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Men of letters!

Dara Bradley

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Three Galway councillors

Negotiations over the mayoral pact have turned nasty, with caustic accusations and counter-accusations of skulduggery and back-stabbing.

Fianna Fáil, which has been ‘frozen out’ of the mayoralty for the next five years, has lambasted its former colleagues in the outgoing pact for reneging on an agreement to share the spoils of power on Galway City Council.

The FF whip, City Councillor Mike Crowe blasted Fine Gael and former Progressive Democrat independents with both barrels claiming they were “underhand” in shafting them out of a new pact.

Cllr Crowe said he was “disgusted” by the behaviour of the FG whip, Mayor Pádraig Conneely, and the Independents’ whip, Cllr Declan McDonnell.

In over a decade in local politics, Cllr Crowe said he had “never experienced anything as underhand, sneaky and morally corrupt as we have through this experience”. He claims to have reached agreement last Friday on the mayors, deputy mayors and positions on boards and committees with the outgoing pact members. It was to be rubberstamped Monday.

But following jockeying for position over the weekend, four Fine Gael members (Cllrs Conneely, Frank Fahy, John Walsh and Pearce Flannery) and three former PD Independents (Cllrs McDonnell, Donal Lyons, Terry O’Flaherty) struck a separate deal with two newcomer Independents (Noel Larkin and Mike Cubbard) and the Labour Party (Billy Cameron and Niall McNelis) to form a ‘rainbow coalition’ style mayoral pact.

Mayor Conneely and Cllr McDonnell have rejected the accusations levelled by Fianna Fáil. The duo said it was Fianna Fáil who ‘strayed’ over the weekend, and went talking to Independents and Sinn Féin in an attempt to form an alternative pact.

“I am disappointed the way you negotiated with others behind our backs,” Cllr McDonnell said to Fianna Fáil.

Cllr Conneely, shocked at Fianna Fáil’s “hypocrisy”, said: “The cosmetic indignation of (Crowe’s) comments is all the more surprising given that it was Fianna Fáil’s own moves to form a pact with another group that prompted Fine Gael to pursue alternative arrangements.”

The bitter exchanges between all sides are contained in emails, which the Galway City Tribune publishes today in full.

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

Connacht Tribune

Property boom as home workers flock into the west

Stephen Corrigan

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The shift to remote working as a result of Covid-19 has resulted in a continuing surge of people leaving big cities for a better lifestyle in Galway – with skyrocketing house prices the result as serious pressure comes on the county’s limited supply.

One of Galway’s leading auctioneers, Niall Browne of O’Donnellan and Joyce, told the Connacht Tribune that both former and new Galway residents were on the hunt for property in the city and county as they look to escape cities where the cost of living is higher.

“There are people coming from Dublin and further afield, from places like London, because they can now work from home – one-quarter of our sales in the city are to people from outside of Galway.

“There has been a noticeable increase in demand here in recent months; even in the number of email enquiries from people looking to know what is available here and what might be coming up,” said Mr Browne.

This comes as a survey carried out by the Real Estate Alliance concluded that the cost of housing in Galway City will soar by 8% in 2021, with county prices to go up by 4%.

Mr Browne said that increasing prices in Galway City was driving prospective buyers from all over to towns like Moycullen, Barna, Furbo and Spiddal. Craughwell, Oranmore and Clarinbridge were also becoming enviable locations for those in the market.

“You have a lot of people that were originally from Galway, but moved to Dublin for work and now they’re coming back with their families. Being able to work from home is a big part of that, but they might also have family here that can help with childcare.

“The rent in Dublin is also a big factor. If someone is buying in Craughwell, the mortgage might be €1,000 per month, where they might be paying €1,600 to €1,800 in rent for a small apartment in Dublin – and that mortgage would be for a fine big semi-detached property in Craughwell,” said Mr Browne.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Patients and staff exposed to pandemic because of pressure on UHG facilities

Dara Bradley

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Healthcare workers in Galway’s main public hospital were six times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 than the rest of the community during the first wave of the global pandemic last year, new research suggests.

An interim report into a longitudinal study by steering group PRECISE, which measured the prevalence of Covid-19 in University Hospital Galway and St James Hospital in Dublin, also highlighted that a large number of healthcare workers contracted the virus without knowing they had it.

The findings of the report, coupled with new revelations from Government that one in three patients are picking up the virus in hospital, has prompted a Galway TD to push for regular testing of front-line hospital staff.

Galway/Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said: “Our hospitals should be about making people better, not about picking up a virus that could be deadly.

“While the HSE has stuck rigidly to the argument that these infections were as a result of staff picking up Covid in the community, the publication of a HSE report on Covid infection in hospitals exposes the fact that there was a six times higher rate of Covid-19 exposure in our hospitals than in the local community.”

Senior Saolta staff also confirmed the hospital infections in a briefing for Galway City Councillors this week.

The Councillors were told that – despite staff taking all hygiene precautions and wearing full PPE – patients who tested negative on entry to hospital were catching this more infectious strain in wards where up to 13 patients were sharing a single toilet.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway’s master craftsman gets Presidential seal of approval

Dave O'Connell

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President Joe Biden and his wife Dr Jill Biden admire Peter O'Rourke's handcrafted vases during the presentation ceremony.

A master glass cutter who learned his craft in his native Galway can once again see his work take centre stage in the White House – after he hand-cut two unique vases, presented to the new US President and Vice-President last week.

And not for the first time, because Peter O’Rourke – originally from Ballinakill, Woodford, but living in Pennsylvania for the past 40 years – has had the honour of producing one-off pieces for US Presidents stretching back to the crystal jellybean jars he cut for Ronald Reagan.

This was his ninth time to fulfil an inauguration presentation, with his work already adorning the shelves of Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He also worked on many special projects over the years, from custom gifts and stemware for US Senators to creating the awards for PGA/LPGA golf tour winners.

His story featured on Pittsburgh Today last week as he put the finishing touches to his new vases for President Biden and Vice-President Harris.

Both pieces are over two feet high, and while the President’s features the White House, the Vice-President’s is engraved with an image of the US Capitol building.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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