All of the slipways at piers in Connemara should be treated with a chemical to make them safer – to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that occurred in Buncrana in March.
Galway County Council has given an undertaking to consider a programme of works at the slipways but said that it was a budgetary matter.
But Cllr Noel Thomas from Moycullen that there is a chemical available, which is environmentally acceptable, that will clear the slipways of the presence of algae for a nominal cost.
Cllr Thomas said that the growth of algae on these slipways make them “like glass” and that there is a chemical that is used in piers in Britain which resolves this problem.
And he said that there are young people who drive down slipways in Connemara late at night and they are taking their lives in their hands.
Director of Services Liam Gavin said that they were taking the issue of safety at piers very seriously and that some work had commenced last year.
Several councillors in Connemara, in particular, have now raised the issue of the safety on slipways in the wake of the tragedy in Donegal in which five people lost their lives when their vehicle ended up in the sea.
Last week, Galway Harbour Company blocked access to a slipway at Galway Docks and are considering erecting barriers in view of the amount of young people who have lost their lives in the city in recent months.
Connemara area Cllr Noel Thomas says the spray needed to rid slipways of a dangerous, slippery weed build-up is inexpensive and could save lives.
He’s calling on the council to carry out the required works at the many slipways across the county to prevent accidents over the summer period.
The proposal will be discussed at Strategic Policy Committee level before coming back before the full council for consideration.
“There is a chemical that can be purchased for around €150 a drum that can clear 3,000 square metres of algae and that would certainly do a lot of piers in the area.
“We are coming into the summer months when there are a lot of tourists around and the last thing we need is another Buncrana-type accident occurring when it can be prevented,” Cllr Thomas added.
Cllr Joe Folan said that he agreed with the suggestion of Cllr Thomas and would not agree with barriers being installed at piers as it would affect local fishermen and those bringing in seaweed.
The South Connemara councillor said that it would be both costly and disruptive for the local fishing industry when there was a solution available that would make the piers much safer for a fraction of the cost.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
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.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
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.
Galway Simon reflects on impact of ‘a year like no other’
Despite concerns that homeless people would die in the pandemic as had happened in other urban centres, Galway Simon managed to ensure there was no outbreak among clients and staff last year – even with an 85 per cent decrease in volunteers.
A year like no other was how CEO Karen Golden summed up 2020 at the launch of their annual report this week.
“How can you follow public health advice to stay at home, when you have no home?” she asked those who logged on for the virtual launch.
The charity helped 646 households in the first year of the lockdown, made up of 192 families with 464 children across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – similar to numbers in 2019.
Within days of the lockdown, the organisation had appointed a rapid emergency response team to work out how best to protect clients, staff and volunteers. They created spaces for clients who had to cocoon and self-isolate and for all to socially distance, something that was very hard to manage in communal emergency accommodation.
They used baby monitors to oversee some clients so that staff wouldn’t have to put themselves at risk by entering enclosed spaces.
“We found that, with the pressures of the pandemic, some people’s support needs became more complex. But the response across our entire community was extraordinary, as our staff and volunteers worked extremely hard to protect both the physical and mental wellbeing of our clients,” she told the Connacht Tribune.
“We worked very closely with our colleagues in other agencies, including the HSE and Galway City Council, to ensure a comprehensive response to the pandemic for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the west.
“While some major cities across the world saw significant outbreaks of Covid among their homeless populations, thanks to the enormous team effort across our community we had no outbreak within Galway Simon services.”
One client contracted Covid, and one staff member tested positive but there was no cross-transmission within the services.
“Our frontline staff continued to support our clients every single day throughout the pandemic. For some of our clients, the only person they saw during the lockdowns was their Galway Simon keyworker.”
Staff undertook food shopping and dropped off hampers for those experiencing food poverty and brought people to medical appointments. They helped some with addiction issues to attend AA meetings to continue with sobriety.
With their two charity shops shut, fundraising had to be reimagined in 56 virtual events, raising €1.17 million, down €100,000 on the year before. That year the Galway Simon Community benefited from the work of 450 volunteers – their number dropped to 66 people due to the restrictions and concerns about safety.
Offers from members of the public to volunteer had to be turned down.
This second year of Covid-19 restrictions has already seen a significant rise in demand for services. From January to August, Galway Simon have supported 669 households, a 28% increase compared to the same period last year. The biggest increase has been across their Homelessness Prevention Services which has had a 32% increase.
“We are very concerned about the winter months ahead. With the lifting of the moratorium on evictions and other supports, and the homelessness crisis and Covid very much still with us, we anticipate that the numbers coming to us for help will continue to increase.”