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Firefighters’ alarm at conditions in station



Firefighters have hit out at unsafe and unhealthy conditions at Galway Fire Station, branding it a “disgrace and embarrassment”.

The ‘drying room’ for washed fire kits is actually converted toilet – with the urinal still in place.

Taking to social media to highlight the conditions in the station, officers said the building on Fr Griffin Road is not fit for purpose and they have been let down by management.

Galway County Council – which oversees fire services for the city and county – said repair works will be carried out in a few weeks time to address issues with dampness, rodents and cleaning facilities.

Peter Gavican, Director of Emergency Services with the Council told the Connacht Tribune: “We are aware of the issues, an audit was carried out at the end of last year, and we are going through a public procurement process now for works to be carried out. Of course we’d like to have a put a contractor on site straight away, but we have to go through this process.

“A new fire station is being planned for Galway, and we hope to have a proposal with the Department this year,” said Mr Gavican.

In a post on the ‘Fire and Rescue Galway’ Facebook page, officers wrote: “Although money has been set aside for a number of county stations for upgrading which is great, once again management have let us down and left us living and working in a building not fit for purpose.

“People may not be aware, but fire-fighters live and work here 24 hours a day, it’s our home for a minimum of 48 hours a week, but seems that it’s ok for us to live in these conditions.

“Management have nice warm dry offices and go home to their families in the evening and weekends, so why would they care? In truth, the station is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the firefighters who work here, especially when we have visitors or members of public on site.

“Perhaps management would like to spend some time living in these conditions,” the post reads.

Speaking of the urinal ‘drying room’, they went on to say: “This really sums up the state of the place and how management really care for our conditions, the list is pretty endless here.

“We have no clean room to wash down our breathing apparatus sets and test them. We have to do that on fold down tables in the appliance bay with the fire trucks – as all fire-fighters know not suitable.

“We have rat and mouse traps all over the station inside and out, the yard is full of old portacabins and containers cluttering up an already overcrowded yard.

“Perhaps it’s time the Chief Fire Officer, Director of Services and County and City Managers finally sorted this place out and show us we do matter.

“We have highlighted these issues so many times through the proper channels but are always ignored, fire-fighters are sick and tired of living in these unsafe, dirty and unhealthy conditions,” the post reads.

Director of Services, Peter Gavican, said the Council is set to put a programme of works out for public procurement, and he hopes work will start within two months.

“It’s an old building and we’re working to keep it safe and at the same time concentration on building a brand new facility. The issues with the station have been found by ourselves on a recent audit. Any Health & Safety issues will be addressed,” said Mr Gavican.

He added that a new fire station to serve Galway is in the planning stages, and he hopes to forward a proposal to the Department this year.

A number of potential sites have been identified for the new station, but a final decision has not yet been made.

Mr Gavican added that other stations in the county received funding last year, but the Council had no control over stations to which the Department chose to allocate money.

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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