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Connacht Tribune

New ways to fight age-old global battles

Judy Murphy

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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

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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