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Lack of marina leaves Galway missing out on millions of euro

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One of the directors of the Irish Sailing Association and driving force behind Galway Bay Sailing Club, Pierce Purcell, believes the city and county are losing out on millions of euro every year because marina facilities are inadequate to cater for sailing boats, yachts and cruisers.

In the wake of Annalise Murphy’s superb silver medal win in the Olympics, it is hoped that further medals can be secured in the sport of sailing in the years to come. However, Mr. Purcell believes there needs to be a great degree of investment into marina facilities in Galway if it is to come up to standard.

“It is not all about high performance necessarily,” he says. “Galway has been very far behind the rest of the country in terms of facilities and access. Access and participation is my area on the board and we have been working very hard this year to try and get people onto the water. And we have to work a bit harder at the access.

“The facilities in Galway are very poor. We badly need a marina in Galway. We could do with a marina out here (in Oranmore). At the moment, the marina in Rossaveal is being expanded, which is good. It is a start. They started out with 30 berths and it should be 120 berths next year. So, that is something.”

Mr Purcell highlights that, last year, West of Ireland Off-Shore Racing Association (WIORA) ran its showpiece event out of the docks in the city and, supported by the Harbour Company, was hugely successful. In other words, when facilities are put in place, the region benefits.

“Next year, for the first time on the West Coast, the West of Ireland Off-shore Racing Association is going to be held in the Aran Islands under the auspices of a new club there. It is a very small club; it is just starting up. All the clubs in the West coast though are encouraging to have the event there. So, we will badly need facilities to be put in place.

“The Government has spent €40 something million on facilities out there. There was a wonderful opportunity to provide a few marina pontoons for all kinds of boat users as well but, sadly, this didn’t happen. So, it is going to take a huge effort to provide facilities for all those boats which are going to turn up next year, in July, in Kilronan.”

For Galway Bay Sailing Club’s part, they boast of 400 members between the various classes, dinghies to cruisers; juniors to adults to seniors; from leisure sailing to competitive racing. In all, 300 people alone around the bay have cruiser boats registered while approximately 14 of those affiliated to Galway Bay also cater for wheelchair users or accessible sailors.

“Our Commodore, Gary Allen, is an accessible sailor and, overall, we have a very enthusiastic group who turn up and go out on a regular basis. It is not uncommon to see a line of wheelchairs at the top of a slip on a Thursday evening. Mark Kelly, Henry Lupton, Marina Lupton and Lorraine Scully are great supporters of it.”

However, Mr. Purcell, who owns Purcell Marine in Clarinbridge, stresses it is not just for local users that he would like to see facilities developed. “The club would be very supportive of Galway Harbour development because this would bring in a huge number of events.

“We are constantly meeting people around the country who say Galway is a long way up and that we need better facilities if we are to attract people. Look what the Volvo Ocean Race did for Galway! It was fantastic. It was absolutely brilliant. If the facilities are there people will come. The modern sailor is expecting these kind of facilities nowadays.”

Consequently, he feels Galway is losing out economically due to the lack of adequate facilities in hotspots around Galway’s coastline. “I think a lot can be done with the facilities around, not only in terms of marinas,” continues Mr. Purcell.

“I am always watching out for camper vans these days and I can never understand why we don’t have better facilities for them because they will come and spend money in our towns and villages. We have wonderful natural amenities here, but we have been very slow to develop them. It is the same with our marinas,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Dozens left without water at height of searing heat

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Dozens of homes and farmers outside between Athenry and Turloughmore were left without running water in the searing heat this week as Irish Water was accused of “ignoring the problem” for the past six months.

And with temperatures in the mid-twenties for the past week, farmers were struggling to feed livestock while families were scrambling to deal with the taps running dry.

Local councillor, David Collins, said this was an “emergency situation” and he had been repeatedly raising issues about water supply in the Carnaun area since last November, to no avail.

He had been bringing water pressure issues on the public water supply to Uisce Éireann (formerly Irish Water) and had been given several different reasons for the problem, but no solution.

“It’s about 20 houses and a number of farms. I started contacting Irish Water about this in November, informing them the water supply was very low. Initially they said it was because of problems with the Carnmore Reservoir but every couple of weeks, I’ve been contacting them and they have been giving different reasons why the pressure is low,” said Cllr Collins.

“It’s a rural area with a lot of farms. I spoke to one farmer this week who said even before the water cut, it was taking him up to three minutes to fill a bucket of water.”

Householders in the area have been left unable to take a shower, wash clothes or turn on dishwashers, he said, and some had even had their appliances destroyed because the water cut while they were on.

“I’ve never got any response from them. The Director of Services [for Infrastructure and Operations] in the Council, Derek Pender, set up a meeting two weeks ago with Irish Water and I joined to raise it. They said they’d go away and come back to me and I haven’t heard anything.

“I got a call from the people living up there last Thursday to say the water was down to a trickle and on Tuesday, it was gone,” said Cllr Collins.

The Fine Gael councillor said it was hugely frustrating as a local representative to be unable to get a straight answer from Uisce Éireann, or any indication of what they planned to do to address the problem.

“It’s frustrating for us, but not half as frustrating for the people out there who have no water. Nobody is taking responsibility,” he said.

