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Volunteers sought for Big Brother Big Sister campaign

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Ireland’s leading youth organisation, Foróige, is calling on people in Galway to volunteer to become a big brother or big sister in the recently-launched ‘BigBrother BigSister’ campaign by giving up just two hours of their time per week.

Volunteers will hang out with and provide positive support to a teenager who has signed up to the programme. The whole campaign is centred on the idea that “you can’t change the world, but you can change someone’s world”.

The campaign is affiliated to the BBBS international programme and aims to support young people from age 10 to 18 by pairing them up with someone who would take on the role of a big brother or sister offering mentoring, guidance and friendship.

This particular campaign was launched in June of this year by Glenda Gilson and comedian Andrew Stanley. Foróige itself has been helping young people since 1952.

Volunteers who take part in the campaign will aim to help their little brother or sister with a variety of adolescent issues, offering advice and helping them manoeuvre through their teenage years.

“The programme helps steer young people away from the wrong path and point them in the right direction,” said Foróige’s Head of Marketing Aidan Haughey.

“The little brothers and little sisters are matched up with someone who shares their same interests and acts like a big brother or big sister, giving them advice, hanging out with them, taking them to games and generally giving them someone to look up to and turn to whenever they need it.

“Foróige also provide learning opportunities which enable youths to gain knowledge and develop new skills.”

Volunteers can sign up via the Foróige website at www.foroige.ie/BBBS and will go through a vetting process before being trained and matched up with a suitable little brother or sister.

“The volunteer will be facilitated to establish a supportive relationship with the young person, aimed at assisting them in their development, and will receive ongoing support from a staff member for the duration of their involvement,” said Mr Haughey.

“Volunteers then are asked to give on average just two hours per week to spend time with their little brother or sister.”

While the benefits for the little brother and sister are obvious, the volunteers who become big brothers and sisters will also benefit from the campaign.

“The volunteers very often gain a lifelong friend as well as helping to change someone’s life. It is ideal for those who want to help people or do something worthwhile without having to dedicate much of their spare time,” said Mr Haughey.

“The time given by volunteers is, on average, just two hours per week and can often be as simple as catching a movie or playing a game of pool. Volunteers can help build someone’s self-esteem and confidence and share their own experiences of growing up to mentor someone along the way.”

To get involved, contact Foróige at volunteer@foroige.ie or complete a form online. Clubs are supported by Regional Youth Officers and the Galway regional office is located in the Westside Community Resource Centre. Alternatively, you can call the Foróige Head Office at (01) 6301560.

■ More information on Foróige can be found at www.foroige.ie.

Connacht Tribune

State to look at plan to protect historic monastic ruins

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Officials from the Office of Public Works have confirmed that they will visit what is widely regarded as the most complete Franciscan monastic ruins in Ireland to see what works are required to save it.

And a local public representative has said that he does not want to be part of a generation that allowed Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary to fall into worse disrepair.

Correspondence sent this week to those who diligently look after the friary has suggested that the OPW’s Head of Historic Properties will come down to establish what emergency works are required.

This follows the recent visit by the Minister for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan to Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary which dates well back before the 1400s and requires urgent works to be carried out.

Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG) said: “It would be an absolute disgrace if we were the generation that allowed this friary to deteriorate even further.”

It was explained to the Minister while visiting the Abbey that it is in desperate need of emergency works and it was essential that the Minister brought this back to his department.

He was informed that it was around the late 1980s when there was any major works carried out on the abbey by the OPW.

“The abbey needs remedial work urgently as it is falling into disrepair and the main area of concern is the tower.

“There has never been any serious remedial work done on the tower and there has never been scaffolding put up around the outside of it to deal with the exterior of the tower,” Cllr Reddington told The Connacht Tribune.

A local group who met with the Minister explained that there is no electricity at the abbey or any toilet facilities for visiting tourists.

He was informed that the nearest electrical pole is only 200m away, so it wouldn’t be difficult to get electricity to the abbey.

