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Mortuary staff unaware man had Hepatitis C virus



A man who died in UHG, seven days after collapsing in a friend’s garden last year, was found to have had a highly-infectious disease which had not been communicated to mortuary staff, an Inquest into his death heard.

Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, said that while his main concern was for the people that his office employed, this was also a wider public health issue that needed to be further investigated.

“He had a contagious infectious condition, and because the people in the (mortuary) lab weren’t informed, the risk could have been passed on,” he said.

“People should be warned if someone has an infectious disease.”

He determined the cause of death, in accordance with the medical evidence, but deferred the case for another month to allow the consultant in charge at the time of his admission the opportunity to account for his or her actions.

Joseph McDonagh (65), of 68 Walter Macken Place, Mervue, died in UHG on August 1, 2017, having been admitted with a skull fracture a week earlier.

A family friend had told the inquest that he had called unexpectedly to her house in Bohermore on the evening of July 23 last. He was quite intoxicated on leaving, and had insisted on walking home. Early the next morning, however, a neighbour knocked at her door to say that a man was lying in her garden.

“She told me not to bother him, that he had been causing trouble,” the neighbour recalled in her deposition.

“I told her there was blood all over his head.”

He was taken to the emergency department of UHG, where his Glasgow Coma Scale, which records a patient’s level of consciousness, was 3/15. A CT brain scan revealed a severe head injury, and neurosurgeons in Beaumont Hospital deemed him unfit for transfer or for surgical intervention.

He was subsequently admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for one-to-one care.

Following hospital admission, Gardaí carried out door-to-door enquiries in the vicinity, but no neighbours recalled anything out of the normal.

“We did not establish any foul play in the head injuries sustained by Mr McDonagh,” Detective Garda Tom Doyle, told the inquiry.

Mr McDonagh’s condition did not improve, however, and he passed away on the morning of August 1 2017. Death was pronounced at 2.15am, and his remains were identified to Garda Damian Walsh by Mr McDonagh’s sister, Bridie Lawlor.

The death was reported to the Coroner, as are all unexpected deaths, and he directed consultant pathologist, Dr Margaret Sheehan, to carry out a post mortem examination.

While perusing past medical records, however, Dr Sheehan discovered that Mr McDonagh had the Hepatitis C Virus, an infectious disease affecting the liver that is spread by blood-to-blood contact.

She pointed out that neither she, nor the staff assisting her, had been warned of this.

She concluded that death was due to a massive traumatic injury to the brain, associated with a significant skull fracture. Pulmonary oedema and bronchopneumonia would have occurred after the injury, she added.

Dr MacLoughlin adjourned the inquiry for a month for the consultant on duty to make a statement, and to appear in person, to explain why a toxicology screening had not been performed on admission, including a blood/alcohol reading, and why mortuary staff had not been advised of the inherent danger posed by Mr McDonagh’s blood.

“This is a serious public health issue,” he said.

“Because I employ the consultant and mortuary technician, it is incumbent on me to ensure that the highest standards of health are afforded to all of these people.”

He advised the large McDonagh family, however, that despite this unresolved matter, a death certificate would be made available within a week.

He concluded that death was due to bronchial pneumonia and pulmonary oedema, as a result of a traumatic brain injury and a fractured skull, sustained in a fall.

“There is no evidence that he was the victim of an assault,” he added.

“A death certificate will be available, but we will call the consultant (on duty) to explain why the lab (mortuary) was not informed, and why an alcohol level was not taken on admission.”

The Coroner has also sought to find out if other hospital staff knew Mr McDonagh had this virus, and were barrier nursing care methods put in place as a result.


Drinks set to flow again in two landmark Galway premises



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two popular Galway pubs that had been closed are to be given a new lease of life by an extended family.

The refurbishment of the former Central Bar in Woodquay has been almost completed and new owner Michael Gilmore will open the doors this weekend – just in time for the busy Christmas season.

The pub, in recent years known as The Lough Inn, had closed during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mr Gilmore is a well-known publican in the city, running the Cellar Bar on Eglinton Street and Seven on Bridge Street. He also has a pub in the heart of Westport called An File.

Earlier this year his two nephews, Mark and Vinny Gilmore, bought Kelehan’s in Bushypark. They are overseeing a major overhaul on the large premises after many years behind closed doors.

Due to setbacks with building supplies, a planned opening by Christmas has now been pushed back until the spring.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune.  You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Warning to parents after Galway homes raided in child sexual abuse material investigation



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A senior Garda, who heads up Galway’s Protective Services unit, has advised parents to ‘tune into’ the daily dangers lurking on the internet in relation to child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Detective Inspector Peter Conlon – who confirmed that four search warrants had been issued to search residences in the city over recent weeks for CSAM – urged all parents and guardians closely monitor their children’s access to the internet.

He told the Galway City Tribune it was critical that parents did not allow their children ‘unfettered access’ to the internet given the prevalence of sexual predators – often from other jurisdictions – who were trawling the net to make contact with children.

“Children may believe that they are making contact with other children but instead it may be adults seeking to establish a relationship with them and to get pictures of them.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

“I would ask all parents to seriously and carefully consider the age at which they should give mobile phones to their children – any such decision needs to be age appropriate and where this happens it needs to be monitored closely by the parents,” said Det Insp Conlon.

He also said that parents and guardians should acquaint themselves, where practical, with the latest technologies which make it possible for them to be linked into their children’s phone or devices to monitor content and contacts at all times.

The searches in the city over the past two weeks resulted in the seizure of laptops and other electronic devices from three residences – they are currently being examined in detail by Garda technical experts at their regional HQ in Renmore. Det Insp Conlon said that while there had been no arrests in the city following the latest searches, the course of their investigations would be determined by the content and material found in the devices seized.

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Just 85 affordable homes to be built in Galway City by 2025



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  A total of just 85 affordable homes will be built in Galway City during the remainder of the Government’s lifetime, it was revealed during a debate in the Seanad this week.

An animated Senator Ollie Crowe (FF) told Seanad Éireann that there would be “riots on the streets of Galway” at the disappointing news that was imparted to him by a junior minister.

In the Dáil, Junior Housing Minister, Malcolm Noonan, confirmed that it was planned to provide 85 affordable homes as part of a Merlin Woods development between now and 2025.

He understood that there were sites identified for affordable housing schemes in other parts of the city, but no applications had been received for funding.

“Housing delivery in Galway City Council is a matter for Galway City Council and it is down to the local authority to strike the balance in respect of social and affordable housing delivery.

“If the Senator feels that the local authority is not delivering enough in that regard, it is really a matter for them to drive a more ambitious agenda. The Department will not be found wanting in funding schemes,” Minister Noonan added.

But Senator Crowe yesterday told the Galway City Tribune that it was an incredibly disappointing and unacceptable answer that there would only be 85 new builds when it came to affordable homes.

(Image: Minister Malcolm Noonan said the new Merlin Woods development will include 85 affordable homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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