Cllr Collins raised the matter at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District on Tuesday where he called on the County Council to apply pressure on Uisce Éireann.

“It’s like being on a merry-go-round,” he said, adding that efforts to get a reply from Uisce Éireann were eliciting the same “generic responses”.

“Everything seems to be going into the abyss. This is a First-World country and we have people with no water,” he said.

Director of Services Alan Farrell said he would raise the matter with the relevant department in County Hall.

In response to a query from the Connacht Tribune, Uisce Éireann put the issues down to the recent warm weather and said they had deployed a crew to the Carnaun area.

“Uisce Éireann understands the inconvenience such outages can cause and apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said a spokesperson, adding that it could take hours for supply to return to “customers on higher ground or at the end of the network”.

A review of service interruptions in the Carnaun area was being undertook, they said, and Uisce Éireann would continue to work with Galway County Council to ensure supply.

“Once this review is complete, an assessment will be completed to determine next steps.”

Ironically this comes as Uisce Éireann and Galway County Council announced what they called ‘essential overnight water restrictions’ across a large swathe of the county from last night to help manage supply.

The restrictions from 11pm to 7am will affect Tully, Letterfrack, Carna Cill Chiaráin, Carraroe, Inis Oirr and Ros Muc in Connamara, as well as Ballinasloe and parts of what it defined as Mid-Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Rising costs push nursing homes closer to the brink

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Higher operating costs, staffing shortages, and increasingly more complex care needs of residents was among the threats facing Galway’s nursing homes, a new report has found.

Analysis of the sector by consultancy PwC, on behalf of Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), highlighted 31 nursing homes across Ireland and 915 beds have closed in the last three years.

According to NHI, included in that figure are four nursing homes in County Galway that have closed since January 2021.

A spokesperson said they include Corrandulla Nursing Home, Castleturvin Nursing Home in Athenry, Oughterard Manor and Kiltormer Nursing Home (pictured). They closed between 2021 and 2023.

The independent report for NHI, ‘Challenges for Nursing Homes in the Provision of Older Persons Care’, demonstrated how providers are under pressure as they deal with increasingly complex resident profiles and incur rapidly rising operational costs driven by the impact of infection prevention control requirements, inflation, and staffing shortages.

The report found there has been a 36% increase in the operational cost of care per resident since 2017. But the sector claimed there have been only ‘marginal’ increases to revenue streams through the Weekly Fair Deal Rates for residents.

The result was 33% of nursing homes surveyed by PwC reported an operating loss in 2022, up from 19% in 2021.

NHI said it was “unsustainable” and it predicted more nursing home closures were inevitable without reforms to the pricing model and an increased Fair Deal budget.

Tadhg Daly, Chief Executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, said the findings of the report must serve as a wake-up call to Government.  “It is becoming increasingly unfeasible to operate a nursing home in Ireland, due to rapidly rising costs and only very marginal increases in income stream – which is the result of a Fair Deal Rate pricing mechanism no longer suitable for the current operating environment,” Mr Daly said.

He said over 20 nursing homes have closed their doors since the beginning of last year.

“The sector is in a state of crisis and contraction, with more and more homes and beds closing and not being replaced. This has been particularly prevalent among smaller operators in rural areas to date, but will encapsulate medium-sized and larger operators if the status quo prevails. Urgent intervention is required,” Mr Daly added.

The sector needs ‘immediate action’ on Fair Deal rates, he said, to prevent more nursing homes from closing down.

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Connacht Tribune

Baby birds born in scrapped car find a new home in the West

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Baby robin redbreasts born in a car in Dublin – who inadvertently ‘migrated’ to County Galway – are being cared for by a local bird sanctuary.

The four robin chicks were separated from their parents in the capital after their nest, hidden in an end-of-life vehicle, was transported West by a Claregalway couple who bought it for scrap.

When they reached Claregalway and inspected the car, they discovered a nest with four live baby robins in it.

Immediately they rang Galway and Claddagh Swan Rescue, and the chicks are in foster care with volunteer Rebecca.

“They were nestling stage, not yet fledging but close enough,” explained Mary Joyce Glynn of Galway and Claddagh Swan Rescue at Lough Rusheen in Barna.

She agreed they would be missing their parents.

“Oh yes, they would’ve been feeding them, so the volunteer has been hand feeding them since. You foster them to a certain age until they are ready to go and be independent.

“They’re at a huge disadvantage when they don’t have their parents. What our volunteer will do, and she’s experienced in this, she will bring them out into her outdoor area and let them hear birdsong every day, so they realise they are birds and meant to be wild. She will know what the correct time is to let them go,” said Ms Joyce-Glynn.

And she agreed the parents would be in distress.

“I’m sure they are very distressed. That car could’ve been there a couple of months. They would’ve been in and out feeding their babies and the next thing they come, and they’re gone. It’s awful sad,” she said.

But Ms Joyce-Glynn is confident there will be a happy ending for the chicks, which are being cared for by expert Rebecca.

“When you’re rehabbing wildlife the one thing you don’t do is make pets of them because they would have no chance in the wild. They need to be afraid of humans and keep away from humans. You have to keep them wild otherwise their chances (of survival) are very poor,” she said.

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