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GMIT probe ‘raised more questions than answers’



The chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has agreed to probe further the expenditure of €436,000 by Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) on a plagiarism investigation.

Fianna Fáil TD, John McGuinness said it was “incredible” in terms of “governance and money” how some €460,000 was spent by GMIT on an investigation of one incident of plagiarism at the Dublin Road college. Deputy McGuinness said it warranted further investigation by PAC and he agreed to return to the matter at another sitting.

The issue was raised at PAC by Galway East TD, Paul Connaughton Junior, alumni of the college.

The Fine Gael Deputy said the correspondence received by the PAC from the Higher Education Authority about the expenditure by GMIT “raised more questions than it answers”.

He requested the PAC would return to look at the matter again and tease out the issues.

According to correspondence presented to PAC, it cost €1,500 per day for the two investigators, said Deputy Connaughton. “I doubt Sherlock Holmes would have cost that much,” he said.

Speaking at the PAC Dáil committee, he added: “There is no conclusion in sight and the review could continue like a runaway train. The last point was that there was an argument between the investigators that required further legal action between the two of them before the report could be published. That was also an extra cost on the taxpayer.”

He said the report received by members of the PAC raises many questions about the expenditure of money by GMIT. He said that officials from the Department of Education, Higher Education Authority and GMIT would have to come in and “explain it again and to give some detail”.

Deputy Connaughton said: “How did they come up with the €1,500? Why there was no interim report? Why was there no deadline? At the very end (of the report) it states that the college’s procedures for dealing with plagiarism were fit for purpose. It cost us €436,000 to find that out. So many more questions need to be asked about this.”

The chairman of the PAC agreed and promised that the committee would return to the issue of governance and expenditure of money at GMIT in relation to the plagiarism investigation. PAC members hope to return to the GMIT issue before the summer recess.

GMIT President Michael Carmody, who has now retired, and Financial Controller, Jim Fennell, have both previously conceded the investigation has damaged the institute’s reputation.

The incident of plagiarism under investigation relates to a masters student at the School of Business in 2009. It was asked to establish the facts around the allegation that a lecturer facilitated a student, her partner, to cheat in an assignment.

The external investigation was also charged with exposing whether the cheating incident was “suppressed, concealed or covered up” by staff.

The external investigation was launched following revelations highlighted in this newspaper about the incident of plagiarism; and after several internal investigations failed to get to the bottom of the issue.

Mr Carmody has confirmed disciplinary action was taken against staff on foot of the report into the incident, which GMIT has refused to publish the report despite initially indicating that it would be published.

Prior to his retirement, Mr Carmody confirmed the college was dealing with another ‘historical’ case and told the Galway City Tribune that they could never be fully confident that there weren’t more plagiarism ‘skeletons’ in the college’s closet.

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.

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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.

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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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