From the Galway City Tribune – Scant regard was being shown for the safekeeping of residents’ property at a city mental health unit, according to a damning report from the Mental Health Commission.
The Commission identified a ‘critical risk’ at the HSE-run Woodview Mental Health Centre in Merlin Park where an inspection team found monies that were supposed to be safeguarded by the centre were being borrowed from to fill shortfalls in other residents’ money.
This was found to have been done without the permission of the residents affected, while the inspectors also found that secure facilities were not provided for the safekeeping of residents’ money.
Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly, said this amounted to an unacceptable and serious breach of regulations.
“Some residents were unaware that their money was being used for other purposes and this is a clear and serious breach of the regulation on personal property and possessions.
“It is unacceptable to take advantage of residents in this way. It is a clear denial of a basic human right. For this non-compliance, we had no choice but to impose a critical risk rating. Since the inspection, we have been assured that the centre that the money has been returned and improved arrangements are now in place to safeguard residents’ property.
However, we will continue to require assurances from the centre in this regard,” said Mr Farrelly.
The Commission, which is an independent statutory body, has been provided with these assurances as well as confirmation that arrangements have been put in place to notify An Garda Síochána, as appropriate, should any future concerns be identified.
Woodview, a single-storey mental health facility on the campus of Merlin Park University Hospital, is described as providing continuing mental health care to an ageing cohort, most of whom have been at the centre for a number of years.
The centre also provides mental health rehabilitation and recovery for residents awaiting community rehabilitation placements.
In addition to the critical risk, a number of high-risk items were found, one of which was non-compliance with the regulation on care planning as two care plans had not been developed by the multi-disciplinary team within seven days of admission.
Two other care plans failed to identify appropriate goals for residents, and one plan had not been reviewed by the multi-disciplinary team.
A high-risk rating was applied to the regulation on therapeutic services and programmes for several reasons, including that the services and programmes provided by Woodview were not appropriate and did not meet the needs of the residents.
Another high-risk rating was put on the premises where dangers were identified due to the lack of safeguards on radiators; the outside area was littered with cigarette butts, rubbish, a walking aid, and a sweeping brush.
It was found that high-risk ligature points were not being minimised to the lowest practicable level and hazards were not minimised – fire doors were kept open with stoppers and a chair.
“The inspection team also identified a number of quality initiatives on inspection,” states the report.
Among these was a model of residents and staff working collaboratively to improve safety, the provision of support to residents to personalise their bedrooms and painting of the main dining room to create a more homely feel.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, October 7. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.
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.”
Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge
The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.
Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.
A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.
The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.
The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.
One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.
Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.
The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.
(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).
Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City
From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.
Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).
Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.
He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.
The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.
At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.
Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.
And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”
Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.
Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.
He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.
The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.
A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.
“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.