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Connacht Tribune

Social distancing must be shelved when coronavirus is under control

John McIntyre

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FLASHBACK: The Portumna Community School senior hurling team which lost to St Raphael's College, Loughrea in the Connacht Colleges Senior A final of 2004. Back row, from left: Gerard Lyons, Darren Broderick, Paraic Shiel, Shane Duane, John O'Flaherty, Ronan O'Brien, Andrew Keary, and Keith Kilkenny. Front row: Micheal Dervan, Shane Finnerty, Aidan Duggan, Colm Larkin (Captain), Eamon Duane, Frank Treacy, and Joe Canning.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

A climate of fear has permeated the country. People are afraid to step out of line as common sense, rational and reason are becoming increasingly compromised in the battle to bring Covid-19 under control.

So far, the Government and various strands of our health system have largely played a blinder in tackling the coronavirus. Hundreds of lives have been saved and compared to the ongoing mixed messages emanating from the UK and the USA, Ireland has adopted a clear roadmap to bring us back to some sort of normality.

But in flattening the curve of Covid-19, we are now risking flattening the country. Few will disagree that we need another few weeks of restrictions to deal with this health emergency, but what happens then? If there are no daily fatalities and new infections are down to a handful or better, why would we still persist with social distancing?

I am coming at this from a sports perspective and the impact on contact codes, but there is a bigger picture. As it stands, many businesses will not be re-opening as a consequence of Covid-19 and those that have (and will) must invest thousands of euro in bringing their premises into line with new safety regulations.

And after all that, their footfall or customers will be about one sixth of the pre-coronavirus days. How many restaurants and cafes, for instance, are going to survive in that environment. Thousands of jobs will be lost permanently and the Government wage subsidy scheme won’t be lasting forever.

I don’t want to trot out the lazy line that the lockdown is worse than the disease, but there is a balancing act to be struck and saving the economy must be the priority once Covid-19 no longer stalks the country. Already, it appears that the community transmissions of the virus are miniscule, with infections now largely confined to residential care facilities and meat factories.

The danger is that the Government and their medical advisers will completely error on the side of the caution to avoid a second wave of the virus. How do we know we will even get one if we are not prepared to take some risks? For all I know, we could get three or four waves, but scientific conjecture is no substitute for reality.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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