Schools in Galway are facing the perfect storm of a financial crisis as cash-strapped parents baulk at paying so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ – as State funding also dries up.
Many primary and secondary schools throughout the city and county are putting pressure on parents to pay voluntary contributions – they issue reminder letters directly to parents and in some cases via the children.
The ‘emotional blackmail’ to pay the contribution comes despite warnings from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn that schools can only seek a voluntary contribution once it is made absolutely clear that it is voluntary.
A survey on behalf of ASTI, the teaching union, found that one in four schools planned to increase the amount of money they seek from parents for the voluntary contribution at the beginning of this term.
The survey found that voluntary contributions were hiked in 14% of cases, as schools grapple with reduced funding from the Department of Education – capitation grants per students have reduced from €200 per child to €176 over the past few years.
The reduction in central funding has forced schools to increase the voluntary contribution but as parents struggle to pay the voluntary contribution, schools have to increase other fundraising activities such as cake sales and table quizzes.
Children’s charity Barnardos has called for voluntary contributions to be scrapped. “The time has come to outlaw voluntary contributions entirely because they are intimidating too many parents who are under more than enough pressure already,” said Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay.
The charity’s comprehensive survey on school costs revealed that voluntary contributions averaged €100 for senior infants, €50 for primary school fourth class pupils and €125 for first year secondary school pupils. The total cost to parents of sending a child to school averaged at €350, €400 and €785 for senior infants, fourth class and first years respectively, the survey found.
For full story see this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.
It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.
General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.
She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.
Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.
Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.
Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.
She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.
Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!
Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.
Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.
Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.
The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.
Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.
Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.
“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune
Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison
A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.
Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.
The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.
A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.
At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.
They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.
Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.
The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.