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No data breach on ‘menstruation’ questionnaire, says NUIG



NUI Galway insists there were no breaches of data protection of prospective employees who filled out health questionnaires which included questions about menstrual periods.

NUIG admits that its ‘misogynist’ health questionnaire, which caused a storm when revealed in this newspaper last March, in some instances was returned to the human resource office and not the university physician. But the university insists there were no breaches in data protection.

The pre-employment health assessment, which was subsequently suspended by NUIG following a storm of controversy, contained questions such as: “Do you suffer with any problems with your menstrual periods? Do you suffer any breast problems? Have you ever been treated for gynaecological problems? Have you ever suffered prostate problems?”

The line of questioning was described as “invasive”, “misogynist” and “excessively personal” by senior lectures at the university.

One senior lecturer who initially refused to fill out the form because she felt it was inappropriate was told that a job offered to her was contingent on the form being completed.

The young woman also said that she was required to fill out the questionnaire in addition to taking a medical check-up, which included a breast exam.

She questioned the confidentiality of the forms, and said that the questionnaire was returned to Human Resources and not to the occupational health physician. She said this gave rise to possible data protection breaches.

Internal communication between the Human Resources (HR) department and the Communications Office at NUIG, released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, discuss that story and her version of events.

On March 6, 2015 Mr Gearóid Ó Conluain, Secretary of NUIG, in an email to colleagues asks if her account in the Galway City Tribune was false.

“It is stated once again in this article that the lecturer concerned was asked to send the completed form to HR and did so. Are we absolutely certain that this is false i.e. that we require all such questionnaires completed by any job applicant to be forwarded directly by the applicant to the occupational physician? Can we absolutely stand over this,” asked Mr Ó Conluain.

Mr Colm Flannery, HR Manager Employee Relations, confirms that the statement in the article was, in fact, true.

“Yes, the completed form is returned to the HR office and sent on to the doctor for examination. It should be returned in a sealed envelope but often this is not the case,” he said.

Mr Flannery then advised not to refer to this issue in media statements, “as it will add fuel to the fire”.

In an email to Michelle Ní Chróinín, NUIG Communications Officer, Mr Flannery added that the university would change this policy.

“Our revised process will see this changed to being sent from the doctor and returned to the doctor directly. As I have said below, I would not address this issue at this time in the heat of the moment,” said Mr Flannery.

According to NUIG’s Data Protection Policy, sensitive personal data include personal data as to “physical or mental health or sexual life”.

A breach of data protection, according to the same code, is “an incident which gives rise to a risk of unauthorised disclosure”, and it “must be brought to the attention of the Secretary of the University and the Data Protection Officer as soon as is practical” and “every effort should be made to remove the risk and to ensure that the data subjects are informed.”

However, in a statement, the university said: “An individual provides the data to NUIG, if the individual does not place the data in the provided envelope (with written instructions to seal it and return), he/she makes the disclosure hence there is no ‘unauthorised disclosure’ in this scenario.”

In response to a series of questions, NUIG said: “There was no breach of data protection regulations regarding this matter. The relevant University Officers are consulted in respect of data protection matters.

“It is inaccurate to state that there has been a data breach in respect of this matter. NUI Galway continually reviews its policies and procedures. It is inaccurate to state that there has been a data breach in respect of this matter therefore the remainder of your queries do not arise.”

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.

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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