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Revamped FCA gets physical




Young men and women thinking of joining the Reserve Defence Force – now known as ‘Cúltaca’ – might do well to take it easy on the food and beverages during the festive season.

“Cúltaca”, which used to be known over the decades as the FCA (Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil) is now recruiting again but there is a line in the sand at the first hurdle; applicants will not be accepted if they have too much body fat on board.

But that’s not all.  Even if the body is lean and mean the applicant will then have to undergo a fitness test; it’s not in the French Foreign Legion category but it’s a reasonable examination of physical abilities.

The fitness test consists of twenty press-ups and twenty sit-ups in double quick time and a one and a half mile run inside eleven minutes.

It’s all a big step from the FCA as it used to be before it was morphed into the new body called Cúltaca which translates to “back-up” or “support”.

And the part time soldiers of the future will have to train regularly or they will be demobbed from the Reserve Defence Forces.

The first physical tests of the new Cúltaca regime in Galway have been held this year; over 160 applicants for membership went through their paces at the Army Barracks in Renmore last week.

While there is no precise figure on the physical failure rate this time, an Army spokesman said it is usually about 20%.

If an applicant fails the “physicals” he/she is given a further chance and it is understood that those who did not make the grade in Renmore last week will have another date with the examiners in January – if they want to continue their quest to get into the Army Reserve.

Sources in the Army who specialise in physical fitness say that measuring body mass (B.M.I.) may be problematic, at times.  There are standardised figures given for body mass based on a formula using height and body build; the top figure before going into the overweight category is BMI 24.

However, if that were strictly adhered to the bulk of the Irish rugby team would be termed overweight or obese.

Army fitness experts say that they sometime use calipers to measure body fat if a person has a very strong build; measurements are taken in the upper arms; the back and the midriff.  The weight may be solid body mass.

However, the fitness test is straight forward: twenty press-ups, twenty sit-ups and a mile and a half run inside eleven minutes.

The press-ups cannot be any particular version; they have to be done as required by the Army fitness team – no half measures.  The fitness test for both men and women is the same but that there is a modified press up for women.

It’s all far removed from the FCA of other generations when volunteers joined up at the local training centre – usually the local hall – and were measured for their uniform and the size of their boots.

In a less security orientated time, they were also given their guns to take with them; indeed some were known to have fired shots in between training sessions.

One particularly humorous account of life in the FCA is given in Tom Gilmore’s book about the singer, the late Larry Cunningham.

Before he became a celebrity on the stages of Ireland, Larry was in the FCA and he recounts the times he spent in uniform with his colleagues at that time.

That was when the FCA was colloquially baptized the “Free Clothes Association”; the pants, the boots and great coat were often seen on duty well away from Army venues on winter nights!

While there may have been lax times it should also be said that there were some excellent reserve soldiers and officers in the FCA.  But any lax times have vanished in the newly minted Cúltaca.

Applicants will now have to apply for membership online.  They will have to go through the fitness and body build tests – the same as the regular Army.  Those who get through the initial stages will then be interviewed and will undergo a medical test.

If accepted they will sign a three year service contract and will have to train fortnightly.

They will have some weekend training in Renmore – for Galway groups – and a week of full time intensive training once a year.  That week of intensive training is the only time they will be paid for.

That is the new FCA, which is now Cúltaca…and it’s no holiday.


Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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