what their social status, children behave like children. We have 39 different nationalities and kids don’t see religion or race. It doesn’t bother them; all they’re worried about is who is going to pass them the ball.

“We celebrate diversity and at primary school, there are very few incidences of bullying based on that,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Inspectors from HIQA praise management of maternity unit at University Hospital

Denise McNamara

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The gynaecology theatre at UHG.

The maternity unit at University Hospital Galway has been given a clean bill of health by inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The only ‘bone of contention’ concerned the lack of specialists ringfenced for the labour ward, where infrastructure was also found to be lacking.

The maternity unit was fully compliant with seven national standards and substantially compliant with a further three, with inspectors praising the department for having “a clearly defined and effective leadership, governance and management structure”.

“There was good oversight of the quality and safety of services by senior managers at the hospital who used multiple sources of information to identify opportunities for improvement.

“The hospital’s senior management team monitored performance data including patient outcomes, service user feedback and patient safety incidents and benchmarked its performance against other similar sized hospitals,” the report found.

Inspectors did find a limited number of areas that needed to be improved. They found there were an insufficient number of consultant anaesthesiologists at the hospital to provide a dedicated obstetric anaesthetic service, which needed to sufficiently resourced in line with national standards.

The anaesthetic service in the maternity unit was led by a consultant anaesthesiologist with specialist training in obstetric anaesthesia.

“However, the hospital did not have a designated obstetric anaesthetic service in line with national standards. The anaesthetic service was largely staffed by anaesthesiologists from the general anaesthesiology rota at the hospital.”

While an audit had found that times for an anaesthesiologist to attend the Maternity Unit were “timely”, inspectors had been informed that the anaesthetic team was not always informed about the level of urgency when contacted to attend for an emergency caesarean section.

“This information is required by the anaesthetic team so that they can prioritise their workload. The absence of this is of concern and should be addressed by the hospital,” the report states.

Hospital management has submitted business plans to recruit additional consultant anaesthesiologists so that a 24-hour dedicated obstetric anaesthesiology service could be provided. This had yet to be progressed. They had recently applied to the HSE for funding for two additional consultant anaesthesiologists.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Nuns seek inspiration on proposal for new convent

Enda Cunningham

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The existing Presentation Convent, which was built in the mid-18th century and operated as a military barracks and fever hospital.

The Presentation Sisters have been told that the site for their proposed new city centre convent is not big enough, as there are already plans for the new Our Lady’s College building there.

Earlier this year, the Sisters decided that upgrade works to the existing building would be “very invasive”.

The Sisters subsequently sought permission to construct a two-storey building with 14 bedrooms, an oratory, reception, living and dining areas, utility rooms and administrator’s apartment on the site at Presentation Road.

The plans also involve moving the existing vehicular entrance and the demolition of the extension and outbuildings at the disused national school building, which is a protected structure, and to convert the building into two residential units.

“This application is primarily for a new convent building for the Sisters within the boundaries of the current premises. It will facilitate a residency to current standards with a building suitable to meet their needs in a manner that is compliant with current building regulations.

“This arose as an alternative following an examination and feasibility of interventions and upgrades to the old convent building. Such works would be very invasive to the old building. As such, this proposal does not involve any intensification of use or occupancy of the site.

“The siting of the building is selected to minimise impacts on the gardens. The application also includes for the renovation and alterations to the derelict national school, to bring it into residential use. This will be ancillary to the use of the convent and not other residential use,” the application reads.

According to an architectural heritage assessment report, the Presentation Sisters have occupied the existing convent building since 1819. It was built in the mid-18th century and had previously operated as a charter school, military barracks and fever hospital.

“The overall works will bring it back into a sustainable use which prevents dereliction and will aid its longevity into the future,” the application reads.

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

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pub and GAA club visits on the agenda for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Stephen Corrigan

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Two senior members of the British Royal Family are to visit Galway next month – with preparations already underway to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the city in March.

Gardaí issued notice yesterday (Thursday) morning that a number of streets in the city are to be closed on March 5. Coinciding with the already announced visit of ‘Kate and Wills’ to Ireland, this caused widespread speculation that the royal pair would cross the Shannon as part of their visit.

While Gardaí and Galway City Council refused to confirm or deny the speculation yesterday, the Galway City Tribune understands that Kate and William will spend the day in Galway, and will visit Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard Street – as well as calling in on Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA club.

The Garda notice issued yesterday alerts locals that Williamsgate Street, William Street, Shop Street, High Street, Mainguard Street and possibly Abbeygate Street will all be closed between 6am and 2pm on March 5 – making way for the large security operation required for a royal visit.

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

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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