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Psychiatric nurses work to rule at UHG

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Psychiatric nurses in University Hospital Galway (UHG) will begin industrial action in the form of a ‘work to rule’ from this week in a bid to get the Health Service Executive (HSE) back to the negotiating table over staffing and safety issues.

Nearly 90% of staff in the Galway West Mental Health Services voted in favour of industrial action at the acute psychiatric unit and their union, the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), served notice on the HSE that action will start on Tuesday.

The current unrest has been brewing since the beginning of the year but came to a head last month when 10 staff due to begin their early morning shift refused to clock in due to safety concerns. They pointed to the fact that there had been 36 assaults on staff since early January by patients with challenging conditions, some of whom require one-on-one care.

The impasse was temporarily resolved when management agreed to appoint extra staff in the interim and take part in talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

Those talks took place a week later between the union and the HSE but broke down after a threat was issued to discipline those nurses who did not work despite being rostered for duty, according to the PNA.

Following their withdrawal from the table, a ballot for industrial action was then issued.

Union spokesman Derek Cunningham said the work to rule means that nurses will do nothing above and beyond their rostered duties.

“It should not affect patients but it will definitely put pressure on the managers of the unit. We reserve the right to decide on how to escalate the action, right up to a full strike according to how the HSE react,” he stated.

“We are calling on the Minister, Kathleen Lynch, to intervene to try and avoid this and get the HSE to take action about the very serious problems affecting this unit.”

More permanent staff are desperately needed as well as an increase in community services to reduce the need for such high admissions to the unit.

Staff at the 45 bed acute psychiatric unit at UHG have been raising concerns over patient care following the closure of the acute unit at Ballinasloe. The decision by the psychiatric nurses is fully justified, insists Councillor Mairéad Farrell (SF).

“Not only have there have been 36 known assaults on staff at UHG this year, a mental health commission report identified serious issues with the facilities available in the acute psychiatric unit and a report on an inspection carried out in February has not been made available to staff despite several requests.

“The staffing and safety issues at the unit had reached levels so precarious that the nurses felt compelled to stage a walk-out.”

She pointed out that the Minister for Health made a commitment that there would be an additional 44 permanent staff allocated to the Mental Health Service in Galway as well as a new 50 bed acute unit in Galway, yet this has not been delivered.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work/live units form part of new Galway City affordable housing project

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Five ‘live/work’ units form part of the design of a new affordable and social housing development planned for Ballybane.

The mixed development unanimously approved by city councillors this week will provide 103 apartments and houses in the Coillte Mhuirlinne estate.

A total of 85 homes will be affordable, although the details of how much they will cost to purchase have yet to be decided. The remaining 20%, or 18 units, will be social housing. Some €4.6 million in Government funding has already been approved for the social housing aspect of the plan.

Included in the design of the housing development is a ‘live/work’ element.

The Council’s Acting Director of Services for Housing, Tom Prendergast, explained that the ground floor of the five live/work three-storey units would contain an office, retail or commercial unit for service providers with three-bedroom maisonettes over the next two floors.

“It would be envisioned that these five units would be small-scale businesses run by the occupants living above.

“There would be little passing trade for any commerciality of these units so we would envisage small local services similar to a hairdresser, accountant, physiotherapist would occupy these units as an extension of ‘working from home’,” the report to city councillors said.

Mr Prendergast said the concept was similar to people living over their shops in towns and city centres. A crèche will also be built close to the commercial units.

Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly, said she hoped lessons were learned from the previous commercial property development in Ballybane where units “were empty for 15 years” and some public bodies could not afford the rents.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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