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West’s infrastructure not fit for purpose

Enda Cunningham

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Government and European funding is urgently required in the West to bring roads, environmental and broadband infrastructure up to standard, according to business group Ibec.

The group has branded infrastructure here “not fit for purpose” and warned that without investment, regional economic imbalance will continue.

Ibec’s West Regional Director John Brennan said that essential roads projects need to be completed if jobs are to be created on a large scale.

“We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to avail of really low interest rates to deliver an ambitious capital investment plan for the West Region.

“For the West region to deliver on its growth potential, it needs world class infrastructure. Our current road, environmental and broadband infrastructure is either not fit for purpose or inadequate to meet future demand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galway-based Independent TD Mick Fitzmaurice is to begin a campaign next month to secure funding for the West from Europe.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said he agreed with Mr Brennan that “much of the essential infrastructure in the West of Ireland is not fit for purpose”.

“This is something that I have been pointing out for some time. The problems stem from a decision by the Government to remove the core funding status towards the West of Ireland in 2011.

“This was core funding from Europe which provided up to 40% towards essential infrastructure such as roads, rail links, broadband, and water and sewage services.

“However, the then Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar and the Government changed their policy in that regard in 2011.

“I will be going to Europe in October to lobby to have that funding model resumed for the Western Region.

“The infrastructure in the Western region now must be brought up to an acceptable standard and there is ‘TEN-T’ funding (Trans-European Transport Networks including road, rail, air and water) that can help in that regard,” said Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Ibec have now called on the Government to introduce an ‘ambitious’ capital investment programme in next month’s Budget.

“Businesses in the West are clearly beginning to feel the benefits of economic recovery but many remain constrained by significant infrastructure gaps.

“Very little capital investment has been delivered to the region over the past seven years and we are now playing catch-up. If we invest wisely now and deliver much needed infrastructure, the region will benefit for many years to come and business will create more jobs.”

The business group has said that roads projects need to be prioritised for completion over the next five years, including the completion of the Tuam to Gort M17/M18 motorway, the proposed N6 Galway outer bypass and identified the improvement of the N17 from Galway to Sligo as a ‘medium-term’ priority.

Other major infrastructure needs identified by Ibec include upgrades to the water and waste water networks.

“Broadband also remains a key infrastructure gap and requires public funding to deliver the essential infrastructure to those locations for which it is uneconomic for the private sector to do so.

“Now is the time to invest ambitiously and businesses in the West are calling on Government to provide funding for a number of key infrastructure projects in the region which will ultimately ensure a handsome return for the state through the benefits of business, social and employment prosperity,” said Mr Brennan.

Connacht Tribune

New York-based Galwegian thrives in heart of virus epi-centre

Denise McNamara

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Tadhg Reynolds in Times Square, on the empty streets of Manhattan.

An aspiring entrepreneur and Galway native, who had just set up a digital marketing company in New York when the pandemic struck, continues to work twelve-hour days as companies scramble to stay afloat.

Tadhg Reynolds, 24, from Kinvara, left for a better life exactly a year ago, on graduating from NUIG with a degree in Business Information Systems.

On his arrival, he joined a digital marketing start-up in Manhattan focused on e-commerce before branching out on his own, concentrating on Facebook ads, email and Instagram posts for companies in the US as well as in Ireland.

And then Covid-19 sent shockwaves around the world.

America is now the epi-centre of the pandemic and New York has been hardest hit, with 12,000 new cases confirmed and 600 deaths recorded on the day Tadhg spoke to the Connacht Tribune.

Tadhg had been worried that his newly found business would fall by the wayside as digital marketing is usually the first thing cut in hard times.

“I’ve actually started taking on new clients – companies selling home exercise equipment, hand sanitisers, hand moisturisers are doing really well so I’m helping them capitalise and everything seems to be going ok,” he remarks.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hospitals plan for anticipated virus upsurge

Dara Bradley

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ICU staff at Portiuncula Hospital – with a very clear message for the public. Photo taken by hospital staff because of visiting restrictions.

Extra space to store dead bodies prior to burials and cremations has been added at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

Upgrade works at the mortuary had already started prior to the Covid-19 crisis but additional capacity for potential coronavirus deaths was added as a worst case scenario precaution.

‘Preliminary talks’ about the possibility of opening a temporary field hospital in Galway, if in the worst-case scenario the four city hospitals fill-up, have also taken place as part of the HSE’s wide-ranging pandemic plans.

The capacity planning comes as Dr Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director of Saolta Hospitals Group this week warned we are ‘far from over the hump’ in relation to Covid-19 infections and deaths, even though the public’s compliance with social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus.

The latest figures confirm there were a total of 128 positive cases of Covid-19 in Galway, as of midnight on Sunday, compared with 86 the previous Sunday. That’s up 42 cases in a week, but Sunday’s sharp rise of 16 new cases accounted for almost 40%.

Several hospital sources confirmed that temporary refrigerated prefabricated buildings have been installed alongside the morgue. These have increased by many multiples the 15 spaces in the existing, permanent morgue. An autopsy theatre at the morgue has been moved temporarily to the Fever Hospital building at UHG.

Members of the public who contacted the Connacht Tribune had noticed building work at the city morgue at UHG.

Dr Nash said some construction work was progressing beside the morgue on a new laboratory building that will accommodate the blood and tissue establishment unit. That unit was previously granted planning permission as part of an extension to the morgue.

 

See full story – and a further 20 pages of coverage of the Covid-19 crisis – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

NUIG research team found pandemic was long on the cards

Denise McNamara

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NUIG Professor Máire Connolly.

Back in 2017, a research report led by NUIG Professor Máire Connolly warned that the risk of a pandemic emerging was greater than ever before.

Influenza viruses originating in animals was first in the list of identified threats to human health.

“The timing and origin of the next pandemic is uncertain, but improved preparedness can minimise the impact on human lives and health, and the disruption to economies and societies that results,” she remarked on the publication of the EU ‘Pandem’ report following 18 months of research.

It was unfortunately all too prescient.

“It is a little bit eerie looking back,” Prof Connolly admits this week. “I don’t think we actually envisaged it would be as harrowing as it is.”

The Galway City native’s previous roles with the World Health Organisation (WHO) revolved around health security and disease control in emergencies. She worked with the organisation between 1995 and 2012, often at the heart of devastating crises in the likes of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Iran, Gaza, East Timor, Uganda and Syria..

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also order the paper with your online delivery – or buy a digital edition on www.connachttribune.ie

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