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LGBT parade will still have pride of place



The founder of Ireland’s longest running Gay Pride parade has insisted the annual event is still essential to celebrate the past sacrifices of activists and ensure visibility for the community.

There were rumblings in the wake of the definitive Yes vote in the Marriage Referendum that there was no need to hold a Gay Pride parade or festival as there was no longer legal discrimination.

However, Nuala Ward – who organised the first Gay Pride parade in 1989, which involved just 15 people in a march from Eyre Square to the Quays Bar – believes the event is still an important focal point for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the city.

“It means many different things to many different people. The Pride parade itself honours and respects LGBT people who have gone before us and have fought for human rights and had a much tougher time of it than we have today, feeling as the old joke went ‘the only gay in the village’.

“As the founder of the helpline, I know many had to emigrate so they could be themselves and be around people like them.

“Thankfully things continue to improve. Hopefully in time to come, Pride will be completely just a celebration.”

Nuala, who has done a lot of work with older LGBT people in rural communities and is currently working to set up a resource centre in the city for the community, is no stranger to public opposition.

“I always got told in the 80s ‘you’re being a fool for putting yourself out there’, people were scared. For me, I didn’t care how people viewed me. For me, visibility was important for overall mental health and wellbeing, being the ‘only gay in the village’ was not a nice place to be in.

“When homosexuality was decriminalised, people said there was no need to have a Gay Pride parade. I can’t speak for the whole community, but I feel a parade is important.

“It’s about visibility and paying respect to the people who put themselves out there at a great personal cost to win human rights.”

She also insists that ‘a lot of homophobia and transphobia’ still exists. The event also serves to highlight anti-gay conditions in other countries “which haven’t come as far as Ireland”.

Nuala was deeply involved in the Yes Equality campaign throughout the county as an army of volunteers knocked on doors.

She described the result as ‘incredible’ in raising awareness about the issues facing gay people.

“It opened up a huge national conversation and was a huge learning experience not just for the straight community but for the LGBT community who got to see a huge amount of support and understanding being expressed.

“Many were asking questions but from a great place of wanting to understand. It’s been incredible on so many levels.”

She organised the first Pride parade with two straight friends – Jane Talbot and Natalie Zebolt – as her gay friends were too scared to get involved.

Pádraic Breathnach from Macnas gave them material to make a banner and allowed them to use the workshop.

Of the 15 who showed up to march, three were lesbian, two were gay men and the rest were heterosexuals ‘dressed quite camply’, she laughs.

For a good few years, around 30 people showed up to take part in the parade before it grew to an attendance of several hundred. When other Pride festivals sprang up, numbers dropped again.

But it has continued every year since.

The 26th Galway Pride Festival will take place August 13 to 16, with the parade taking place on Saturday at 2pm followed by a family fun day at Fr Burke Park in the Claddagh.

“I’ve never missed a Pride in Galway. I have a big grá for it. I’ll definitely be in it this year and hopefully there will be a big turnout from everyone,” enthused Nuala.

Check for more information on events and venues.

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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