Inside Track with John McIntyre
When the GAA outlined its fixtures calendar for 2021, it left us looking forward to the start of the National hurling and football leagues at the end of February. Instead, the playing fields remain empty with inter-county training yet to even resume and the GAA season already running behind schedule.
Worse again, there is no certainty about when matches will get the green light as despair and frustration among the GAA community reaches the lowest point since Covid-19 hit these shores last March. It’s not just hurlers and footballers who are feeling the strain as bar professional rugby nearly all sport remains off-limits.
Sure, the League of Ireland will soon be kicking off – and more luck to the teams involved – but everything else with the exception of horse and greyhound racing has been deemed too risky in the interests of public health. Sport has become a soft target as the evidence from last year indicates that the playing of games had little or no impact in the spreading of the virus.
Granted, the post county final celebrations were a different story, but there are many, many months to go before local championships reach a climax in 2021. In the interim, the Government and NPHET need to apply some common sense in adjudicating on releasing the vast majority of sports people from solitary confinement.
The mental anguish alone caused by not being able to link up with your team-mates and play the game you love is incalculable. It’s just compounding the gloom and agitation out there, and I’m not sure the various stakeholders are going to tolerateA it for much longer. Revolution is in the air, especially now that the rollout of vaccines is belatedly being reeved up.
Given the delay to the GAA season, it has reopened the debate about whether inter-county or club championships should go first. The decision had been made to put the elite hurlers and footballers on stage from February to July, with the clubs then swinging into action, but every week that passes is compromising this plan.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Two arrested following taxi hijacking in Galway
Gardaí have arrested two men following the hijacking of a taxi in Co Galway last night.
Shortly before midnight, Gardaí received a report that two men who were passengers in a taxi had attacked the driver and stole his vehicle.
The driver was ejected from the car on the M18 motorway.
Gardaí were alerted and observed the car in Claregalway.
A managed containment operation to ‘block in’ the taxi was put in place with assistance from the armed Regional Support Unit.
The car was brought to a stop on Bothar na dTreabh and two men fled on foot. The two men, one in his mid-20s and the other in his early-30s, were subsequently arrested.
They are currently detained at Garda HQ in Renmore under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
Man arrested after €90,000 drug seizure
Gardai have arrested a man after €90,000 worth of drugs were discovered in a bog near Ballinasloe.
As part of an ongoing surveillance operation, Gardai conducted a search in Poolboy Bog late yesterday afternoon.
They discovered €70,000 worth of cocaine, and a further €20,000 worth of cannabis along with other drug equipment.
A man in his 20s was arrested at the scene and taken to Ballinasloe Garda Station.
He’s since been charged and will appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday.
Waiting lists surge since pandemic
Waiting lists at Galway hospitals have rocketed since the onset of Covid-19, with fears that the situation will only worsen as doubts have been cast over the long-awaited new elective hospital at Merlin Park.
Figures released from the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which covers the cost of outsourcing public patients to private hospitals, show that since 2020, waiting lists locally have surged by almost 25%.
Galway City Councillor Níall McNelis said statistics obtained by the Labour Party showed the numbers waiting for inpatient and outpatient treatment were ever increasing, and little was being done to address the problem.
“Waiting lists have skyrocketed since the beginning of 2020 and have increased from 52,935 in January to 65,548 in March 2021, an increase of a whopping 23.8% in a little over a year.
“In every specialism, the numbers waiting at Galway University Hospitals are growing and growing month after month, with the number of people waiting for general surgery growing from 3,468 to 4,990 – a 43.9% increase; [the list for] cardiology treatment has grown from 2,406 to 3,231, a 34.3% increase in little over 14 months,” said the Labour Party councillor.
This sharp increase in waiting times came as Moycullen-based Senator Seán Kyne (FG) cast doubt over the mooted 200 in-patient beds and new elective hospital at Merlin Park – something that has long been presented as the solution to Galway’s health woes.
See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie