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Sister county Washington plays its part in anniversary



Representatives from Galway’s sister county, Washington County in the US State of Wisconsin, said they were “honoured and privileged” to be part of Galway County Council’s 1916 Centenary commemorations – beginning with a flag raising ceremony outside County Hall.

Speaking at a special meeting of Galway County Council on Monday afternoon, Chairperson of the Washington County Board, Richard Gundrum, said that the delegation were overwhelmed by the reception they have received. “It’s safe to say that there isn’t a bad one out of you,” he joked, to murmurs of “give it time”.

At the meeting, members and invited guests were presented with a ‘Proclamation for Our Time’ developed by a diverse range community groups from around the county.

In a revamped version of the original document, read from the steps of the GPO in Dublin by Pádraig Pearse 100 years ago, the new document reaffirms the commitment to equality and fairness – as well as looking at the changing needs of modern Ireland.

The document, created by groups representing the elderly to the young, the travelling community, the LGBT community and the disabled federation of Ireland – the new proclamation reflects a diverse and multicultural society.

It pledges civil and religious liberties, equal opportunities, justice and fairness for all – and recognises the importance of protecting Ireland’s natural resources.

The Irish Diaspora is noted for its importance and it is said that no person should be forced to leave Ireland by economic necessity. The right to a home, education tailored to every individual’s own ability, care for the sick and vulnerable and an appreciation of the elderly are all key parts of the re-imagined document.

Following the presentation, councillors were given the opportunity to speak about their own connections to the rising and reflect on the issues that had been presented to them.

Cathaoirleach Peter Roche reflected on the struggle that faced the volunteers of 1916. “In April 1916, creating an equal society was a challenge – and it remains so today,” he said.

In a moment of comic relief, ‘New Dawn’, the haunting tune gifted to the people of Galway by Ger Fahy as part of the commemorations, spontaneously erupted across the chamber while Cllr Pat Hynes spoke about his own families connections with the rising. “It must be their spirits,” he said, to much laughter from the American guests.

Cllr Michael Fahy spoke of the debt owed to the generation who fought for Ireland 100 years ago.

“I look forward to, on December 6, 2021, that a referendum can be held in the 32 counties of Ireland,” said Cllr Fahy. “Within our lifetime, a united Ireland can take place.”

It was the intention of the visiting delegation to present the council with a replica Liberty Bell – the symbol of independence in the US – however councillors had to settle for a picture of one for now with the bell itself needing liberating from customs.

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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