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CITY TRIBUNE

Multi-agency Covid-19 response forum launched in Galway

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A new Covid-19 response forum has been formed in Galway City – with more than a dozen agencies including the City Council, the HSE, Gardaí and COPE Galway.

A dedicated community support helpline will be launched on Monday to assist at-risk members of the public.

Galway City Council is the lead agency in the new ‘Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum’.

According to a statement from the Council, the purpose of the forum is to “lead the co-ordination of Covid-19 community supports and resilience and to ensure that there is a co-ordinated community response, enabling all the voluntary and statutory agencies to collaborate in support of our communities and particularly our most vulnerable members”.

The new helpline will assist at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the current public health emergency.

“The helpline is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels,” the statement reads.

Included in the Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum are: Galway City Council; Health Service Executive; An Garda Síochána; Community Welfare Service; Galway City Partnership; Galway City Community Network; Galway Volunteer Centre; COPE Galway and other community, voluntary and sports representatives

“Its core aim is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. Galway City Council, through this group, will ensure that the wide variety of groups working across the city to assist those in need, will do so in an organised, collaborative and targeted way.

“The Community Response Forum is there to ensure the very best use of the many resources assisting vulnerable persons with their daily needs at this unprecedented time, whether that is collecting medication, food shopping, social support and contact,” the statement reads.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said: “There are a number of agencies currently doing excellent work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities. These groups are currently operating independently of each other and Galway City Council’s role is to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of these much needed services to our more vulnerable citizens across the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Galway City Council is ideally placed both statutorily and regionally to channel this great work and provide the governance structure in partnership with all stakeholders.  This public health crisis has changed life for so many, and we are there to help with that change.

“Our own staff whose day-jobs have changed due to this crisis, will be a key resource in the management and operation of this community support programme along with our partner agencies/groups,” said Mr McGrath.

Set to come into effect from Monday, March 30, a dedicated Freephone number will be available in the coming days but in the meantime members of the public can access this new resource by calling Galway City Council on 091 536 400 or by emailing covidsupport@galwaycity.ie

An information leaflet including the new freephone number and other information will be distributed around the city over the coming days.

CITY TRIBUNE

Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year

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From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option

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From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway

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Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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