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Connacht Tribune

West may provide the litmus test of European elections

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Getting in step...Euro candidate Maria Walsh got a dance from party leader and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Elections can be the same old ding-dong but they still have the capacity to throw up surprises and upsets. And – even though levels of interest in the European elections seem stupendously low – this time, Midlands North West may provide the one big story.

That is, for a start, the grim prospect of Fianna Fáíl winning zero seats, for the second election running – and the counterweight to that will be Fine Gael pulling off an audacious coup by winning two seats out of four.

How did this sorry state come to pass for Fianna Fáíl? The party is the dominant one in a majority of the 13 counties in the constituency, and, therefore, has support levels far exceeding a quota.

European elections, however, don’t quite work out like that. The party thing just isn’t as important, unless the ‘brand’ is enjoying a moment.

European elections are second tier; so the vote becomes discretionary, a bit like throwing a fiver on a horse in the Galway Hurdle.

People will take a punt on someone because they like the cut of their jib, or they think that person or party has a stance on a particular issue they agree with.

And those issues tend to be the ones that don’t dominate in general elections, where it’s always about the economy, taxes and jobs.

The second big draw is personality. If a person is well known and has a big national profile, their chances of getting elected are much much higher.

There’s a reason why this is particularly so in European elections. The constituencies are vast. Midlands North West extends from Celbridge Co Kildare to Creeslough Co Donegal, and from the Cooley Peninsula as far as Clifden.

Because they don’t feature massively on national media (save for some newspaper features and TV debates in the last week), the rule of thumb is: if you are unknown you are unelectable.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí appeal for help to locate missing man

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Gardaí are seeking help from the public in locating a 66-year-old man who has been missing from Clonbur since Thursday.

Michael Harte is described as being 5’ 9” in height, of slim build with short grey hair. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans, a blue jumper, a tan / khaki padded jacket and tan boots.

He is understood to have access to a black Renault Megane with a 02 C registration.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Clifden Garda Station on 095 2250,  the Garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or any Garda station.

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