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NUIG’s wellbeing conference sees college hit with €22,000 loss



An NUI Galway conference on ‘mindfulness’ cost more than €37,000 to host.

The two-day event on-campus last October incurred a net loss of over €22,000, when income from sponsorship contributions and ticket sales are factored in.

The costs incurred include €6,350 for hotel accommodation for guests, as well as €1,000 for taxis for speakers. Another expense was listed as “gifts”, which amounted to €1,625.

Some €15,000 – nearly half of the overall outlay – was attributed to “consultancy costs” but the university has refused to say who these fees were paid to.

The details were released to the Connacht Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mindfulness, associated with Buddhism, is a way of paying attention to the ‘here and now’ and developing ‘peace of mind’.

According to NUIG a number of “high level” speakers and “mindfulness visionaries” gave talks at the Mindful Way conference on Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10 last.

Among the “key speakers” were Alfert Tolle, Google’s ‘compassion guy’; Gelong Thuben, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk; Chris Ruane, a former British Labour Party MP; and Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy – or Sister Stan – the poverty campaigner.

Jim Browne, president of NUIG, was a panellist who joined the speakers in a roundtable discussion on mindfulness in education, as did president of Burren College of Art, Mary Hawkes Green.

NUIG’s speakers ‘team’ at the conference included: Lokesh Joshi, vice-president for research; Chris Curtin, vice-president for innovation and performance; and Emily Lane founder of the Corporate Wellbeing Institute.

The panel chair was Seán O’Driscoll of Athrú Consultancy.

The full costs of the conference were €37,112.45.

The event was free for NUIG staff and students but tickets’ sales from the public generated income of €1,415; and sponsorship amounted to €13,000. The net cost when income is accounted was €22,697.45.

As well as €1,000 for taxis, €6,350 on hotel accommodation, which was for two nights for 10 guests, and €1,625 for gifts, other costs included: €1,170 for stationery; €1,370 for design and marketing; €1,078 for photography costs; €600 for digital graphics; €1,845 for programme brochure design and layout; €2,727 for printing; and €140 for bank charges.

Some €360 was paid for catering costs and NUIG spent €419 for dinner at Kirwan’s Lane restaurant.

Consultancy costs totalled €15,000 in three separate payments of €2,400, €8,400 and €4,200.

NUIG said: “The consultancy costs cover project management of the conference, assisting with and contributing towards programme design, and overall contribution toward the running of the conference and the mindfulness initiative.”

NUIG refused to release who the money was paid to as it said it was “personal data”. The Tribune appealed but it was not upheld.

“The costs referred to were incurred by the engagement of an individual as a short-term part-time employee of the university rather than as an external consultant,” said university secretary Gearóid Ó Conluain.

He added: “The university has been requested by the individual not to release the personal data”.

This refusal can be appealed to the Information Commissioner.

NUIG said the mindfulness conference, “brought together mindfulness visionaries, entrepreneurs, political and social and university students and staff, to share the evidence-based impact of mindfulness on performance, well-being, entrepreneurship and society.”

NUIG said it was attended by some 236 delegates over the two days.

It added: “The conference drew broad and international awareness to the concept of mindfulness and its potential in a university setting from the perspective of organisational development for both staff and students. At its core is an openness and commitment to explore the opportunities presented by mindfulness in enhancing the university’s ability to deliver on the Vision 2020 strategy.

“The university is of the view that integrating mindfulness will build a stronger sense of community, wellbeing and self-motivation among students and staff. The Mindful Way conference was highly successful and the attention from global leaders in mindfulness and prestigious journals reflects the transforming nature of NUIG’s Mindful Way initiative.”

The press release flagging the conference in October, said: “NUIG intends to become a mindful university, one that is aware of the challenges faced by its student and staff, and is preparing itself to lead the higher education sector by setting a new model on how to build a sustainable and successful institution of education, research, life-long learning and sharing. The conference is one of the first steps towards integrating mindfulness into the university culture.”

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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