Lifestyle – Dearbhla Geraghty talks to the people behind Galway Parkinson’s Association which provides assistance to 200 families
The diagnosis of any life-altering disease can be devastating for the most resilient of us, but through the voluntary work of the Galway Parkinson’s Association, the path for patient and family has utterly changed for the better.
It is certainly all-heart that drives the charity’s current chairperson and secretary, Marie Cahill and Caroline Rushe. Both saw a parent suffer with this disease in a time when the public services were insufficient, and knowledge and support were in short supply.
Now, it is not over the top to say that these two women dedicate their lives to improving the lot for others – years after the death of their own loved ones.
“When he was diagnosed, and said ‘I have Parkinson’s’, none of us knew what it was… we hadn’t a clue,” Caroline recalls the early days of her father’s journey with the disease, which began in the early 1990s.
Subsequently, Vincent Rushe, was one of about six men brought together by social worker, Maggie King, to form a support group in the city.
It eventually expanded to become what is now the Galway Parkinson’s Association, but it may have been the arrival of Paddy Browne, a nurse specialist from Monivea, that started the charity on its current path.
“Ann O’Connell was our chairperson in the early 2000s, and was really trying to develop things, she could see the bigger picture, and was very progressive,” Caroline says.
“Paddy came to one of our meetings, and he said that he was going to the UK to get trained as a Parkinson’s Disease nurse. I was in awe of him, and we gave him a couple of hundred Euro towards his training.
“He really gelled the whole Parkinson’s thing – all of a sudden we were something, and people were beginning to recognise us more.”
It was in the charity’s early days that Marie Cahill came looking for help when her mother, Kitty, was diagnosed at just 52 years of age.
“It was a whole new experience, and we didn’t know what was going to happen – we didn’t know anything,” she recalls.
“I wasn’t even in my 30s, and my Mum had very progressive Parkinson’s, she needed 24-hour care, and couldn’t communicate or walk.
“At the first meeting I went to, I was thinking ‘what am I doing?’ but I found support in that I could relay some of what was happening at home and ask questions – they became my other family.”
The charity, which receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations and fundraising to meet its annual costs of around €50,000, could only go so far, however – dealing with the public service would be its biggest challenge yet.
For a start, Paddy Browne was only employed as a specialist nurse on a temporary basis by the HSE.
“We had to make sure he was in full time employment – he was the link between the consultant and patient – so we spoke to Noel Grealish TD, who organised a meeting with Mary Harney (Minister for Health),” says Marie.
“I assumed that I was only going as support, and that Dr Tim Counihan (consultant) would be meeting with the Minister, but I was allowed in and to give my input.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site
An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.
The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.
It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.
In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.
“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.
A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.
A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.
It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.
Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.
The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.
NUIG student accommodation firm records loss
The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.
However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.
Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.
The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.
Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.
The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.
Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.
Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.
The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).
The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.
It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.
As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.
It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.
In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.
Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.
Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.
To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.
He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.
In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.
And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.
“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.