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Connacht Tribune

Over-subscribed new school forced to turn students away

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It is not so long ago that the Board of Management at the new secondary school in Claregalway were canvassing the local primary schools and encouraging them to send their pupils to the new facility.

Such is the success of Colaiste Bhaile Chlair that they have now reached saturation point, leaving them with no choice but to implement an acceptance criteria and turning pupils away.

And this has resulted in some students in the area having to opt for other secondary schools with no guarantee of bus transport from the Department of Education. It has left some families with a major headache.

It has now resulted in calls for another secondary school to be established in the area with a suggestion that it be located in Corrandulla so that it can accommodate students from the wider Annaghdown area.

According to local Cllr James Charity it has emerged that as many as 29 sixth class pupils within the catchment area for Colaiste Bhaile Chlair have been refused entry for the coming September as the school is over subscribed.

“This is the fourth year in a row that the problem has arisen and has led to calls to examine the establishment of a secondary school in Corrandulla,” the independent councilor has said.

Cllr Charity said a number of students refused entry to Colaiste Bhaile Chlair will have appeals heard by the school’s Board of Management.

They have been told that once there have been in excess of 180 applications from the school’s catchment area, it applies a distance criteria in its admissions policy which means children furthest away from the school, despite being in the catchment, are the ones who lose out.

“Invariably, this means students from areas like Annaghdown, Corrandulla, Corbally and Corofin are those affected every year and who are now left in limbo again.

“To make matters worse, if they now choose to attend another post primary school which is in fact further away, they have no automatic entitlement to school bus transport from the Department. As a result, families and students from these areas are being doubly penalised.

“Parents of children in the locality feel justifiably aggrieved because when the development of Colaiste Bhaile Chlair was bring mooted, both they and the local primary schools in the area were approached to support the development based on the fact it would benefit their children.

“Now they are being told that they can’t access the school because of where they live. I think it is now well past time that consideration is seriously given to providing a secondary school in Corrandulla.

“It is well known that the Department are looking at locations in the county for an Educate Together Secondary School and I would urge them to look into Corrandulla,” Cllr Charity added.

He said that with four local primary schools, one of which is one of the largest in County Galway, the geographical proximity of the area to the Educate Together primary school in Claregalway, and the large growing population of the hinterland, the time is now right to provide a new secondary school in the area.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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