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Connacht Tribune

Minister: Property Tax hike ‘would pay for cemetery extensions’

Francis Farragher

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Minister Sean Kyne
Minister Sean Kyne

Three Galway West TDs who attended a meeting of Connemara councillors last week were asked to seek a national allocation of funding for the provision of more graveyard spaces in the region.

Minister of State and Galway West TD Seán Kyne, told the councillors that as things stood, there was no ‘national pot of money’ provided for local authorities to fund graveyard extensions or to purchase land for new burial grounds.

Minister Kyne also told councillors that he would make the case to Minister Michael Ring and Minister of State, John Paul Phelan, for such funding to be provided – however, he said, ‘he knew he would be reminded’ that Galway County Council had chosen not to opt for any increase in the Local Property Tax (LPT).

He said that if a relatively modest increase of 5% had been passed in the LPT, a fund of about €750,000 could then be ringfenced for the graveyard extensions.

There were sharp clashes on Friday at County Hall on whether the issue of the LPT should be drawn into the ‘graveyard debate’ – Fianna Fáil councillor, Noel Thomas, said it was ‘disappointing’ that the LPT issue be mentioned as regards the graveyards issue.

“The fact of the matter is that Galway County Council is one of the most underfunded local authorities across the whole country. Rural people don’t have the services – it’s ludicrous to ask them to pay more by way of Local Property Tax,” said Cllr Thomas.

This is a preview only. For the full story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Galway App company Booniverse plans pivotal communication role during COVID-19 emergency

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Deputy Anne Rabbitte

The Booniverse Town App (Xplore, Galway App) is a free to download app created with the initial concept of imparting information on local attractions, events, shopping, accommodation, hikes and trails, cultural and historical information as well as tourist information.

With the arrival of Covid-19, Booniverse has been working in collaboration with The Wild Geese, an East Galway Task Force, co-founded by Deputy Anne Rabbitte, TD for East Galway and Elodie Golden, an experienced digital project manager, to expand the app as a trusted digital tool for communication during the crisis.

According to Deputy Rabbitte: “Our mission was simple, to solve the challenges faced by our rural towns, villages, and communities who were on their knees, from town to town, village to village, community to community.

The Wild Geese community team consists of seasoned leaders and volunteers with a fervent and passionate interest in the renewal of the main towns and villages of East Galway. They have been working very closely with Booniverse Limited over the past 18 months with a view to creating a digital infrastructure for the towns of East Galway, onboarding the towns, villages and communities onto this unique digital ecosystem conceived, created and nurtured by the Galway-based Booniverse Limited.

Elodie Golden said: “Since the COVID-19 crisis began, it quickly became apparent to me that a robust digital infrastructure built over 9 years, on battle-tested technologies and frameworks, could play a pivotal role as an important trusted digital tool for communication during the crisis.”

Deputy Anne Rabbitte said: “I quickly realised the benefits of adopting the town and community app to the Public Health Emergency making it easier for government agencies and locals to communicate swiftly, securely and with tailored messages to our towns, villages and communities”.

Deputy Rabbitte continued: “In particular, the opportunity was there for state bodies such as the Irish Government, HSE, Garda Siochana, County Council to have secure access to the dashboard, to send tailored push notifications to all or to a selected number of locations on behalf of stakeholders”.

“On the community level, access would be available for communities to publish local content, create and share timely, accurate informative updates to volunteer initiatives, news articles, list essential business listings, volunteer services open in the community featuring turn by turn navigation and one-touch call and email”

Deputy Rabbitte concluded “I envisage the roll-out of the community app in two phases.  Phase 1: Covid-19 Emergency and Phase 2: Covid-19 Recovery when all of the retail, hike and trails, tourism features are turned back on and businesses are supported digitally in getting back on their feet.  The app is ready to scale with an experienced digital team behind it, to drive it forward and support our communities in and agile and expeditious manner.”

Talks are currently at advanced stages to roll out the platform to every county in Ireland and moving the Galway App to Xplore which will allow users, regardless of where they are, to download the one app and from there, users simply enable location services or select a region to stay local. The Xplore app is also available currently for a number of Munster towns having been rolled out in conjunction with McCarthy Insurance Group and local Credit Unions.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

New York-based Galwegian thrives in heart of virus epi-centre

Denise McNamara

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Tadhg Reynolds in Times Square, on the empty streets of Manhattan.

An aspiring entrepreneur and Galway native, who had just set up a digital marketing company in New York when the pandemic struck, continues to work twelve-hour days as companies scramble to stay afloat.

Tadhg Reynolds, 24, from Kinvara, left for a better life exactly a year ago, on graduating from NUIG with a degree in Business Information Systems.

On his arrival, he joined a digital marketing start-up in Manhattan focused on e-commerce before branching out on his own, concentrating on Facebook ads, email and Instagram posts for companies in the US as well as in Ireland.

And then Covid-19 sent shockwaves around the world.

America is now the epi-centre of the pandemic and New York has been hardest hit, with 12,000 new cases confirmed and 600 deaths recorded on the day Tadhg spoke to the Connacht Tribune.

Tadhg had been worried that his newly found business would fall by the wayside as digital marketing is usually the first thing cut in hard times.

“I’ve actually started taking on new clients – companies selling home exercise equipment, hand sanitisers, hand moisturisers are doing really well so I’m helping them capitalise and everything seems to be going ok,” he remarks.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals plan for anticipated virus upsurge

Dara Bradley

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ICU staff at Portiuncula Hospital – with a very clear message for the public. Photo taken by hospital staff because of visiting restrictions.

Extra space to store dead bodies prior to burials and cremations has been added at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

Upgrade works at the mortuary had already started prior to the Covid-19 crisis but additional capacity for potential coronavirus deaths was added as a worst case scenario precaution.

‘Preliminary talks’ about the possibility of opening a temporary field hospital in Galway, if in the worst-case scenario the four city hospitals fill-up, have also taken place as part of the HSE’s wide-ranging pandemic plans.

The capacity planning comes as Dr Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director of Saolta Hospitals Group this week warned we are ‘far from over the hump’ in relation to Covid-19 infections and deaths, even though the public’s compliance with social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus.

The latest figures confirm there were a total of 128 positive cases of Covid-19 in Galway, as of midnight on Sunday, compared with 86 the previous Sunday. That’s up 42 cases in a week, but Sunday’s sharp rise of 16 new cases accounted for almost 40%.

Several hospital sources confirmed that temporary refrigerated prefabricated buildings have been installed alongside the morgue. These have increased by many multiples the 15 spaces in the existing, permanent morgue. An autopsy theatre at the morgue has been moved temporarily to the Fever Hospital building at UHG.

Members of the public who contacted the Connacht Tribune had noticed building work at the city morgue at UHG.

Dr Nash said some construction work was progressing beside the morgue on a new laboratory building that will accommodate the blood and tissue establishment unit. That unit was previously granted planning permission as part of an extension to the morgue.

 

See full story – and a further 20 pages of coverage of the Covid-19 crisis – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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