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Connacht Tribune

Love of music has Amy reaching for stars

Judy Murphy

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Amy Harman.

Lifestyle – Bassoonist Amy Harman grew up surrounded by politics as her mother Harriet Harman was deputy leader of the British Labour Party and her father Jack Dromey is also a Labour MP. But from childhood, music was her passion. As Amy prepares to perform at Music for Galway’s Midwinter Festival, she discusses performance, politics and Brexit with JUDY MURPHY.

Classical musicians often have a reputation for being formal and bound by the conventions of their profession, but Amy Harman is part of a new generation who believes in opening up the genre to a wider audience. She’s so dedicated to the cause that, for one production with the Birmingham Opera, the acclaimed bassoonist played her instrument flying high on a trapeze.

That was a few years ago, but London-born Amy says, “I’m delighted to be forever associated with being a flying soloist”.  And she will be bringing that attitude to Galway from January 17-19 when she’ll be taking part in the annual Music for Galway Midwinter Festival

The Birmingham gig was no easy task. It involved spending all day in a trapeze on the roof of a factory for a performance of an opera by the 20th Century German composer Stockhausen.

Stockhausen is a notoriously difficult composer, and “to memorise 45 minutes of his music is no easy feat”, Amy observes. Never mind performing it while flying high above the audience.

“It was nothing like anything anyone had seen before,” she recalls. But Amy points to her father as an example how this unusual approach attracted new fans to music that isn’t exactly regarded as easy listening.

“My dad said it was the best thing he’d ever seen.”

Amy’s dad is Labour MP Jack Dromey, who was raised in Kilburn in London but whose family roots are in Cashel, County Tipperary.

As a child, Amy holidayed regularly in Ireland and has previously visited Galway in a professional capacity, performing in a Music for Galway concert three years ago.

As she’s talking, her 18-month-old daughter, who “is very vocal”, is in the background vying for her attention, so Amy moves to another room, leaving the child in the care of her father, who’s also a musician.

“He’s a horn player and we met sitting next to each other as most people do in our line of work,” she says.

It was never a given that Amy would follow this line of work, because politics rather than music dominated her childhood.

Her mother Harriet Harman has been a leading light in the British Labour Party for decades, having served as its acting leader, deputy leader and as a minister under Tony Blair.  Harriet Harman is also a former Solicitor General for England and Wales and holds the title Mother of the House of Commons, as she’s its longest continuously-serving female MP.

In a Labour party riven by divided loyalties over Brexit, Amy’s parents were Remainers and her mother especially got a lot of flak in the right-wing UK media. Now that it’s all over and the date of Brexit is looming ever closer, Amy says “it’s all pretty dismal. It’s a real shame”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Limited go-ahead for marts

Francis Farragher

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Marts: Individual sales to be allowed.

MART managers and staff across the county are busy this week preparing operating protocols for approval by the Dept. of Agriculture that will allow for the limited sale of livestock during the current COVID-19 emergency.

On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed that they would be allowing marts to handle livestock sales in a limited way – marts will liaise with buyers and sellers; arrange for the weighing of the animals; and process payments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the Dept. had issued guidance to marts for ‘a very limited range of essential services’ that would not require people to assemble: the transactions would include calf sales, the weighing of livestock, and an online or brokerage service.

Ray Doyle of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) this week thanked the Government for their announcement, adding that ‘it was reasonable’ for a form of trading to continue to alleviate the current economic burden on farmers.

He pointed out that only mart staff would handle the animals; the buyer and seller would not have contact with each other; each could observe the weighing data; the buyer could view the animals from a distance; the sale would be completed electronically; no visitors or members of the public would be admitted; full sanitisation protocols would be observed; with the sale to be completed electronically.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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Connacht Tribune

Self-isolation success staves off Covid-19 surge – for now

Dara Bradley

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Anaesthetic Registrar Dr Robbie Sparks with Clinical Facilitator Claire Lavelle simulating an intubation of a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at UHG. (Photo supplied by UHG because of visitor restrictions)

The predicted surge in Covid19-related admissions to Galway’s hospitals has been delayed – for now – giving much-needed breathing space to ramp-up preparations and increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and beds for when it does hit.

But hospital management remains concerned in particular with the ‘significant’ number of staff in the West who have been taken off the frontline because they are ill from coronavirus, or self-isolating as a precaution after coming in close contact with an infected person.

And as the latest figures show 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Galway – seven times the figure from a fortnight ago – the HSE has conceded that local testing for the virus was suspended Sunday due to a shortage of testing kits. Limited testing resumed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, although hospital chiefs in the West insist they have sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), nursing homes across Galway are facing a shortage of basic equipment such as masks, and many have appealed to the public for donations.

Chief Clinical Director Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist, Dr Pat Nash, said UHG, the main Covid-19 hospital in the West, has experienced increased activity but ‘not a huge surge in admissions’.

“The hospital still has significant capacity available both on wards and ICU,” he said.

But Dr Nash stressed there was no room for complacency and the public needed to continue to observe social distancing, stay at home and practice hand hygiene.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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Connacht Tribune

Loan sharks prey on families hit by pandemic

Denise McNamara

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Moneylenders have been targeting working class areas in Galway where hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the lockdown, encouraging them to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

Deputy for Galway East Sean Canny said he had received several reports of estates in the city where leaflets had been distributed recently by legitimate loan sharks.

“These people are licensed so they are not doing anything illegal but I do think it’s immoral in these times and my advice is to ignore money lenders,” he stressed.

“We have credit unions where people can go to for advice and for loans and we have MABS [Money Advice and Budgeting Service] which can provide advice that maybe they don’t need more money but may need to manage their budget better.

“People don’t make the best decisions when they’re stressed but I would really urge them not to go down this road because they can charge interest rates of 187% which is really fleecing people.”

Paul Bailey, Head of Communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions, said they have also been getting reports of leaflets being dropped by moneylenders in working class areas.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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