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CITY TRIBUNE

Public Accounts Committee’s concerns over Galway 2020

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Serious concerns about governance structures in Galway 2020 have been highlighted at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

And fears over the European Capital of Culture project achieving value-for-money for the State’s multi-million euro investment, was also raised at a hearing of Dáil Éireann’s spending watchdog.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht is the biggest funder of Galway 2020, and has agreed to stump-up €15 million for the year-long event.

Department officials told the PAC they will draw on the experience of what was learned during the Pálás Cinema project, which was delayed and ran over budget. They said they were working to ensure, “robust project management structures are put in place for the European Capital of Culture Galway 2020 project”.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly was not convinced, however.

“I have serious concerns about the robust governance structures but, importantly, many people on the ground have serious concerns also. I welcome that the Department is saying this, but what robust governance structures are already in place for the money paid out?”

Deputy Connolly pointed out that a substantial amount of the €15 million has already been allocated.

Subsequent to Galway 2020 CEO Hannah Kiely resigning last month, Deputy Connolly said she received an invitation to an event that was signed by the CEO’s assistant. Its website also still listed Ms Kiely as Galway 2020 CEO, she said.

“One might say these are minor details but they reflect the situation. It sends the wrong message if the website still lists her and letters are being issued on her behalf by her personal assistant inviting people to an event in spite of her having left her post over two weeks ago,” said Deputy Connolly.

The Independent TD also highlighted the issue of a lack of an Irish officer in Galway 2020; but spending oversight was her main concern.

“In the context of value for money, what robust structures are in place to safeguard the spending of the €15 million being allocated by a Department? What will be delivered for that money? What service level agreement is in place? A performance level agreement is now under discussion. At what stage is that process?”

PAC chairman, Deputy Sean Fleming, pointed out that the Department’s official who is a board member of Galway 2020 has a “fiduciary duty” to the company and cannot discuss the matter with the PAC outside a board meeting.

Deputy Connolly said the issue of a member of the Department sitting on the board was “very important in terms of robust governance”

She added: “What is his or her role and should he or she be on the board? Should there be a hands-off approach involving the situation being properly monitored with proper accountability?

“I raise these issues because I am seriously concerned. I do not need to say that I am a proud Galwegian. I am proud that Galway is to be the European Capital of Culture but I am not proud of the absence of robust governance structures at every level.”

Deputy Fleming said the PAC would write to the Department outlining the concerns.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway

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Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Matriarch of Scotty’s Diner donates kidney to her son!

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A well-known family in the Galway restaurant trade have swapped chef whites for hospital gowns after the matriarch donated a kidney to her son.

Jenny and Andrew Ishmael, synonymous with Scotty’s Diner in Cúirt na Coiribe on the Headford Road in Terryland, are recovering in Beaumont Hospital after the marathon live donor operation.

It took place last Monday and staff are so impressed by the quick recovery of mother and son that they could be discharged as early as this weekend.

“It went really well. I’m still a bit sore. We’re still on the mend. It’s working perfectly,” says Andrew from the isolation ward of the hospital’s Kidney Centre.  “My creatine was over 1,000 when I came in and it’s already around 260.

“I felt weak after the surgery, but I could feel that bit of life in me again straight away. It’s amazing how quick it works. Mom wasn’t too great after the surgery – it was her first ever. She was quite sore, a bit iffy, but she’s good now.

“We have rooms back-to-back. We’ve been going for walks, going for breakfast together. It’s nice to spend that time together.”

Andrew – or Drew as he’s known to family and friends –  was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was just 16.

Berger’s Disease occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin builds up in the kidneys and results in inflammation, which over time, can hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.

He managed the condition well for over a decade without too much impact on his life.

The son of classically trained chefs who studied together at Johnson and Wales College in Rhode Island, he grew up working in his parents’ American-style diner, trading since 1991.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

New River Corrib rescue boat to be deployed following ‘significant donation’

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The provision of a specialist rescue craft on the Corrib – upstream from the Weir – could now happen over the coming weeks or months following a ‘significant voluntary donation’ in the past few weeks, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

Water safety issues on the Corrib were highlighted last month when up to 10 rowers had to be rescued after their two boats were sucked in by the currents towards the Weir.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the potentially catastrophic incident which occurred around midday on Saturday, January 14.

A specialist D Class lifeboat is now being sourced as part of a multi-agency approach to try and improve emergency rescue operations upstream from the Weir which would be accessible on a 24/7 basis.

While the cost would be in the region of €40,000 to €50,000, the overall figure would rise to around €80,000 to €90,000 when specialist personnel training costs were included.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune that he was aware of a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and get the Corrib rescue craft in place as soon as possible.

“I suppose we’re all trying to work together to ensure that a full-time rescue craft is provided on the Corrib and I believe that real progress is being made in this regard. This would be very good news for everyone,” said Mr Swan.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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