The abbey, he was told, needs electricity which would then mean there would be options in terms of security lighting and closed-circuit television to prevent any vandalism taking place.

Those who look after the Franciscan Friary – including Glen Corbett and former Galway footballer Seamus McHugh – gave a detailed run down of emergency works that need to happen at the abbey.

They said that it was critical that emergency works start as soon as possible to protect the abbey for future generations.

The Minister committed to working with the group on this. The delegation than joined OPW officials and Finna Construction who gave them a tour of the OPW offices in Headford which benefited from a €5 million investment.

This week came the commitment that the OPW would visit the friary to establish the emergency works that need to prioritisation.

(Photo:  Seamus McHugh, Minister Patrick O’Donovan, Glen Corbett and Cllr Andrew Reddington at Ross Errilly Franciscian Friary in Headford)

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí issue alert over fuel thefts

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Householders, farmers and truckers in the West of Ireland have been advised to put security measures in place to protect their fuel tanks, following a number of thefts over the past month.

While the thefts aren’t an everyday occurrence, Gardaí have advised that with fuel prices likely to remain high over the coming months, basic security precautions should be put in place.

Galway is one of a number of counties where fuel thefts have occurred over recent weeks with home heating oil, trucks and farm diesel in different parts of the country targeted by the thieves.

Sergeant Michael Walsh, Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, said that while the number of thefts reported in Galway had been quite small, fuel thievery was still an ongoing problem.

He said that some of the precautions recommended included a secure fencing off, of outdoor fuel tanks with good quality perimeter fencing.

“Fuel tanks that are located away from houses or offices are most at risk and in these situations, robust perimeter fencing, and gates need to be properly secured.

“We are also recommending that people and businesses consider installing alarms, anti-siphoning devices, security lighting and CCTV cameras,” said Sergeant Walsh.

He added that fuel thieves often used small drill and syphoning pump to steal the fuel with the whole operation completed in a matter of minutes.

Last month in Limerick, thieves stole an estimated €500 worth of diesel from trucks parked overnight in a business park – large trucks and artics can have a fuel capacity of over 100 gallons.

“As with a lot of robberies, fuel thieves will tend to pick out the opportunist targets. Fuel is a valuable commodity and basic security measures need to be put in place,” said Sergeant Walsh.

Where businesses have multiple users of their fuel tanks, the Gardaí also advise that a fuel management system should be put in place to record the users as well as the dates and times when they access the supply.

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Connacht Tribune

Housing plan turned down over lack of pedestrian access

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The lack of a pedestrian connection to the town centre was listed as one of the reasons why a development of almost 40 houses has been turned down in Ballinasloe.

The proposed development at Poolboy would have been adjacent to an existing housing estate – but planners cited the lack of connectivity to the town centre as a reason why it was refusing the application.

The plans outlined the provision of a mix of three-bedroom detached and semi-detached houses along with 20 townhouses as part of the 38 unit development.

They were submitted by Crownbell Limited, which is based in Clarinbridge, and sought a connection to the existing access road serving the Cuil na Canalacht estate which was granted permission back in 2012.

However, Galway County Council refused planning on the grounds that the proposed development did not provide sufficient pedestrian access to the wider urban area of Ballinasloe.

They said that to grant planning would pose an intensified risk to the safety of pedestrians and other road users and lead to “unsustainable mobility patterns” in the immediate area.

It was stated that the development would be prejudicial to public safety and contravene the sustainable transport policy objectives of the Galway County Development Plan.

Furthermore, planners said that the site was in an area that is zoned open space recreation and amenity in the Ballinasloe Local Area Plan.

They said that this seeks to protect and enhance such areas for exercise facilities, sports grounds and playing fields and to grant planning would set an undesirable precedent.

Given the site’s location to the River Suck, the applicants submitted an environmental impact assessment and screening report. The development would be around 300 yards from the River Suck Callows.

It was proposed that the development would connect to the existing sewer scheme, and it was stated in a submission that it would not overly burden the system.

However, it was a lack of pedestrian access from the site into the town centre which eventually scuppered the proposed development plan.

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