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Irish Water denies shower infection claims

Dara Bradley



Irish Water denies that the contaminated public water supply in Connemara is responsible for causing a near-fatal infection in one of its customers, a dialysis patient.

The public utility, which reaffirmed that it does not comment on individual cases, last week issued a statement suggesting Joe Wall from Carraroe was infected by something other than the public water supply connected to his shower.

Mr Wall, who featured in last week’s Connacht Tribune, however, has been told by health professionals that the most likely cause of him contracting peritonitis is the quality of water in An Cheathrú Rua, where a boil water notice is in place due to cryptosporidium.

Mr Wall, a 58-year-old peritoneal dialysis patient who receives treatment through his stomach by a Tenckhoff catheter, was admitted to hospital last Tuesday after complications from an E. Coli infection.

Mr Wall, as well as the consultants and nurses treating him, linked his infection to the contaminated water in An Cheathrú Rua’s public supply.

Similar problems were experienced by dialysis patients when the city’s water was contaminated with cryptosporidium some years ago, Mr Wall was told by hospital staff.

Speaking from his hospital bed on Tuesday, a week later, he said he had to have surgery to remove the tube from his abdomen, as it too may have been infected.

“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The complications with dialysis mean that they kept me in (hospital) for the past week,” he said.

Mr Wall had hoped he could continue to get dialysis treatment at his home in Bothar Buí but this has been ruled out. “The nurse told me ‘not while the water situation in Carraroe is the way it is with cryptosporidium’. It means I’ll have to go to Galway for the haemodialysis,” said Mr Wall.

Mr Wall went public on his ordeal to warn other vulnerable people in areas of Galway where boil water notices are in place. Some 4,700 people in Carraroe are impacted by the boil water notice issued last month. Boil water notices remain in place in Williamstown, Leitir Mór and Loughrea.

Ervia, the parent company of Irish Water, in statement said: “While Irish Water cannot comment on specific cases we can confirm that in line with our commitments to our customers all vulnerable water users in the area were notified within an hour of Irish Water being notified that a boil water notice was being issued in South Connemara.”

Ervia added: “More importantly, we would also like to point out that there was never an issue with E. Coli in drinking water supplied in this area. All water supplied to customers in South Connemara has been chlorinated for the last 30 years – that is, zero E. Coli at our supply point.

“In addition, we have not turned the UV off at the water treatment plant which means that we are providing a dual barrier for E. Coli. If the E. Coli which caused the infection came from the water in this customer’s shower it did not originate in the public supply. Potential sources of this kind of contamination are re-contamination of the water supply within the owner’s property or other hygiene risks within the home.”

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh that it has issued a summons to Irish Water alleging Irish Water has failed to implement an action programme agreed by the EPA last September, to improve the quality of water at An Cheathrú Rua.

The court case is listed for hearing in Dublin on May 23.

“As you will appreciate the EPA can make no further comment on this matter until such time as the court case has concluded,” the EPA told Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

Elsewhere, the boil water notice imposed on Ahascragh public water supply on April 1, 2016 has been lifted. Customers affected can now resume normal use of the water supply, it said.

Some 853 people were impacted by the notice which included group schemes in Lowville No.2, Castlegar West, Castlegar Lissyegan, Cornamucklagh, and Ballyglass. The precaution was lifted after advice from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Irish Water and Galway County Council in a statement issued by Ervia, said they “acknowledge the patience, cooperation and assistance of the general public during the period of the boil water notice and greatly regrets any inconvenience caused to householders, the farming and the business community.”


Salthill’s ‘Heart of Hope’ a beacon of light for frontline workers

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A giant illuminated heart has been erected on the Big Wheel at Curry’s Funpark in Leisureland as a poignant symbol of hope and expression of gratitude for the country’s healthcare workers.

Last month, preparations got underway to set up the fun fair, but it became yet another casualty of Covid-19. Owner Owen Curry got to work on constructing a blue ‘Heart of Hope, An Croí Gorm’ with LED lights to attach to the 120-foot wheel overlooking the Prom.

Together with his crew, and respecting the rules of social distancing, he had the heart in place on the axle of the Big Wheel within a day.

“I wanted to do something, to say to the doctors, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and everybody working in the health service how grateful we are for their incredible dedication and courage in the current crisis.

“When the other lights on the Big Wheel are switched off, the heart emits a glow and appears to float in mid air over the Prom,” he said.

Without advertising revenue and people buying the paper, this website would not be here. To buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95, click HERE. Thanks for your support.

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ICU consultant reveals intensive planning ahead of peak Covid demand

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A consultant in critical care at Galway’s biggest hospital has assured the public that there is still significant capacity for very ill patients fighting Covid-19.

But to help University Hospital Galway best cope with the expected surge in numbers within the next two weeks, Consultant Intensivist John Bates has pleaded with the public to follow the strict public health guidelines about staying at home.

“There’s been a lot going on – a lot of retraining, a lot of redeployment, a lot of up-equipping. We normally have twelve ventilator beds and we’re up to 24 at this stage and have significant capacity. We’re working to get beyond that but we certainly have capacity at the moment,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Asked if the hospital would be able to cope with the peak of the pandemic – tipped to hit in the next fortnight – he said there were no guarantees.

“It depends on the size of the surge. We can’t say for sure how big the surge will be. It’s a new disease and models of how it will go are different – in some we will be okay and others we will struggle,” Dr Bates said.

“The curve appears to be flattening. Dublin is starting to come under pressure accessing critical care beds. It’s likely we will at some stage here too. But we have good capacity at this stage.”

The number of healthcare workers who will likely be affected by the pandemic has been factored into the hospital’s readiness plans. In China, ten per cent of critical care staff were out of action while in Italy it has reached 20 per cent.

Despite the high risks facing hospital staff, Dr Bates believes morale at UHG is good.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thanks for your support!

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Galway CIty Council takes ‘wait and see’ approach to emergency cuts

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A revised, emergency budget with swingeing cuts to non-essential services may have to be introduced by Galway City Council if the Covid-19 crisis is prolonged and income from commercial rates, parking and rents from social housing dries up.

However, the local authority for now is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, and has no immediate plans to introduce a ‘slash and burn’ budget.

Some 38% of the Council’s income of €100 million comes from commercial rates paid by businesses, which in 2020 equates to €38 million.

About 60% of all the rates collected – roughly €22.5 million – comes from the hospitality and general retail sector, which has been most badly hit by mandatory and voluntary closures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Government has confirmed that businesses have a three-month ‘holiday’ on paying commercial rates, although pressure is mounting from business groups for rates bills relating to the period of Covid-19 closures to be written off.

Regardless of the outcome of that lobbying, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council concedes that some city businesses simply will not survive this turbulent time – and that will have a knock-on effect on the local authority’s income.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Remember, without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thank you for your support. 

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