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Connacht Tribune

Minister’s position kept open – but 50 GMIT jobs slashed

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A Government Minister’s teaching position at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) will not be axed in the swingeing cutbacks planned at the third level college.

GMIT is planning to slash up to 50 jobs through a series of redundancies, non-replacement of staff who retire and non-renewal of temporary contracts.

The cuts are part of an overall plan to reduce the college’s €40 million-plus annual payroll costs.

However, the Connacht Tribune has learned that the position previously held by Seán Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, will be retained.

The Department of Building and Civil Engineering at the city campus is planning to fill the position left vacant by the Galway East TD, who is on leave or a ‘career break’ from his quantity surveying lecture position.

In an email to staff, Head of Department Mary Rogers, who is also a member of GMIT’s Governing Body, confirmed that they will seek to retain two positions for the new 2017/2018 academic year.

This was agreed, she said, following a meeting with current GMIT president Fergal Barry, and its financial controller Jim Fennell.

The email said: “Only two of the advertised posts will progress to interview – namely AL in Quantity Surveying (to cover Sean Canney’s hours) and AL in BIM (to cover hours for HDip in BIM and new BRE programme).”

Minister Canney was a lecturer but his hours will be covered by an assistant lecturer, according to the correspondence.

Ms Rogers informed staff that plan agreed with Messrs Barry and Fennell stated that “No additional academic hours will be approved over those already in place in the current academic year 2106/2017. Any additional hours required are to be dealt with through timetabling.”

Staff to student ratios will increase, she said, and so will the targets for the number of students enrolled.

Ms Roger’s email is an example of the implementation of cutbacks at a micro level, on the ground at its campuses in Galway and Mayo.

All other departments at GMIT are finalising cutback plans to rein-in spending.

GMIT has been running budget deficits for the four years to 2015, which, according to a new report, is threatening, “the viability and sustainability of its core operations in the longer term”.

The report, compiled by Michael O’Connell – a former financial controller at Limerick IT, when he was a colleague of Mr Barry – recommends cost reductions and income generation totalling €5 million for 2015-2020.

The suite of measures to reduce the €40 million-plus annual payroll costs, include non-replacement of staff who retire, non-renewal of temporary contracts, and redundancies.

The remaining staff will undergo the “retraining, reassignment and redeployment” to “create efficiencies” and to “absorb this reduction in capacity”.

On page four of the document, under sub-heading ‘control of staff costs’, Mr O’Connell, says, in bold and underlined: “GMIT’s staff costs have not reduced as its income has declined and it is necessary for this report to address in a definitive way this difficult but absolutely critical issue. The overriding requirement is that GMIT’s staff costs must be brought into line with what GMIT can afford.”

The report then outlines the argument in favour of job losses in academic and non-academic staff.

The O’Connell report says GMIT has 642 whole-time-equivalent (WTE) staff posts being paid by the exchequer, which is “50 posts more than authorised” under the State’s Employment Control Framework.

GMIT pays a further 42 WTE staff from its own resources, but the report says “these posts must be re-examined” because of the “significant and sustained overall deficit”.

It has a further 21 WTE staff self-financed by a campus company.

It highlights how GMIT is funding 705 posts, compared with 651 in the 2011/2012 academic year, when GMIT had 400 more students.

“Clearly this increase (in staff) has contributed very significantly to GMIT’s ongoing deficits,” it said.

The report identifies that a “large portion” of the unfunded excess cost of payroll is from non-academic staff.

“It is recommended that over a three-year period GMIT reduces its staff numbers to the authorised Employment Control Framework level of 592.”

Connacht Tribune

Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary

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Crowds flock to the Fairgreen at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.

Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.

“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.

Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close  – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.

The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.

Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.

“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.

“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.

Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

A remarkable rally sees St Thomas’ reel in the ’Bridge

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Clarinbridge's Conor Lee tries to shake off the attentions of St Thomas' Victor Manso during Saturday's Senior A Group tie at Kenny Park. Photos: David Cunniffe.

St. Thomas’ 4-20

Clarinbridge 4-17

DARREN KELLY AT KENNY PARK

NOTHING at ‘stake’ but pride and last year’s two senior hurling championship finalists had plenty of that on Saturday as St. Thomas and Clarinbridge served up a thriller in their final group game.

Both teams were already guaranteed places in the knockout stages but for the winners, a path straight through to the quarter-finals proper was the reward and they played like that meant everything.

Obviously, neither side wanted to show weakness ahead of a potential showdown later in the year. The contest even had a half-time scuffle that resulted in yellow cards for St. Thomas’ duo John Headd and Conor Cooney.

Despite all that and the changing weather, the hurling was the only item for discussion afterwards. Three first half Clarinbridge goals gave them a 3-10 to 0-11 interval lead.  Four green flags for St. Thomas in the second period reminded the county that they still are the team to beat.

And that was the talking point before throw-in following their 22-match unbeaten streak ending with a heavy defeat to Turloughmore two weeks previously. And it wasn’t looking any better for St. Thomas’ when TJ Brennan struck a second minute goal for Clarinbridge.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Recalling strange times that ‘shook up’ our lives

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE other day while doing another of those clear-outs of old documents that are well past their sell-by-date, I came across a couple of letters from my employer, which jolted me back into another world . . . but still a quite recent one.

Their purpose was to indicate that I needed to show up for work in-person (an essential employee if you don’t mind!) and if I was stopped at a Garda Covid checkpoint, then I could produce this piece of paperwork. We really did go through some strange times.

There are occasions too when I leave my desk and just for a split-second think that I’ve forgotten to don my mask. That same feeling also crosses my mind at times as I enter shops or other public places but then I realise that’s all very much of ‘yesterday’s news’.

Reminders still persist of those black days across the country mostly on visits to healthcare settings like pharmacies, GP surgeries or nursing homes, where staff still wear masks, and visitors are encouraged to do the same.

It takes me back to a Sunday evening on March 15, 2020, in my local watering hole less than 48-hours before the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, when we were all highly sceptical about any pubs closing down.

We reassured ourselves too that such a development could never happen in a country noted for ‘the craic’ as our traditional day of national celebration approached. In our innocence, we thought we were wise old sods . . . but we had gotten things spectacularly wrong.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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