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Services saved as volunteer centre escapes cuts

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The Galway Volunteer Centre has won a reprieve and will not have cuts to its budget imposed this year, it has been confirmed.

The centre, at William Street West in the city, had feared it was in line for funding cuts – and even warned that jobs may be at risk.

But following a successful lobbying campaign, the volunteer centre has been awarded the same funding in 2015 as it received last year.

The grant of about €120,000 will allow the group to continue to assist up to 10,000 volunteers and around 500 organisations in the city and county.

“We have just been informed by the Department of the Environment in relation to our funding allocation for 2015.  We are delighted to find out officially that we will receive no cutback in 2015.

“This is particularly satisfying as we were told before Christmas to expect a decrease in our funding,” said Donncha Foley, the centre’s development manager in a letter to local politicians this week.

He had previously written to Galway City and County councillors urging them to lobby Environment Minister Alan Kelly. Mr Foley outlined in January that the centre had had no official communication from the department in relation to its level of funding for the coming year although the indications were that they faced a cut.

He also outlined that due to staffing difficulties within the department, “no funding, not even an advance to pay wages in January, can be issued to us.”

Welcoming the announcement that Galway Volunteer Centre is to be fully funded this year at 2014 levels, Labour Party city councillor Niall McNelis said: “I welcome that funding for the Galway Volunteer Centre has not been cut, especially as it was informed it was under threat before Christmas.

“I lobbied hard with both the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Social Protection. I explained how important the centre was in Galway and the difference it makes in the community.

“The funding of approximately €117,000 will assist with the 10,000 volunteers and the 500 organisations registered in the city and county.”

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run

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A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda

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Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway

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Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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