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Good Samaritan to the rescue after defibrillator theft



Heartless thieves have stolen a defibrillator which a GAA club had spent months fundraising for to ensure their players would have the best chance of survival in the event of a cardiac incident.

Castlegar GAA Club had raised €1,500 just a year ago to buy the machine which was stored in a locked cupboard of the referee’s changing rooms in their club complex in Roscam.

They do not know when exactly it was taken, but they discovered it was missing two months ago, said club chairman Damien Tummon.

“Sometimes the gates are left open to facilitate the refs so it must have happened on one of those occasions. We thought maybe somebody had borrowed it for some reason and forgot to return it so put up a notice on Facebook but it seems it was definitely stolen.

“We did check CCTV but could not find anything unusual,” explained Mr Tummon.

The defibrillator was taken out once for use since its purchase to help somebody in trouble at the railway track. By the time a club official brought it to the incident site an ambulance had already arrived.

Luckily enough it has not been needed since it was swiped. However the death of a 15-year-old ‘Bish’ student at the Doughiska pitches last month during a soccer match has spurred the club on to replace the lifesaving equipment.

Hassan Taiwo collapsed during a game between his team, Merlin Woods FC, and Salthill Devon and was later declared dead at University Hospital Galway.

“That death really hit us. We were thinking if that was to happen in our pitches we’d be really kicking ourselves we didn’t have the defibrillator. So we put the word out there we would have to get another one.”

A good Samaritan answered in the form of Tom Meehan, owner of the Spar Shop in Roscam, who has agreed to purchase the equipment for use by the GAA Club.

Officials in the club have decided it would make more sense from a security point of view to store the defibrillator in the shop, which is just across the road from the pitches.

“It’s awful that we can’t store something as vital as a defibrillator where we would like but having it in the Spar also means the community will have easier access to it in the event of an emergency,” Mr Tummon explained.

Castlegar GAA Club is one of the city’s biggest sports, with 80 adults and up to 400 youths regularly using its facilities

“We’re grateful to Tom Meehan that we don’t have to go out again and fundraise. But really it’s very sickening that somebody would feel the need to go and steal this.”

News of the Castlegar device follows confirmation a fortnight ago that three life buoys are being stolen or thrown into the city’s waterways every week by vandals.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm. If needed, it can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. Defibrillators are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, where the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating and can cause death if it’s not treated within minutes. Some 6,000 of the 10,000 who die from cardiovascular disease die from sudden cardiac arrest and 70 per cent of these occur outside of hospital.

“There is significant evidence to suggest that early defibrillation can have a major impact on survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest,” according the GAA’s guidelines on the use of defibrillators.

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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