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Connacht Tribune

Same as it ever was as Brexit continues to hinge on backstop




Ongoing discussions... Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

World of Politics with Harry McGee –

There’s a very catchy song in the children’s film, Winnie the Pooh; the Backson is about a terrible monster that puts holes in your socks, sneaks into the library and steals your books and has also robbed Eeyore’s tail.   The animals became aware of this fearsome creature from a note Christopher Robin wrote to them and all go into a state of panic.

It is only on rereading it they realise he wasn’t warning them about the mythical Backson, rather telling them he would be ‘back soon’.

By now you should have spotted the obvious segue to the theme of this week’s column, the Backstop. I’m not saying that the Backstop is mythical, but it’s certainly true that myths have grown up around it.

We have clung to it like a life raft since it was first included in the text of the agreement in December 2016. Essentially, it means that in the event of no agreement being reached between the UK and the EU, the “invisible” border between the North and South will be guaranteed.

It’s been our insurance policy, our buffer, the money we have stuffed under the mattress.

But is it safe as houses? Hardly.

In fairness, the language coming from the other EU 26 since the start of this tedious process has wholeheartedly supported Ireland.

I was in Government Buildings when Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, said that Ireland’s position was Europe’s position.

All the others, including Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, have said the same.

There is no reason to doubt their sincerity but a 100 per cent hold out on the backstop into eternity would require an awful lot of pieces to fall in place.

There are two parts to the negotiations. There’s the single market. The British like some parts of it, particularly around free movements of goods. They don’t like other parts such as the free movement of people.

Immigration was perhaps the main reason that people in Britain voted for Brexit. The UK wants to control its immigration.

But that is incompatible with membership of the single market. The EU has told Britain it can’t pick and choose so it’s either in for everything (including free movement of people) or out.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara



Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara



Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell



Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from

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