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Ex-Galway students elevated to top roles

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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has elected NUI Galway alumnus Kevin Donoghue as its president for the 2015/2016 academic year.

Mr Donoghue, from Co Mayo, currently serves as the organisation’s Deputy President and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance. He studied Law at NUI Galway.

“I’m honoured to have been elected to work for the students across Ireland. The year ahead presents many challenges locally and nationally for students. There is no single issue for students – as citizens, students have an acute interest in every aspect of the affairs of the nation,” said Mr Donoghue after his election.

“We seek reform of the grant system and a roadmap for education to be properly recognised as a public good and properly funded.”

Mr Donoghue was elected at this year’s USI Congress, which took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone from Monday, March 23 to Thursday, March 26.

Speaking of her successor on the final day of Congress, outgoing USI President Laura Harmon referred to Mr Donoghue as “an absolute wonderful colleague this year and support to myself and the whole team” and “a kind and considerate individual”.

“I don’t know a lot about the iPhone 6 but I hear it’s an enormous update from the iPhone 5. I certainly hear that it’s a lot more efficient, faster and, more importantly, it’s a lot more stylish. And I can say with complete confidence that Kevin Donoghue is going to be a major upgrade next year,” she said.

“I’m a firm believer that your successor should always be better than you and Kevin Donoghue s going to be a phenomenal president for USI and I’m going to be so proud to look on from the side-lines and to watch the work that’ll be done by the officer board next year.”

In his closing address to Congress last week, Mr Donoghue spoke of the progress delegations had made over the four days.

“This congress has been a progressive one in terms of the motions that we have passed this week. It’s made us stronger and put us in a better position to represent our neighbours in the future,” he said.

“It’s so important that the student movement now unites in pursuit of a common goal. The work that we do next year in the budget and general election will carry a clear and coherent message.

“Free, equal access to education is the way forward for this country. It will be hard-fought and hard-won, but after what I have seen from congress this week, I have absolutely no doubt that we can achieve that and so much else, north and south of the border.”

As well as Kevin Donoghue, USI elected two other former NUI Galway students to its Officer Board. Current Vice President for Welfare at NUI Galway Students’ Union Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin was elected the Vice President for Welfare for USI, and Feidhlim Seoighe, outgoing Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge, has been elected Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region.

“I am absolutely delighted and so humbled to have been elected Vice President for Welfare for USI,” said Miss Ní Shúilleabháin of her election.

“I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from institutions across the country and especially from everyone here in NUI Galway. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ross Doyle, who is one of my best friends and has been an incredible support to me throughout this whole campaign.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an incredible team this coming year, especially Kevin Donoghue and Feidhlim Seoighe, who were also former NUI Galway SU Officers.”

Vice President elect for the BMW region Feidhlim Seoighe is also excited to start his new role alongside two of his “very close” NUI Galway friends.

“Many motions were passed at congress this year – either ones which I proposed, or which will fall under my remit – and I will have to prepare a plan of work for the year for the first National Council of the new term,” he said, discussing his initial plans when he starts his new role.

The three newly-elected officers will begin their term on July 1.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest

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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 www.connachttribune.ie. 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

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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 www.connachttribune.ie. 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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises

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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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