Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley
The dangers of self-censorship became a flashpoint at the latest HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting.
The monthly meeting offers Councillors from across the West, including Galway’s two local authorities, the only opportunity to hold managers in the health system to account in a public forum.
Because media is there, it is open and transparent. Members are permitted to submit four written questions in advance about policy or issues with hospitals or services.
They get a written reply at the meeting, and have the opportunity to further tease out the answer with a follow-up oral question. The written replies are usually very civil-servicey, but the oral response from the head-honchos in Saolta University Health Care Group, the HSE, and senior hospital staff, can be illuminating.
Often questions are ‘negative’ or highlight shortcomings in the health system but that’s the nature of things – there’s no point asking questions about perfectly functioning elements of healthcare. And they’re often posed by politicians whose sole intention is that the service is improved on the back of them highlighting it.
It’s not just politicians lashing the HSE, although sometimes that happens. It is also an opportunity for managers to explain complex problems. Questions at the HSE forum are a vital component of a functioning health service.
That’s why City Councillor Declan McDonnell’s suggestion that members should only be allowed to ask three questions, instead of four, was greeted with contempt by his colleagues.
Declan moaned that the forum had spent an hour and a half responding to questions. Ah, diddums.
Four questions each was “too many”, he said. “It’s not what the health forum is about . . . it should be about policy,” he added.
To which several councillors responded that questioning the unelected health executive is exactly what the forum is about.
Roscommon Cllr Tony Ward was having none of it – his area is far too big to be reducing the scope to question officials. He said four was the maximum questions they could ask, but it’s not a target, and there was no obligation on members to ask any questions at all.
Mayo Cllr Michael Kilcoyne railed against Declan’s ‘charter for self-censorship’.
“We’d be the laughing stock of the region if we did that,” he said. “There’s no point muzzling ourselves. They (health officials) would be delighted with it because they don’t want us asking questions. We should be asking more questions. This is the only forum where we can hold them to account,” he said.
Tony Canavan, the new Chief Executive of Saolta, who is quite adept at answering questions and is fair and honest in his responses, welcomed the suggestion. “We’d be very happy to accommodate it,” he said, with a straight face . . . which is exactly why Declan’s suggestion should be rejected outright.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Huge reward for ‘dognap’ – as canine companion dies of broken heart
Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most famous dog, Biggy the Irish Wolfhound, has “died of a broken heart” after his Jack Russell best mate was the victim of a suspected ‘dognap’ – which led to the owner putting up a €20,000 reward.
Following a social media campaign which went viral, Biggy was famously reunited with his family 11 days after he went missing in 2013. He was discovered on the motorway outside Athenry.
Nine years later, James Leopold Mechels has erected hundreds of posters all over the city and suburbs in a desperate bid to find the ageing Jack Russell he calls ‘Little One’.
The Belgian native recently increased a reward for the return of his beloved pooch from €1,000 to €20,000. But so far, no credible sightings have been made.
“He’s been missing for 3,288 hours – 137 days, I’m so exhausted, so upset, so anxious. I’ve stopped working to focus all of my effort into finding him. I’ve cycled all over the city, I’ve driven to the horse fair in Ballinasloe,” James told the Galway City Tribune this week.
This is a preview only. To read more of James’ story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
■ Anybody with information is asked to call 087 0650678 or Ark Vets on 091 584185.
Row deepens over Tiny Traders market
Galway City Tribune – The row between the Tiny Traders Village and Galway Arts Centre – the operators of Nuns’ Island Theatre – deepened this week as the Arts Centre announced its intentions to open its own market on the site.
Manager of the Tiny Traders Village, Paul David Murphy, has claimed this was proof that it was always Galway Arts Centre, and its Managing Director, Páraic Breathnach’s, intention to “force” them out, adding that he had felt under constant threat of being shut down.
“It did come as a bit of a shock, but it was something I was expecting,” said Mr Murphy of a post on social media announcing that a new market would open.
“It’s now obvious that they were trying to get rid of us and I can’t believe how transparent they’ve been. Up until this point, there had been a little degree of mystery as to why this happened. It’s sad because the Tiny Traders Village was working really well.”
This comes following a decision by the Tiny Traders to cease trading two weeks ago, citing changes that Galway Arts Centre had requested that Mr Murphy said would have made his business “unviable”.
Speaking to the Galway City Tribune this week, Páraic Breathnach confirmed that they had requested changes – involving layout alterations and clearance – but this had been done due to health and safety concerns.
“There were changes requested to comply with fire regulations, safety and health. They were in relation to the blocking of pathways, the blocking of fire exits, clearance between stalls and the affixing of canopies to a listed building,” said Mr Breathnach.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
Call for Gardaí to confiscate vehicles involved in fly-tipping
Galway City Tribune – confiscation of vehicles – and driver disqualification – have been sought by a Galway TD and a local councillor for those involved in illegal dumping.
According to Independent TD, Noel Grealish and Independent councillor, Noel Larkin, illegal dumping on the east side of Galway City has now reached ‘an all-time high’.
Last week, Deputy Grealish and Cllr Larkin, met with Climate Action and Environment Minister, Richard Bruton, to seek new measures cracking down on those involved in illegal dumping.
“I asked Minister Bruton to introduce legislation that would result in driver disqualification for persons convicted of illegal dumping while using a vehicle. I am also seeking for the introduction of legislation that will give judges the power to order the confiscation of vehicles used for illegal dumping,” said Deputy Grealish.
The Gardaí and Galway City and Council Councils have now been asked to establish an ‘all-county initiative’ to tackle the problem.
This year, Galway City Council was allocated just €50,000 from a €7.4m Government fund to tackle illegal dumping – the lowest figure of any local authority in the country.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage of the illegal dumping issue, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.