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Analysis shows parts of county are still struggling to recover



Some parts of Galway are recovering from the economic crash much more slowly than others.

Because the numbers out of work are still more than double what they were before the crash in four of the six areas into which the county is split for the purposes of Live Register statistics.

Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish has revealed details of an analysis of Galway unemployment which show that the Gort and Loughrea social welfare districts have been the slowest to recover.

He said that the Clifden area, covering a large part of Connemara, had seen unemployment come back to a level of 38% above the 2006 figures.

And in Galway City, the numbers on the Live Register today are 65% above what they were at the peak of the boom.

But the performance of these two districts contrasted sharply with Gort, where unemployment is at more than two and a quarter times the 2006 level, or 128% more.

Struggling almost as much is the area of the county to the north of that, served by the Loughrea Social Welfare Office, where numbers ‘signing on’ are still 121% over the figures nine years ago.

Next in line is Ballinasloe, at 117% above the figures registered as being out of work before the economic slide sent jobless totals sky-rocketing, closely followed by Tuam at 116% above.

“It all goes to show that while employment levels have generally risen around the county, there is no room for complacency in terms of maintaining current jobs and attracting new investment to the city and county,” said Deputy Grealish.

“While every Social Welfare Office area in the county has seen a considerable drop in the numbers signing on since their peak four or five years ago — by almost a third on average — most are still way above what they were in the so-called good times.

“And we shouldn’t forget either that at least part of the reason why there are fewer people on the Live Register than five years ago is that so many have been forced to emigrate in search of work in Sydney, Toronto, Boston, London and elsewhere around the world.”

In terms of how well the different areas of the county have recovered since their peak unemployment (in most cases in 2010 or 2011), Gort is also worst off.

The south of the county has seen the numbers on the Live Register drop by 23% since they hit a high of 1,536 in August 2012 — well below the comparable national average reduction of one third, or 33%.

Other parts of the county have fared better since their peaks:

  • Galway City -42% from high of 13,734 in August 2009;
  • Loughrea -42% from August 2010 peak of 2,732;
  • Tuam -36% from August 2010 high of 3,691;
  • Ballinasloe -33% from peak of 2,759 in August 2010;
  • Clifden -32% from high of 1,357 in January 2012.

Galway County as a whole has seen unemployed numbers fall by 36% since its darkest month of August 2010, which those on the Live Register reached 25,389.

Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of people on the Live Register at the end of November in County Galway was 15,714.

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.

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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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