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CITY TRIBUNE

Mental Health Commission inspectors hit UHG after psychiatric unit revelations

Denise McNamara

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A team of inspectors from the Mental Health Commission began trawling through files at UHG’s psychiatric unit this week, following a series of high-profile crises which saw several suicidal people turned away from the hospital.

The unannounced visit came just one day after a city councillor brandished the front page of last week’s Galway City Tribune in the faces of HSE officials at a Regional Health Forum meeting – it detailed the story of an 18-year-old girl who was rescued from the River Corrib following a suicide attempt, and then refused admission to UHG.

Tony Canavan, a Chief Officer with the HSE, said the article on the psychiatric unit – and a series of others in recent weeks in this newspaper –  made for “difficult reading”.

A source at UHG said the Mental Health Commission (MHC) is “turning the place upside down” this week, poring over files and data on patient numbers.

Over the past three weeks, the Galway City Tribune has detailed a series of incidents in which suicidal patients were denied admission to the psychiatric unit – one subsequently drowned himself; one was told to join the Darkness into Light walk and another had to be held in a Garda cell for her own safety.

A statement from the HSE confirmed that the visit had taken place, adding: “The unannounced visit is not an investigation. The MHC are visiting as part of their unannounced visits to mental health units in Ireland as outlined in their ‘Judgement Support Framework’.

However, a source in UHG said: “It’s no coincidence they [inspectors] arrived this week, after the articles over the past few weeks.”
For the rest of this story, and coverage of the discussion at the Regional Health Forum meeting, 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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra

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An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.

Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.

The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.

It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Larkin and McDonnell out as Frankeen ‘Pacts’ punch!

Dara Bradley

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Cllr Noel Larkin

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The first City Council meeting since the summer recess took place last Monday in Leisureland. There were few raised voices or rows; a sedate affair, it was more straightforward than usual for the start of a new term.

It was as if city councillors were keeping their powder dry. Now we know why.

An hour after the Council meeting ended, the ruling pact’s mayoral agreement disintegrated in a blazing row. And a new pact has now been formed, but not with the combination of councillors that everyone expected.

It’s complicated. But the shenanigans that led to the creation of a new rainbow coalition, with a distinctly Blue(shirt)-hue, gives an insight into the cut-throat nature of local politics, and the rat-like cunning that’s needed to negotiate a path to power.

The collapse of the existing pact [Noel Larkin, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab), Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy (Green)] has its roots in a dispute about Travellers.

After that house near Carnmore, bought by the City Council and earmarked for Travellers, was razed by fire, Larkin gave an interview on local radio, which irked Niall Murphy, a newbie to politics.

Murphy contacted all pact members, denouncing Larkin’s GBFM performance in a cutting email that sailed close to the wind. Larkin was livid. And attempts by pact members to placate him didn’t work.

So, twelve days after pressing ‘send’ on the explosive email, Murphy met Larkin face-to-face at the pact meeting on Monday evening in the Galway Bay Hotel. Fireworks ensued. The exact details of the barbed exchanges are sketchy but what is clear is that when McDonnell and Larkin left, the five who remained in the room, (two pact members were absent) knew the pact was finished.

Larkin and McDonnell had indicated they would negotiate with Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare) and Fianna Fáil (Mike Crowe, Imelda Byrne, Peter Keane, John Connolly, Alan Cheevers).

Those tripartite talks proceeded, and by late Monday, the rainbow pact members had conceded that power had slipped from their grasp.

They hadn’t signed on it, but the prevailing wisdom – among all sides – was that a new FF/FG/Larkin/McDonnell pact would emerge on Tuesday.

Not so fast, said Frankeen Fahy. Unhappy that FG was getting just one mayor in that scenario, he contacted the crestfallen rainbow pact members with an offer – they could keep their Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and deputy mayoral positions already agreed under the previous pact, but give FG two mayors.

The kingmaker was Donal Lyons. The ‘King of Knocknacarra’ forfeited being mayor in return for remaining on as chair of an SPC, and becoming deputy mayor instead.

One last attempt was made by FG to coalesce with FF, but the Soldiers of Destiny refused to budge on a second mayor, and insisted on one each for FF/FF/Ind. Meanwhile, overtures were made between FF and the Greens, but Larkin was a stumbling block to an alternative pact.

The upshot of the wheeling and dealing is a new pact (O’Flaherty, Lyons, Cubbard, Connolly, McNelis, O’Connor, Murphy, Hoare, Fahy, and Higgins). Fine Gael are the big winners at the expense of Larkin, McDonnell, and Fianna Fáil, who once again in City Council pact negotiations grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Larkin)

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.

The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.

The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.

According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.

The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.

“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.

According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.

Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.

This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.

When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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