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Blood Bike West team expands fleet to include van



Emergency voluntary service Blood Bike West has once again expanded its fleet of vehicles, with the addition of a new van, sponsored by Northgate Vehicle Hire.

Ireland’s first and pioneering blood bike service is constantly seeking ways to improve and broaden the scope of the service it offers, and the new van will provide numerous benefits, not only to Blood Bike West, but to many who require urgent medical supplies.

The charitable organisation comprises a number of motorbike enthusiasts who volunteer to provide an emergency, out-of-hours, free service to HSE in the West of Ireland, collecting and delivering medical items such as blood, breast milk, medicines and other urgently-required supplies from all over the country.

“Since we launched our last bike, we’ve gotten busier to the point that we’ve taken on more volunteers as riders. We’ve also had an increase in the range of stuff that we bring. A couple of times we’ve been presented with something that physically wouldn’t fit on a motorbike. And there’s also safety to consider – especially in the winter when conditions would be too dangerous for a bike. But there would still be a need to move stuff,” said PRO of Blood Bike West John Moylan.

With this in mind, Blood Bike West set about finding a partner to address the issue, and thanks to the new van, the organisation can ensure that the demand for its volunteer services will continue to be met, with enhanced levels of service.

The van came at just the right time for the charity; with the winter months closing in, volunteers can keep their own safety in mind as they make their way from North to South, East to West, collecting and delivering whatever is needed to save lives.

A van was always in the pipeline, to make things easier to transport and to allow volunteers to transport larger items and in larger quantities. But thanks to Northgate Vehicle Hire, [] Blood Bike West have managed to get a van and haven’t had to pay a penny.

“That allows us to move those items but also to be in use when a motorcycle physically can’t be done, for whatever reason – safety or otherwise,” said Mr Moylan.

“But it also gives us a little bit of extra capacity, because when our other bikes are despatched, we now have an extra string to the bow. It has multiple benefits for us. It’s something that we’ve been aspiring to for a while, but now it’s come to pass.”

Other vehicles on the Blood Bike West fleet have names. The most recently launched bike, for example, was named Juliet, after baby Juliet Quirke, born in 2014. In the course of the pregnancy, Juliet’s mother Gabriella was in need of a specialist transfusion before Juliet was born and as part of that process, Blood Bike West was required to perform an urgent run of blood samples to Dublin.

The resultant medical care that followed that run ensured that baby Juliet was born healthy to mum Gabriella and dad Alan, thanks to Blood Bike West rider Mick Carty who was on call at the time and made the trip efficiently and successfully.

“We haven’t decided to put a name on the van just yet. We may do in time, but we just haven’t yet. We did retire one bike this year as well, which has to be replaced between now and spring and we’ve actually picked a name for that, but because the van came about quicker than we had expected, we haven’t put a name on it just yet,” said Mr Moylan.

Blood Bike West, like any charity, thrives with the support of the public. Members of the public who would like to donate to Blood Bike West can do so via the donate button on their website or by texting the word BLOOD to 50300.


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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