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Alcohol strategy to tackle city’s boozing



As the city prepares to host throngs of revellers drinking on the streets during Race Week, a new action plan to help communities tackle alcohol problems has been launched.

The guide was released as part of the city’s five-year alcohol strategy – the first city in Ireland to draw up one – in order to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm.

One of the first steps for communities to get to grips with the scourge of dangerous levels of drinking is to undertake an audit which provides a snapshot of the policies, systems and environmental practices currently in place. The audit should also identify areas for improvement.

The booklet – ‘Research evidence to prevent alcohol-related harm: what communities can do in Ireland’ – advises communities to implement “interventions”.

These include having less cheap alcohol available, greater enforcement of alcohol laws, less alcohol advertising, increased alcohol screening and advice readily on hand to provide to the public.

A monitoring system should be put in place targeting youth access, secondary purchasing, serving intoxicated customers and drink-driving.

The action plan also recommends the adoption of bye-laws to limit drinking in public places.

Much of the report details research around alcohol and what other countries have done to reduce its adverse affects.

In Australia, key information was provided by police to licensees about alcohol-related crimes following drinking on their premises, which resulted in a reduction in alcohol-related incidents linked to the premises.

A Swedish project showed major success in reducing service to intoxicated patrons in licensed premises through community action with responsible server training and greater police enforcement.

In Diadema, Brazil, the murder rate and admissions to women’s shelters declined sharply after the city’s bars were required to close several hours earlier.

The evidence from tobacco policy shows that comprehensive advertising bans were the most effective after taxation in reducing smoking.

The report recommends campaigning against alcohol advertising on publicly funded facilities such as public transport, bus shelters, footpaths, posters, billboards and sporting events to reduce the exposure of children to alcohol marketing.

It also advises community groups to identify and develop local pathways for alcohol-related treatment service and to ensure local residents are aware of how to access alcohol treatment services and encouraged to do so.

The strategy – prepared by the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum in partnership with a range of organisations and groups – was launched in February 2013.

Forum member, Cllr Niall McNelis, said the community action plan – a key part of that strategy – has very achievable goals.

“At the moment bye-laws drafted by Cllr Peter Keane look to tackle and limit drinking in public places. Alcohol advertising near schools has been policed. We are working with colleges and tackling social media promotions – highlighting why Donegal Tuesday is wrong,” he explained.

“We are also communicating where help is available and where to access it. When the Diageo-funded roadshow about alcohol were held in Galway we spoke out against these events and highlighted the fact that you can’t have the alcohol industry involved in setting the bar or targets.”

So far the strategy has been credited with improvements on St Patrick’s Day when local off-licences complied with a request not to open until after 3pm. Gardaí reported a major reduction in antisocial behaviour and alcohol-fuelled violence.

A survey on the density of alcohol selling outlets in the city found there are 248 places to buy alcohol in Galway City, with nearly every shop owning a wine licence.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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