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Family says woman ‘demonised and criminalised’ by Council



Paddy Cummins remembers like it was yesterday the afternoon he got a phone call to say his sister, Bríd, had taken her own life.

It was December 6, 2004, and Paddy was at work at the C&C Group in Clonmel town where he was operations manager. Angela, his older sister, broke the news.

“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I thought it was a joke. I rang Bríd every week. I visited her every couple of weeks. We were best buddies because we were nearest in age. I was stunned,” says Paddy, in his first ever interview about the death which sparked controversy.

With suicide there are always more questions than answers. But this was different – and the Cummins family believes her death was preventable.

Bríd, a former journalist, who had mental health issues, fought eviction by Galway City Council from the council house she was living in. The Council had secured an eviction order against her in November 2004. She appealed the decision but was willing to leave voluntarily if she could stay for Christmas. The Council refused and according to the court order she was to vacate the property on December 6, 2004.

Housing agency COPE said it was instructed by the Council not to provide crisis accommodation for the 48-year-old. On that date she was found dead in her flat in Munster Avenue when officials turned up to get back the house keys from her. The tragedy is known as the Bríd Cummins Affair and is regarded as a stain on the city.

“For someone to die in the circumstances that she did was a huge trauma and everybody knows that that type of death (suicide) is a huge tragedy on its own but to have so many avenues and negatives connected with it makes it 100 times worse,” he said.

The Cummins’ family have always felt that the local authority did not act in a professional manner in the way they dealt with Bríd. That assertion has been strengthened by details in the book ‘Abuse of Power: Because Councils Can’ by author and Council whistleblower, Julie Grace. The book published last year, which charts the story of Bríd and how she was treated by the Council, revealed new evidence of the affair that the family wasn’t aware of.

The family believes the Council fabricated an anti-social behaviour case against their sister and criminalised her. “Bríd didn’t get a fair hearing,” says Paddy. “My whole beef with the Council is they demonised her and they criminalised her. We feel she got a raw deal. They took away her name; they took away her character.”

He called on the executive of Galway City Council to ‘do the decent thing’. “What we’re looking for is an apology and the restoration of her name. The apology is for the lack of professionalism and dignity in the way she was treated. They need to recognise the fact that they could have handled it a lot more professionally with more dignity and humanity because, in effect, they criminalised a single, young woman to justify throwing her out of the house.”

The Cummins family felt they were treated “appallingly” when arriving at Galway Garda Station on the day of Bríd’s death, and by Council officials when they visited Munster Avenue. But, by and large, they are overwhelmed by, and grateful for, the support from the people of Galway, including friends of Bríd.

Paddy appeals to Galway City Councillors to play their part in bringing closure. “Leave the politics to one side. This is a humanitarian case. We are an ordinary family that never hurt anyone in our lives. All we are expecting from the elected representatives and the executive is to step back from the stubbornness and take a humanitarian look at this.”

And as for the cynics who might snipe from the sidelines and claim that the family’s motives aren’t pure, Paddy insists: “We’re absolutely not on a witch-hunt. That’s not who we are. We have made that clear. My family and I have no interest in revenge . . . If I was out to get money from the Council all I have to do is go to a solicitor and take an action. But that’s not what it’s about. That won’t bring back my sister. All we are interested in is my sister is not a criminal, was never a criminal – she didn’t have a criminal bone in her body.”

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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