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Plan for biggest-ever Galway LGBT celebration



Buoyed by a large new committee of enthusiastic volunteers previously without ties to the event, the Galway Pride Festival is predicting the biggest celebration in its 27-year history.

Led by chairman Bruce Henry, who runs the hen party event company Murder on the Menu, the parade will, it is estimated, involve 1,000 participants on Saturday, August 20, with 5,000 tipped to attend a packed calendar of events over the seven days judging by the responses on social media.

“We took over in May and started with no money, we’d missed all the deadlines for public funds and had to finance it all out of our own pockets,” explains Bruce, a native of Canada.

“We set up a partnership programme, created a brand new website, with fresh branding. I’ve contributed well over 600 hours to the festival – collectively the committee has put in thousands of hours. We’re pulling out all the stops.”

Galway Pride has been beset with infighting over the years, which served to tarnish the event’s reputation and may have contributed to a small enough turnout.

Bruce said none of those serving on the new committee had ever been part of festivities.

“Galway is such an amazing city, choc full of life, with an unbelievable spirit. I believed I could bring everyone together and since we set up we’ve had no fights, no walkouts.

“Our initial meetings were open to the public, one of our meetings was broadcast live on Facebook which was viewed 1,500 times so transparency, openness and inclusivity are the fulcrums of this planning committee. We took over with a vision and plan to take us straight into 2020.”

The 12-strong committee has reached out to other Pride events around the country for support. A 32-page guide on the festival will be published for the first time.

The parade will be led by grandmarshal James Patrice, Ireland’s top snapchatter who has presenting gigs on TV3’s Ireland AM and Xposé, finishing up in the Spanish Arch, where there will be a family fun event for three hours, with music and food.

On the Friday, there will be a comedy night at the Loft in Seven on Bridge Street with comedians Pat McDonnell from Father Ted, while Katherine Lynch with host Martin Beanz Warde.

The biggest party takes place on Saturday night at the Black Box, with performances by Dublin drag queen Victoria Secret and music by 2FM DJ Conor Behan.

The traditional Corrib Princess cruise and party on the Sunday evening kicks off with drinks at Nova Bar before revellers are transported by open top bus to Woodquay.

The more serious side of the festival take place at the beginning of the week with workshops on mental health, one centred on the transsexual community, another geared to parents of gay children with a talk by Paul Hegarty of the West Sligo Family Resource Centre who almost lost his daughter to suicide after she came out.

A third workshop is dedicated to HIV – last year there was a 30% increase in the numbers of people diagnosed with the virus, with one person each week diagnosed in University Hospital Galway alone.

This will be hosted by Robbie Lawlor, a former Mr Gay Ireland who lives with HIV and now works as an advocate for the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender community.

Thursday is an alcohol-free day of events geared to tee-totallers and those who feel disenfranchised by the festival’s alcohol-fuelled partying.

■ For tickets and further details log onto their Facebook Page or website.

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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