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Plea to Minister for action on heroin problem in Galway

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Eamon Ó Cuív....sure of his seat.

A local TD has pleaded with the Minister for Health to urgently tackle Galway’s worsening heroin problem.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has also demanded to know what action is being taken to stop the deadly scourge, and in particular, its increase in usage among young people.

And he has also slammed funding cuts for the Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Taskforce.

According to the Department of Health, referrals to the local Methadone Treatment Clinic – which treats heroin and opiate abusers – are on the increase.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar told Deputy Ó Cuív: “The HSE has noted a recent increase in referrals to the methadone Treatment Clinic in Galway, but has not seen any evidence of an increase in heroin use among young people. The HSE has approved additional clinic hours to cater for the increase in client numbers.”

However, Deputy Ó Cuív branded the statement “contradictory”.

“These two statements would seem to be a clear contradiction of each other and perception on the ground is that the increased referrals relates to an increasing heroin addiction problem in the city of Galway,” he said.

Figures were released by the Minister which show that while this year’s funding for the Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force remains the same as 2014 at €660,000, it is down from €702,000 in 2012, a drop of 6%.

The former Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs criticised the cuts.

“At the same time as there is this increase in referrals to the Methadone Treatment Clinic, there has been a drop in funding since 2012, from €702,000 to €661,000 for the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Taskforce.

“The move of responsibility for the drugs issue from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, to the Health Service was a retrograde step, particularly in dealing with heroin abuse, which is very closely linked to social deprivation.

“During the period that responsibility for dealing with the drugs issue rested with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, a holistic view was taken to the whole problem of drug abuse and efforts were made to try and take an integrated approach to tackling the problem dealing.

“Not only with the symptoms of drug abuse, but the causes of it, particularly caused by social segregation and deprivation in the more disadvantaged areas,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

On targeting younger people and drug misuse prevention, Minister Varadkar said: “Over €500,000 has been allocated by the HSE this year to the Jigsaw programme in the Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force area.

“This programme is designed to identify substance misuse issues at an early age and provide targeted health and psychosocial supports to young people affected by problem substance misuse.

“Other workers in the area, funded by the HSE, deliver education and prevention programmes to service providers who work with young people, communities and families. The HSE Drugs Counselling Service also caters for young people from the age of 16 upwards,” said Minister Varadkar.

Connacht Tribune

Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash

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A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.

Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.

The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.

The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them. 

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Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra

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Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.

Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).

The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.

Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.

Road Closures:

  • Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
  • Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
  • Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
  • Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
  • Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
  • Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday

A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given.  Motorists will experience delays as a result.”

The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.

Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).

“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.

“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding.  High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.

“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.

“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.

Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.

“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.

“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so.  Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”

Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.

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