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Galway’s newest TD takes to the big stage like a duck to water



He gets up at four o’clock in the morning and cranks up his digger and then gets to work as an agricultural contractor; in North Galway and Roscommon he is considered one of the best.

Several hours later he returns home, heads for the shower, dons the suit, has a bit of breakfast – and then Mick Fitzmaurice heads for Dail Eireann because that is where the public want him to be.

The straight-talking Glinsk man and turf cutting campaigner has become the darling of the national media and they simply cannot get enough of him.

It is simply to do with the fact that he speaks clearly and simply and yet what he says resonates with nearly everyone in rural Ireland.

Mick Fitzmaurice is the sort of many who would much prefer to get down from the digger, head straight to Leinster House, speak his piece on behalf of his constituents and get back to the daily routine.

Unfortunately for him, politics in Ireland does not operate that way and it is a time-consuming career and there are often days in which he spends 20 hours doing both jobs.

He has a young family and, as he says himself, a wonderful and understanding wife.

Early last year the public got their first real taste of what Fitzmaurice was about.  He declared his intention to run as an independent candidate for Galway County Council mainly on the basis of protecting the rural fabric of the county.

The closure of Garda stations, post offices, banks and various other services infuriated him. He wanted to have some influence in trying to ‘stop the rot’.

He had a huge team behind him and canvassed the Tuam Electoral Area intensely.

He received the third highest first preference and was elected on the first count having exceeded the quota by almost 800 votes.

His supporters were delirious but Fitzmaurice was more restrained and immediately afterwards spoke to the local media about his concern for rural Ireland and how services were being eroded.

At the same weekend Ming Flanagan from Castlerea was elected to the European Parliament and this prompted a bye-election in the old Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency. Fitzmaurice decided this was an opportunity to bring his views and concerns to a national stage.

He could not even vote for himself as he put his name forward and mounted a similar intense campaign.

But he captured the imagination of the mainly rural voter in this constituency.

He may not have topped the poll but he received a major first preference and it became apparent from an early stage that he was to receive an unprecedented transfer from the many independents in the field. They even loved him in Leitrim.

A year on in the Dail, his focus has not changed. He wants rural communities to be reinvigorated. He wants life brought back to villages that are suffering. He wants the elderly to feel safe in their own homes.

“First of all I want to consolidate what we have in rural Ireland and then I want to take what we have closed and use them to our benefit,” he told The Connacht Tribune.

He added: “We cannot stop banks from moving out of towns and villages but at least we can encourage credit unions to replace them and provide a more extensive range of services”.

Fitzmaurice would love for his Independent Alliance to be part of the next Government.

“If I cannot implement change for the benefit of rural communities, then what is the point of me being there”.

He hopes that they can win ten or twelve seats and then maybe they could prop up a Fine Gael/Labour coalition.

But it is abundantly clear he is not there for the money and just has rural Ireland at heart.

Now he will be standing in the new Roscommon-Galway constituency where he can actually vote for himself – and at the moment he is the only Galway candidate standing in this part of the constituency which has 20,000 potential votes.

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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