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Connacht Tribune

Our Government and NPHET are destroying morale of Irish people



John McIntyre

Inside Track with John McIntyre –

IS this the most lily-livered Government in the history of our state? Jack Lynch, the legendary Cork GAA hero of the forties and a former Taoiseach, must be turning in his grave at the role his fellow county man, Micheál Martin, is playing in crushing the spirits and morale of a large cohort of the population.

In a sporting context, last Tuesday’s announcement of the tightening of restrictions in the ongoing battle against Covid-19 was the most depressing of the past five months. NPHET is now running the country as Martin and his cabinet colleagues continue to roll over like a lapdog. It’s both demoralising and embarrassing in equal measures.

Is the Government utterly immune to the positive role sport – either from playing or watching – has in Irish society? Everything in this country has been up in a heap since mid-March, but the resumption of GAA club activity in July proved a timely and massive lift to morale. It represented some form of normality and people were grateful for that.

Initially, there was a gathering limit of 200, embracing players, mentors and match officials, with indications that the figure would be increased as time elapsed. But not alone have those planned rises not materialised, now games must be held behind closed doors with no spectators at all.

The reaction up and down the country has unsurprisingly comprised of shock, anger and dismay. People are just scratching their heads at the madness of it all. The Government is losing the Irish people in droves. There is no logic whatsoever to this move, especially when you look at the inconsistencies of the restrictions.

Basically, what NPHET and the Government is telling us: It’s ok to go on a foreign holiday; it’s ok to go to a pub, have a bite to eat and guzzle pints; to continue working in meat factories; play sport but not watch it; and send the kids to school but not go to work. This is just crazy stuff.

We all have our own experiences to illustrate. I am managing my club Lorrha in Tipperary and last Saturday we won a second consecutive hurling championship match for the first time in a decade. We are now through to the county quarter-final and though it’s only Senior B, this a big deal for us.

My father is 88 and Club President. 64 years ago, he won a North Tipp championship with Lorrha and last Saturday he was in Cloughjordan to see the team managed by one of his sons, and including two of grandsons, get the better of a high-scoring shootout with Portroe. He was like a 40-year afterwards: proud as punch and full of joy.

It was the same emotion for so many other families in the parish. There was a lot more than 200 at the game. People were smuggled through the gates in the boots of cars; others sought and found gaps in perimeter fencing; some sneaked in when officials were distracted; a few climbed walls in their desperation to see the game.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’



Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!



Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea



Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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