The Bishop of Galway has slammed the Society of the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) for a large allocation towards a new city resource centre for the gay community, which he said promotes a culture that was “morally wrong”.
The €45,000 donation came from the Maureen O’Connell Fund, which was set up after she bequeathed her pub, O’Connell’s on Eyre Square, to the society which later sold for €7.8m.
Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan wrote to the charity organisation at local and national level this week after confirmation of the donation to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community support group Amach was published in the Connacht Sentinel.
The Bishop has requested the reasons behind the funding and hinted that it could jeopardise the relationship between the society and the Catholic Church, which regularly held collections for the charity.
Yesterday, Bishop Drennan told Galway Bay FM he took the decision to write the letters after queries were made to his office which he believed proved the society’s reputation had been damaged.
“My problem is with the moral judgment involved in making the decision,” he remarked.
“Gay culture is a different culture. We respect their view. But in our eyes it’s morally wrong behaviour and we cannot put funds at the service of behaviour we don’t believe is morally correct… We cannot be seen to support a culture that promotes that kind of activity.”
“There’s a lot of damage to their own supporters who are asking should we support Vincent De Paul any longer.”
Vice chairperson of Amach, Nuala Ward, invited the Bishop to sit down and talk with the organisation to discuss their work, which involved collaborating with bodies such as the Health Service Executive, the gardaí and suicide prevention groups.
“I’m sure when he’d see the work we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how the wider community – not just the LGBT community are benefiting – I’d be confident he’d change his mind,” she remarked.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s just a pity he didn’t contact us first before making these statements.”
A spokesman for SVP said the impression out there that the society was a Catholic organisation run under the auspices of the Church was wrong.
“It has a Christian, Catholic ethos. We have very close ties with the Catholic Church, but we have a board of management which is a lay board of management, the Hierarchy has no representative. No other motive can be attributed to the grant other than for need, just as is the case for the 60 other grants approved,” he stated.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.