Administrative staff hired or promoted at NUI Galway no longer require a level of proficiency in the Irish language.
The university has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that the automatic requirement for all administrative grade one, two and three workers to have a level of Irish has been removed.
The change was approved by Údarás na hOllscoile, its governing body, at a meeting last year.
It follows a decision made in 2017 by NUIG to remove proficiency in the Irish language as one of the requirements for being president of the university.
According to minutes of the 2020 meeting – released to Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information – one governing body member objected to the change in policy towards administrative workers having Irish.
The decision to change was recommended by the Academic Council of the university. It was relayed to Governing Body members by Secretary for Governance and Academic Affairs, Clare McCann.
Ms McCann said that the recommendation was to “revoke the requirement of all administrative staff recruited and/or promoted to Grades 1-3 to have competence in Irish”.
The new rules also set out “governance and management arrangements with regard to the role of Irish in the university”.
One member of the governing body, whose name was redacted in the minutes, “noted her objection to the proposal . . . expressing the view that the proposal does not adequately advance the role of the Irish language in the university”.
Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity, told the meeting that her office had received “at least 15 expressions of concern from staff considering making a complaint regarding the university’s position on the Irish requirement for administrative positions”.
She also noted that “many staff will welcome the passing of this statute”.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune this week, a spokesperson for the university said: “University services are delivered through Irish and English as outlined in the university’s Scéim Teanga, thereby requiring a number of positions in each unit to have a high level of Irish.
“The automatic requirement for all Administrative Grade 1, 2, 3 posts to have a low level of Irish has been removed. Simultaneously, each hiring manager, when a post is to be filled, must identify who in the unit is capable of conducting the unit’s business through Irish. Only if this requirement is fulfilled can the post be advertised without a requirement for high-level Irish.”
The decision to abandon proficiency in the Irish language as one of the requirements for being president of NUIG was criticised by former Gaeltacht Minister Éamon Ó Cuív.
“Given that there are four centres of Irish in the university that conduct their business through Irish – Galway, Carna, An Cheathrú Rua and Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal – the question should be how could the new president be expected to carry out his or her business without being able to speak Irish,” Deputy Ó Cuív said at the time.
Current president, Professor Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh was appointed subsequent to that new ruling coming in.
Prof Ó hÓgartaigh is fluent in both languages, carrying on a tradition at NUIG that dates back to 1929 whereby the NUIG President has been able to conduct university business in Irish and English.
School reports better atmosphere and reduced stress due to pilot project
Daily car use at Scoil Iognáid has reduced by 14% in the past year since Galway City Council introduced a School Streets pilot project to the area.
More children are walking (+11%), scooting (+3%) and cycling (+7%) on a daily basis, according to a report published by Galway City Council.
Staff reported that children were arriving to school more ready to learn, with an improved atmosphere and reduced stress at the school gate. Parents and the wider community reported a better walking and cycling environment, improved access and community spirit.
A ‘School Street’ is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times – creating a safer, calmer space for children, parents and residents to walk, scoot or cycle. The pilot project in Scoil Iognáid was formally launched in November, 2020, with hundreds of families joining to create the first city-centre School Streets project in Ireland.
As part of the pilot project, Palmyra Row, Palmyra Avenue and Raleigh Row were pedestrianised from November 30 during the school pick-up and drop-off times during the school term. Residents retain access to their homes during these times, as do cyclists or ‘blue badge’ holders, accessing the school.
The project is funded by the National Transport Authority and delivered with the support of the Green-Schools Travel programme, An Garda Siochána, and the wider school community.
Galway West TD and Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD described the City Council report as “incredibly encouraging”.
She said the findings would provide information on how to boost increased levels of children taking a healthier and greener mode of transport to and from school.
“Crucially, the report and findings published by Galway City Council acts as a step-by-step blueprint for local authorities nationwide to replicate these results in their own counties,” Deputy Naughton stated.
“Earlier this year I launched a new programme, Safe Routes to School, which is investing in safe walking, cycling and scooting infrastructure on the lead-up to and entrances of our schools. The programme aims to deliver and is delivering, results just like those we can see from this School Streets pilot.”
Director of Services at Galway City Council Patrick Greene said there was reason to celebrate as the School Streets pilot turned one.
“The National Transport Authority identifies the front of school as the place where children congregate in the greatest numbers and where they are most vulnerable to indiscriminate parking practices, hazardous crossing conditions and air quality issues from idling cars.
“The School Streets pilot at Scoil Iognáid has created a space where children as young as four and five are scooting and cycling with their older classmates, as they arrive into school. “Galway City Council is now looking to progress ‘Safe Routes to School’ and ‘School Zones’ at more schools in the city – these designs will create a safer front-of-school environment for children and if any opportunities arise to deliver School Streets or ‘traffic-free’ streets. Galway City Council welcomes the opportunity to explore this with the school community,” he added.
The full report from the public consultation on April/ May 2021, and further information on the School Streets project can be found at www.galwaycity.ie/schoolstreets.
Tommy confident that relic from 1914 shipwreck is in sight
BY LORNA SIGGINS firstname.lastname@example.org
When Claddagh native Tommy Holohan was growing up on Galway Bay, he remembered how neighbours used to have contests to swim out to the wreck of a ship off Mutton island.
Now he believes he may have located the anchor of the same ship, named Nordlyset, in the sands off Nimmo’s pier.
“We’re not sure, but the anchor chain is here and close to part of the keel, so there’s every reason to think the actual anchor is a couple of foot below, “Holohan says.
“If it can be located, and then raised, it should be exhibited as a key part of Galway’s maritime history,” he feels.
The Nordlyset, or Northern lights, was a three-masted 1,600-ton steel sailing barque which was built in Greenock, Scotland, in 1891.
It was carrying a cargo of timber deal from Rimouski, Canada, into Galway when it hit rocks off Mutton island in November 1914.
No members of the crew perished, but much of its cargo was either washed ashore or was salvaged, Holohan says.
“They got her off the rocks and towed her in, and the hull was sitting upright and we could see it for several years” he explains.
“The Claddagh men had contests to swim out to her,” he recalls.
“Then Hammond Lane Metal Company was sent to take what was of value from it and stripped it down,” Holohan says.
“It was a beautiful ship, and a ship that sailed the oceans. It was fitted with the most modern technology they had at the time.
“Galway had been setting its sights on becoming a major transatlantic port and, of course it was one of several ships to run aground in the Bay – but perhaps one of the better-remembered by people who are still alive,” Holohan says.
“All that was left after Hammond Lane finished was the keel, and we think the anchor has to be here. “I think if the proper buoys were used, it might help to lift the keel and that would point to the anchor,” he believes.
The wreck was also close to South Park, known as the ‘Swamp;, which was the Galway dump until the late 1950s, he points out.
“When we were growing up on the Claddagh, we had no toys, so we would be back looking for toys in the dump, or food. When my mother was young, she and her sisters were sent down to the dump for cinders for the fire,” he says.
Holohan is a grandson of Nan Toole, who was known for her medicinal cures in the Claddagh. She delivered him as a home birth in 1951 and died a year later in 1952.
A keen athlete, Holohan holds the world record for the number of times an Irish person has run the New York marathon consecutively, and has also run marathons in Dublin, Boston, Edinburgh and the Mojave desert.
He is a founder member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and stood for the alliance in the local elections in 2014, and in the 2016 general election. Apart from politics and running, he also maintains a keen interest in local history.
Publicans in antigen plea to Government
Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.
Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.
Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.
But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.
They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.
They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.
Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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