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Connacht Tribune

Poor communications at core of cervical cancer scandal

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Bravery...Vicky Phelan outside the Four Courts last week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

The cervical cancer scandal isn’t about false smear tests; it is about disclosure – or to be more accurate, lack of disclosure, coming from the recent past when conveying all the full and relevant information to patients was not a priority.

The thinking, of course, has evolved. Informing the patient (or the patient’s family), in a sensitive manner, is not only the right thing to do; it is a right.

A decade ago, it was decided to outsource cervical smear tests. Up until then, the smear tests were done in Irish public laboratories but the service was not comprehensive and there were long delays in getting results back.

The argument at the time was that there was an urgent need for a national screening programme that was capable of delivering results quickly to women. By then, it was well established that early intervention, on the basis of results from a smear test, would be critical in dealing with cervical cancer, one of the most serious cancers for women, with a high mortality rate.

So a comprehensive national programme was put in place. The testing was outsourced, mainly to the US. They could do more tests and produce results very quickly, within weeks. The cost was also much less.

But from the start there were issues. Routinely, smear testing took place far more frequently in the US, once a year typically compared to every three years in Ireland. And the different systems, methodologies and standards produced different results that varied slightly.

And over-riding all of this is that smear tests are not always 100 per cent accurate. They give an indication only and sometimes there can be false positives and false negatives.

So it was always the case the service would have to go back to women and say that what had seemed negative in the initial smear test, might in fact have been positive.

Cervical Check has undoubtedly saved lives; over one million women have taken the test in the past decade.

Almost 1,500 cases of cervical cancer were identified since 2008 and the latest information suggests that in 206 of these cases, there was delay in the cancer being detected. This might suggest that there could have been earlier intervention.

It has also emerged that 17 women in this group have since died.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune marks Local Newspaper Week

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Support...Media Minister Catherine Martin.

Local newspapers around Ireland – including the Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune – are highlighting their contribution to their own communities by celebrating Local Newspaper Week.

Readers in print and online are being encouraged to support their local newspapers by buying a copy at their newsagent or taking out an online subscription.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin added her voice to support the campaign this week.

“Local newspapers hold a special place in our communities, telling the stories of the people who live and work in them, celebrating the vibrancy of the places we call home, and shining a light on the matters that are important to us,” she said.

“Growing up, the Northern Standard was a constant in my household. A cornerstone of our community. That close relationship with local newspapers is something that’s replicated in communities throughout the country, and it’s something to be treasured now and in the future.

“In recognition of the importance of local media, I secured €6 million in Budget 2023 for the establishment of the Media Fund. This will initially fund two schemes, a Local Democracy Reporting Scheme and Courts Reporting Scheme, which will be administered by Coimisiún na Meán on a platform-neutral basis,” she said.

Connacht Tribune operations manager Declan McGuire is the current President of Local Ireland, which represents publishers of paid-for weekly newspapers across the country.

“It’s important to recognise the contribution made by newspapers in print and online to their local cities, towns, villages and parishes,” he said.

“We are there week-in, week-out and even during the economic challenges of COVID when businesses slowed or stopped altogether, we kept publishing to keep our readers informed.

“We have come through recession, a huge loss of advertising to the tech giants, the COVID slowdown and now we face a cost of living and energy crisis, along with a 150% increase in the cost of our basic raw material, newsprint, over the last 18 months.

“We have had encouraging support from our Minister Catherine Martin, Government and opposition parties and we hope to receive more following the recommendations of the Future of Media Commission.”

Executive Director of Local Ireland Bob Hughes described local newspapers as the lifeblood of local communities.

“They are a mirror to our cities, towns, villages and parishes. Where else would you find coverage of news, sports, entertainment and local issues in such detail?” he asked

“We are valued as public service content providers and this has been recognised by both the Future of Media Commission, Government and our Minister.

“We face serious challenges to our journalism and are looking for Government support in many areas, such as funding from the new media commission, partnership agreements with the tech platforms, reform of our defamation laws and a fair share of Government advertising,” he said.

“We also need public support for what we do and the best way to do this is to buy a newspaper or take out an online subscription. We have never had so many readers thanks to our new digital audience.”

 

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Connacht Tribune

Magnificent property boasts all the elegance of a showhouse

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High standard of finish: Bóthar na Mias in Kinvara.

Farrell Auctioneers are handling the sale of this magnificent home at Bóthar na Mias in Kinvara.

Number 19 simply oozes style and there’s no question it’s right up there with the best of showhouses.

It boasts character and comfort with its design allowing light to flow brightly throughout – thanks to the large glass wall window it features.

A three-bed property, there is also potential for a fourth bedroom on the ground floor. The living area and kitchen are tastefully designed and laid out with modern day comforts in mind.

The bespoke kitchen is every homemakers dream, with its floor to ceiling kitchen units as well as many other features.

This beautiful residence is located within walking distance of Kinvara Bay which is one of the most desirable places to live in the world. Not alone would the property make a beautiful family home and the occupants would have the benefit of the unrivalled natural beauty that the area has to offer, but this lively picturesque village has all amenities needed for everyday living such as schools, childcare, post office, a host of restaurants/cafes/bars, playground, medical centre, hotel, GAA facilities not to mention the instant access to a selection of beaches dotted along the Wild Atlantic way.

Selling agent Colm Farrell said: “This property has to be viewed to appreciate both the dwelling and the stunning setting.”

 The asking price is €450,000. For further information or to arrange a viewing, contact Farrell Auctioneers on 091 632688.

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Country Living

Bemoaning loss of innocence in a sport driven by big bucks

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Brazil dazzled the world of football in 1970 with their mix of pace, grace and sheer footballing class.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not big into trying to resolve the huge issues of the world like wars, climate change or attempting to dethrone the obnoxious Elon Musks of this world, primarily on the basis that my influence would be akin to a moth trying to stop a herd of charging elephants.

And, I suppose at this stage, I have to accept that it’s far too late to try and call a halt to the World Cup proceedings in Qatar but for the life of me, the event doesn’t even send a sliver of enthusiasm through my nervous system.

Maybe, it’s an old-fashioned streak that’s there inside of me, but the thought of watching World Cup matches in the run-up to Christmas just doesn’t seem right. Okay, so it will be about 30°C in the heart of the Qatar desert but watching a World Cup semi-final in the middle of the Christmas office party is just a stretch too far for me.

Alas, World Cup memories go back a long way with me to a late Sunday in July 1966 when as a ‘small boy’ I was given the job of ‘minding’ the house while the ‘rest of them’ saved a small field of hay a couple of miles away from the house.

Of course, at the time there wasn’t even a faint chance of a black-and-white TV in the house, while visits to any abode that might have a telly, were strictly confined to a Sunday with the stipulation that Galway footballers had to be involved.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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