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Connacht Tribune

HSE staffing crisis sees home help money lying idle

Enda Cunningham



Galway families caring for loved ones and desperate to avail of the HSE’s home help service have been told that while the money is there, the staff are not.

In fact, for the ‘CHO 2’ (Community Healthcare Organisation) area which covers Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, there were 45,000 unused home care hours in the first three months of this year which had been paid for by the HSE, but no staff were available to carry out the hours.

At the moment, one in every four people in the country waiting for home help are in the CHO 2 area.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Jim Daly, said there are “capacity issues” and repeated his assertion that the current system is not fit for purpose.

He was told by Roscommon-Galway TD Eugene Murphy that he has had at least twelve families into his constituency office in tears because they have been unable to get home help.

“What is going on in the CHO 2 area with home care is shocking and appalling. I do not believe it is a staff issue,” said Deputy Murphy.

Minister Daly said there were ‘capacity issues’ relating to staff in the area.

“The overall budget for home support services for people living in the CHO 2 catchment area increased in 2017 and 2018 and is now just over €43 million. This funding will deliver more than 1.9 million home support hours.

“During the first three months of this year, 430,832 hours were delivered against a target of 475,893 hours, which is 45,000 hours below target.

“Some parts of the country, including CHO 2, are experiencing capacity issues relating to the availability of home care staff.

“I have been advised by the HSE that CHO 2 is working towards increasing capacity and is committed to providing its targeted hours by year end. With that in mind, CHO 2 is increasing its monthly spend on home support services to ensure delivery of full year service plan targets.

“I can assure the Deputy that there are not enough resources but the particular issue he is experiencing in his area is a capacity issue involving staff availability. It is the same in my area of west Cork, as I mentioned. There are 45,000 hours which have been paid for but not used in CHO 2, which is a management issue for the HSE to address. It has assured me that it will up the ante in that regard and spend every euro it has been given on home help by year end.

At the end of March, of the 6,458 older people waiting for home support nationwide, 1,482 were in the CHO 2 area.

Minister Daly told the Dáil: “I have stood over my commitment to bring about the scheme for home care to mirror the fair deal scheme and ensure people will be guaranteed access to the home care they require under statute, in a similar manner to the fair deal scheme, which we developed and which has grown and been committed to.

“Nobody has to wait for more four weeks under the commitments in the fair deal scheme. It is guaranteed by statute that everybody who wants to avail of it will get it and will not have to wait any more than four weeks.

“I want a similar scheme to be established to allow people to continue to live in their homes. I have put a timeline of two to three years on that and we are about nine or ten months into the process. It will take another two years to bring about the scheme and ensure it is delivered by statute and properly funded.

“The issues include the availability of staff to fill posts and their terms and conditions.

“I have said on the record that the current system is not fit for purpose and that is why I want to design a properly funded, equitable, fair, transparent and efficient service for home help,” said Minister Daly.

The home help service provides support to people who need assistance with everyday tasks because of illness or disability. The service is aimed at helping people in their own home and to avoid going in to long-term care.

Home helps provide assistance with washing, taking a shower, assistance with changing position, oral hygiene, or help at mealtimes. Domestic duties include lighting a fire or bringing in fuel if there is no alternative heating source, or essential cleaning of the person’s personal space.

Connacht Tribune

Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions

Enda Cunningham



The Taoiseach announced this evening that the country will move to Level 3 restrictions from next week, with shops, gyms, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and gastro-pubs set to reopen.

“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months. I understand that feeling. Very often I share it,” Micheál Martin said in an address to the nation.

“This cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to but it will be a very special time where we all enjoy some respite,” he said, as he announced the planned move to “Level 3, with some modifications”.

The use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

From 1 December, under Level 3, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19:

  • weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • no organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below
  • gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors
  • non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15
  • only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted
  • no matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only
  • nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed
  • hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only
  • non-essential retail and personal services may reopen
  • people should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person
  • public transport capacity is limited to 50%

From 1 December:

  • households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble
  • people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes

From 4 December:

  • restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels
  • higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online

Adjustments for the Christmas Period

From 1 December:

  • places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
  • museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
  • cinemas to reopen
  • wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery

From 18 December to 6 January:

  • households can mix with up to two other households
  • travel outside your county to be permitted

From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

The measures for cross-border travel will be the same as for travel between all other counties, that is, from 1 December, people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes while from 18 December to 6 January, travel outside the county is permitted.

It has further been agreed that the use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

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Connacht Tribune

Curran, Melody and Molloy all leave Utd as Caulfield confirms two new signings

Keith Kelly



Enda Curran, pictured after scoring a goal for Galway United against Wexford in the season just finished, has left the club. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The comings and goings have continued at Galway United in the past week, with the club busy re-signing players fork last season, adding some new faces, as well as confirming the departure of players who were part of the 2020 squad.

Having already said goodbye to the sextet of Conor Barry, Joe Collins, Vinny Faherty, Jack Lynch, Timo Partheons, and Josh Smith, the club this week confirmed the departure of three more players: Enda Curran (89 appearances, 20 goals), Conor Melody (108 appearances, five goals), and Timmy Molloy (16 appearances, no goals).

Curran was signed for United as an 18-years-old by Sean Connor ahead of the 2011 season and made his debut in the opening game of that campaign, coming on as a substitute for the injured Neal Keane in the 43rd of a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.

He made a total of 13 appearances for United that season, and he was back with the Tribesmen for United’s return to the national league in the 2014 season, when he made eight appearances, scoring his first goal for United in the first of those games, coming off the bench to score in the 5-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers B in July.

His most productive season for United was the following year’s campaign, when he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in the Premier Division for United (he made 29 league and cup appearance in total that season), including his one and only hat-trick for the club, coming in the 5-0 win away to Bray Wanderers in April.

The following month, he had the distinction of scoring two penalties in a single game, in the 5-3 win over Bohemians.

That haul of a dozen goals saw him finish as the club’s joint top-scorer in the league that season alongside Jake Keegan, though the US striker finished as overall top scorer on 16 goals thanks to 2 goals in the FAI Cup, and two in the League Cup.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly



US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at

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