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Fundraiser for ex-Garda paralysed after freak fall



A Galway man who was involved in a tragic accident that left him paralysed has been made feel like a “bed-blocker” according to his family.

John Conneely, a 59 year old, retired Garda Sergeant from Salthill had been holidaying with his partner in Amsterdam when he felt unwell during dinner.

When he went outside to get some air, he passed out and fell down a series of steep granite stairs, breaking his neck and caused severe spinal cord damage.

After ten hours in the operating theatre, surgeons managed to save his life – but sadly it left him in a quadriplegic state.

After spending some months in hospital in the Netherlands, John was medevaced back to Ireland where he several weeks at the Mater Hospital and from there was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire where he is currently located.

Unfortunately this is only a temporary solution for John and he has already been told he will soon need to make provisions for finding alternative care.

His family have been forced to launch a fundraising to campaign to try to meet the growing costs of such care, given that that assistance from the state will fall far short of what John needs in order to have a minimum quality of life.

Speaking of the problem, John’s brother Jarlath stated, “There is a big issue there at the moment Dun Laoghaire – they want him out but they cannot offer him any place that will meet his needs. He needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week care, and sometimes there needs to be two people with him.”

“He is basically in the terminology of the bureaucrats a ‘bed-blocker,’ but he can’t go because has nowhere to go,” added his brother.

John currently resides in a three bedroom two storey house but given the unsuitability of the building he is been forced to sell his home.

He is looking to purchase a more suitable bungalow house that can be modified to suit his needs but once again this is serious financial drain on both John and his family.

“He feels terrible, on top of all his woes he really feels rotten about the situation he’s in because this has been put to him that he’s a bed ‘block-blocker’. He has been incredibly resilient and he’s an amazing fella and he was always turns the best side out when we are up with him in Dublin,” said Jarlath.

John had only retired from the Gardaí two years ago where he was a member of Garda Sub-Aqua Unit. Before the accident he was described as a very active man. “He was such a fit man. This guy loved life and loved swimming, walking and going to the gym,” his brother told the Connacht Tribune.

John has two children Jennie and Peter and one grandchild called Erin who are all said to be “absolutely devastated” following the heart-breaking incident.

His family have launched the “Jogging for John” campaign which aims to bridge the gap between the government funding and the actual financial costs of ensuring John has a reasonable standard of life. Family and friends of will partake in the Galway Bay 10K run to be held on October 1.

Thus far there have been donations bordering on €18,000 but they are hoping to raise in excess of €50,000. To donate to this fundraiser please do so at-

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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