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NUIG’s wellbeing conference sees college hit with €22,000 loss



An NUI Galway conference on ‘mindfulness’ cost more than €37,000 to host.

The two-day event on-campus last October incurred a net loss of over €22,000, when income from sponsorship contributions and ticket sales are factored in.

The costs incurred include €6,350 for hotel accommodation for guests, as well as €1,000 for taxis for speakers. Another expense was listed as “gifts”, which amounted to €1,625.

Some €15,000 – nearly half of the overall outlay – was attributed to “consultancy costs” but the university has refused to say who these fees were paid to.

The details were released to the Connacht Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mindfulness, associated with Buddhism, is a way of paying attention to the ‘here and now’ and developing ‘peace of mind’.

According to NUIG a number of “high level” speakers and “mindfulness visionaries” gave talks at the Mindful Way conference on Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10 last.

Among the “key speakers” were Alfert Tolle, Google’s ‘compassion guy’; Gelong Thuben, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk; Chris Ruane, a former British Labour Party MP; and Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy – or Sister Stan – the poverty campaigner.

Jim Browne, president of NUIG, was a panellist who joined the speakers in a roundtable discussion on mindfulness in education, as did president of Burren College of Art, Mary Hawkes Green.

NUIG’s speakers ‘team’ at the conference included: Lokesh Joshi, vice-president for research; Chris Curtin, vice-president for innovation and performance; and Emily Lane founder of the Corporate Wellbeing Institute.

The panel chair was Seán O’Driscoll of Athrú Consultancy.

The full costs of the conference were €37,112.45.

The event was free for NUIG staff and students but tickets’ sales from the public generated income of €1,415; and sponsorship amounted to €13,000. The net cost when income is accounted was €22,697.45.

As well as €1,000 for taxis, €6,350 on hotel accommodation, which was for two nights for 10 guests, and €1,625 for gifts, other costs included: €1,170 for stationery; €1,370 for design and marketing; €1,078 for photography costs; €600 for digital graphics; €1,845 for programme brochure design and layout; €2,727 for printing; and €140 for bank charges.

Some €360 was paid for catering costs and NUIG spent €419 for dinner at Kirwan’s Lane restaurant.

Consultancy costs totalled €15,000 in three separate payments of €2,400, €8,400 and €4,200.

NUIG said: “The consultancy costs cover project management of the conference, assisting with and contributing towards programme design, and overall contribution toward the running of the conference and the mindfulness initiative.”

NUIG refused to release who the money was paid to as it said it was “personal data”. The Tribune appealed but it was not upheld.

“The costs referred to were incurred by the engagement of an individual as a short-term part-time employee of the university rather than as an external consultant,” said university secretary Gearóid Ó Conluain.

He added: “The university has been requested by the individual not to release the personal data”.

This refusal can be appealed to the Information Commissioner.

NUIG said the mindfulness conference, “brought together mindfulness visionaries, entrepreneurs, political and social and university students and staff, to share the evidence-based impact of mindfulness on performance, well-being, entrepreneurship and society.”

NUIG said it was attended by some 236 delegates over the two days.

It added: “The conference drew broad and international awareness to the concept of mindfulness and its potential in a university setting from the perspective of organisational development for both staff and students. At its core is an openness and commitment to explore the opportunities presented by mindfulness in enhancing the university’s ability to deliver on the Vision 2020 strategy.

“The university is of the view that integrating mindfulness will build a stronger sense of community, wellbeing and self-motivation among students and staff. The Mindful Way conference was highly successful and the attention from global leaders in mindfulness and prestigious journals reflects the transforming nature of NUIG’s Mindful Way initiative.”

The press release flagging the conference in October, said: “NUIG intends to become a mindful university, one that is aware of the challenges faced by its student and staff, and is preparing itself to lead the higher education sector by setting a new model on how to build a sustainable and successful institution of education, research, life-long learning and sharing. The conference is one of the first steps towards integrating mindfulness into the university culture.”


Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service



The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.


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Park fun to mark Africa Day



Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’



At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon


A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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