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War of words over job cuts proposal at GMIT



The Governing Body of GMIT is divided over proposals to axe staff from the payroll.

In an unprecedented move, a Governing Body member has publicly challenged GMIT President, Fergal Barry, over alleged “factually incorrect” statements made by him regarding proposed job cuts.

The email sent by Michael Geoghegan, non-academic member of the Governing Body, to Dr Barry, was copied to staff, and members of the Governing Body.  It disputes a circular sent to staff last Thursday, in which Dr Barry said the Governing Body had approved financial projections to 2020 and a programme to eliminate last year’s budget deficit of €2.8 million over five years.

It included “a reduction of 22 posts for this academic year”, Dr Barry said.

But this is disputed by, Mr Geoghegan, who is also GMIT branch chairperson of trade union SPITU.

In his public rebuke, he said: “I have to write to you to state that I believe this communication to be factually incorrect in many regards and I would like to disassociate myself from all of its contents.”

Mr Geoghegan added: “It is my recollection that Governing Body did not approve a reduction of 22 posts for this academic year. What I recall was Governing Body approving programs and budgets . . . while the programs and budgets that were approved did include a proposal for a reduction of 22 posts in the institute, they also included the addition of 17 posts which is a net loss of just five.”

He said he was precluded from saying more because “I believe it would not be following proper protocol”.

When contacted, Mr Geoghegan refused to comment on the contents of his or Dr Barry’s email but he expressed concerns at cutbacks.

“As a governor, all matters relating to the Governing Body should remain in the boardroom,” he said.

“As a trade union man, and as SIPTU shop steward, I want jobs protected. The whole thing has been handled badly. If there are to be job losses, there needs to be opportunities to upskill and retrain.

“I haven’t been given any detailed plans about what jobs are going and who is going to do the work of the people that are let go. Management hasn’t told us what services they will no longer be providing,” said Mr Geoghegan.

Last week’s story in the Galway City Tribune detailing job losses were in the pipeline, prompted lecturers’ trade union, TUI, to voice its alarm.

Aidan Kenny, Assistant General Secretary of TUI, said the union, “is gravely concerned by reports that GMIT intends to cut jobs as a result of budget deficits. The institute of technology sector has already been the subject of severe cuts from the Higher Education Authority over the past five years. The proposal, by an independent consultant, that job cuts are an appropriate saving measure, is absolutely unacceptable to TUI.”

TUI has convened an emergency branch meeting for next Wednesday, May 10 where members will “discuss a response to both the severe funding cuts to the institute and this new threat.”

Mr Kenny added: “TUI will utilise all means to protect its members.”

For the second week in a row, GMIT did not respond to queries submitted by this newspaper. Des Mahon, chairman of the Governing Body, could not be reached.

Another member of the Governing Body, who asked not to be named, said “there’s war up there” in relation to the row between Dr Barry and Mr Geoghegan, and the proposed cuts. “People’s jobs are on the line so it is very sensitive,” the source said.

GMIT Students Union President, Michael Kerrigan, who is also a member of the Governing Body, said: “As we are currently in a poor financial situation cuts have been expected, however it is difficult for us to judge the direct impact of these cuts to students as we are unaware of what jobs will be lost.”

Connacht Tribune

Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash



A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.

Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.

The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.

The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them. 

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Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra



Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra



Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.

Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).

The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.

Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.

Road Closures:

  • Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
  • Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
  • Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
  • Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
  • Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
  • Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday

A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given.  Motorists will experience delays as a result.”

The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.

Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).

“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.

“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding.  High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.

“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.

“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.

Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.

“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.

“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so.  Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”

Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.

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