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State bodies challenge sea lice findings as Aran salmon farm row simmers

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The ongoing row over plans for a massive salmon farm off the Aran Islands was blown wide open this week after research carried out by the Marine Institute on the role of sea lice in salmon populations was attacked by both An Taisce and the state-run Inland Fisheries.

nThe Oranmore-based Institute’s findings showed little evidence of sea lice spread by fish farms compromising salmon populations.

But Inland Fisheries Ireland pointed to what it claimed were three fundamental errors in the Marine Institute’s report, whch it said had compromised its end result and was at odds with a newly-released paper from the University of Toronto’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The IFI claim data differences from year to year were not treated appropriately, averages regarding the survival of fish were used incorrectly and that the study contains grave mistakes in measuring control and treatment groups, leading to wide inaccuracies.

The Marine Institute claim that lice cause only one per cent mortality in Atlantic salmon compared to two thirds as suggested by the University of Toronto.

An Táisce and Friends of the Environment have also questioned the validity of the Institute’s study and both organisations believe the development of a large scale salmon farm off the Aran Islands would lead to an infestation of sea lice that could decimate the wild salmon stock.

A statement from An Taisce says it is disappointed that serious questions had been raised about the Institute’s published research.

“The revelations about its research can only strengthen the argument that the Marine Institute is propping up Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) controversial plans for these vast and intensive fish farms off the coast.

“Sea lice have proven difficult to control on farms, especially large farms, because it is difficult to treat all fish simultaneously. Such fish farms are linked to mass fatal infestations of wild salmon and trout in countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Canada. With the Marine Institute study now shown to be essentially a wrong-headed attempt to mask the risks posed by sea lice – harboured in great numbers within such farms – it now needs to be withdrawn in full.”

The IFI too feel the research paper should be withdrawn as it was used to form the basis of an Environmental Impact Study submitted in support of the proposed Galway Bay Fish Farm being developed by BIM.

For more on this story, see the current edition of the Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!

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Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison

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A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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