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Connacht Tribune

RnaG axes long-running sports programme

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The longest-running and most popular Irish language sports radio programme in the country was broadcast for the last time officially last Sunday.

Spórt an Domhnaigh (Sunday Sport), a weekly sports round-up programme, is being axed by RTÉ Radió na Gaeltachta (RnaG) after 46 years on air.

The programme first hit the airwaves about a fortnight after the Irish language radio station opened its doors in Casla in the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1972.

Before the advent of local radio stations, social media and mobile phones, it was always first with the results of matches throughout the Gaeltacht areas in particular but also national and international. The show gave a comprehensive round-up of the weekend’s results, as well as match reports, analysis and sometimes interviews with players and managers.

Given the ethos of RnaG, it was focused on GAA, in particular, and Gaeltacht teams but covered all sports.

It gave as much prominence to underage sports, and junior and intermediate results as it did to adult, senior and professional sports.

Its bread and butter was catering for clubs such as Na Piarsaigh, a junior football club in Ros Muc, where listenership was strongest; but it also appealed to sports enthusiasts with limited Irish as a one-stop shop for a full run-down of the day’s results.

RTÉ RnaG did not respond to queries but it is understood dropping Spórt an Domhnaigh is part of wider schedule restructuring being implemented by the national broadcaster; and an attempt to cut back on its extensive weekend sports coverage.

The station introduced schedule changes back in April due to a “lack of resources”. Those changes came after seven staff members confirmed they were taking voluntary redundancies and would not be replaced. At the time, management said they would review the schedules again later in the year, and Sport an Domhnaigh was last week confirmed as one of the casualties.

Industry sources are baffled by the axing of the programme, as it cost very little, if anything, to produce, because it was a round-up programme of matches that had already been covered – and paid-for – earlier in the day.

Secretary of the Irish National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Seamus Dooley, was in Galway last week meeting with members who are affected by the changes at the station.

Speaking to Tuairisc.ie, who broke the story, former sports editor with RnaG Mártan Ó Ciardha said he was “upset and perturbed” that it is being axed.

He said it is the type of programming that has been at the heartbeat of the service RnaG was asked to provide when the station was set up.

“Since its inception Spórt an Domhnaigh has provided a service that crossed all sports and more importantly all levels of sport – underage, junior, intermediate and the top levels at club and county level in Gaeltacht areas. How will those listeners access that information now?” said Mr Ó Ciardha.

He said he was not prepared to comment further until the reasons for the axing are clarified.

A former employee of RTÉ, Jim Carney, the first presenter of The Sunday Game, in 1979, a GAA commentator, and former sports editor of Tuam Herald, said he is “sad” and “angry” about this. He described it as a “bad decision” and a “mistake”.

“That programme was essential listening for me while driving back to Galway from games all over Ireland. I would’ve seen one game that day but Spórt an Domhnaigh gave me the news of the day, especially club results – an-tabhachtach! (very important) – while driving home. There were thousands like me,” he recalled.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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