There will be voter outrage in Galway East as the Government plans to pluck another 3,000 votes from the region and into the Roscommon dominated constituency.
Efforts are being made to restore the county boundary so as Galway East can be restored as a four-seater – as it was case before the boundaries were changed back in 2012.
But it seems that this will not be the case as the Government are determined to maintain the three-seater Roscommon-Galway constituency which takes in the whole of Ballinasloe along with the likes of Ballygar, Williamstown, Glenamaddy and parts of Dunmore.
It has been learned that more parts of Dunmore and Eyrecourt are to be included in the Roscommon-Galway constituency and this is bound to infuriate voters in these areas. It is part of a boundaries commission review that is currently taking place.
But it means that there is no chance of Galway East being restored to a four-seat constituency. Instead it will remain as a three-seater with 3,000 less voters which is now the cause of much controversy.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Michael Finnerty from Ballinasloe said that it was not a move that was welcome. He has constantly campaigned for Ballinasloe to be included in a four-seater Galway East constituency.
“We want to be part of Galway, it is as simple as that. We have no affiliation with Roscommon and the three TDs that were elected in Roscommon-Galway have no affiliation with Ballinasloe. It is a ridiculous situation at the moment.
“I have told the party that this is not satisfactory. We should not have to be in a situation that we have to be part of Roscommon. It does not sit well with party members since the last boundary review,” Cllr Finnerty added.
Fianna Fail party members in the Ballinasloe area are also disgruntled to be part of the Roscommon-dominated constituency and met recently to express their dissatisfaction. They have now written to party headquarters looking for support to have Galway East restored as a four-seater.
In the last general election earlier this year there was no candidate in the Ballinasloe area and the only candidate on the Galway side of the constituency was independent Mick Fitzmaurice in Glinsk who comfortably won a seat.
But now that it is the intention to put 3,000 more votes in the Roscommon-Galway constituency, it seems highly unlikely that there will be any change to the current situation in the immediate future.
Cllr Finnerty believes that eventually voter apathy will set in as he said that there did not seem to be any obvious candidate from the Ballinasloe area standing in the next general election.
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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Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races
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.
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.”