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Connacht Tribune

New ways to fight age-old global battles



GLAN’s Galway offices are based in the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUIG. In the UK, it operates out of Garden Court Chambers, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London.

Lifestyles – NUIG Law graduate Gearóid Ó Cuinn is passionate about human rights and is the driving force behind the unique GLAN Network. He tells JUDY MURPHY how it works locally, nationally and internationally to take on governments and multi-nationals when their economic and political actions are destroying people’s lives.

Sometimes you have to follow your gut. That’s what Waterford-born Gearóid Ó Cuinn did while the science graduate from UCD was on a scholarship to Notre Dame University in the USA in 2001.  The result of his gut decision is a unique organisation, working out of Galway, that works with communities and professionals all over the world to challenge global human rights abuses.

Gearóid was in America when New York’s Twin Towers were attacked, an event that led to the US-UK invasion of Iraq. That invasion awakened something in Gearóid, leading him away from science and towards law.

He began dropping into lectures in International Law given by Defence Rights lawyer Juan Mendez, who had been imprisoned and tortured by the Argentinian dictatorship in the 1970s and later became UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Soon after, Gearóid changed course.

He returned to Ireland to pursue a law degree at NUIG. Gearóid attended lectures by night and did “substitute teaching in Spiddal by day and pulled pints in Áras na nGael at night” to pay his way.

The NUIG Law Department had “a great set of characters who were great to back you up and give advice”, he says of his time there.

Gearóid went on to do a PhD in the University of Nottingham and then lectured in law at Lancaster University. But his heart was elsewhere and he “wanted to do something a little less passive”.

During his college holidays, Gearóid had volunteered in Palestine and the occupied Golan Heights, and what he experienced in those places stoked his desire for justice.

This quietly spoken man points out that nothing in the world is unconnected and while he was in Palestine in 2004, he saw “Irish cement being poured into the separation wall”. Gearóid is referring to the barrier built by the Israelis in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

The International Court of Justice deemed this structure illegal under international law at that time, but it still exists, with dreadful consequences for Palestinians.

“The Irish connection to what was going on in Palestine showed that our own back garden wasn’t being put in order,” says Gearóid about this country.

Soon after graduating from Galway he decided to take action and set about “pulling the expertise of colleagues together, using it to address cross-border issues”.

That’s what he’s been doing since, firstly with Ceartas, Irish Lawyers for Human rights in Galway, and then with GLAN, which has offices in London, Galway and Berlin and links with legal firms all over the world and with universities including Yale and Stanford in the USA.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars



Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team



Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78



Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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