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Wheelchair-bound man’s desperate plea to save service



A quadriplegic is pleading with An Post to reverse their decision and reopen Cleggan’s postal agency which has been described as another nail in the coffin for the village.

The sub-post office at Coyne’s in the village closed last Friday after the shop lease changed hands.

Around 70 pensioners and social welfare recipients will no longer have access to their payments in Cleggan, which also has no ATM. They will have to travel the 4km to Claddaghduff – which has no public bus service – or Clifden, which has the nearest cash point and public bus service that takes up to 75 minutes to travel the 11km.

The closure could threaten the very survival of Cleggan’s only shop.

When Joe Rogan took over the lease of Coyne’s a fortnight ago, he believed it included the postal agency, which is vital to attract regular customers from as far afield as Inishbofin and the surrounding hinterland at least 10km away.

The footpaths leading to the shop had all been modified for one of those customers, Marty Coyne, who lives just across the road.

He uses a chin stick to get around in his wheelchair but is otherwise totally dependent on round-the-clock carers. Collecting his disability benefit himself is one of the few things he can do unaided.

“It’s going to cause such an inconvenience for me and all the pensioners who don’t have a car and rely on this service – all for the sake of a paltry amount of money that An Post are saving; they’re not even paying a postmaster’s salary,” exclaimed Marty.

“My sister has power of attorney but she’s a widow who doesn’t drive. I would have to get a neighbour to drive me to Claddaghduff and back. I could give my carers my PIN but it’s not something I really feel comfortable about doing. It’s awful inconvenient.”

The post office was downgraded to an agency six years ago after four decades of serving the people.

An Post said the contract ended with the previous shopkeeper, Geraldine O’Toole, who decided to move. There were no plans to renew it with the new leasee.

“Postal agencies are essentially for paying out social welfare. It’s not a post office. There are only 140 of them in the country. They’re not part of our network at all. We have a completely automated network of 1,134 post offices around the country and they’re not part of our business model anymore,” said spokesman Angus Laverty.

“DSP [Department of Social Protection] customers have been transferred to Claddaghduff Post Office. If there are other post offices in the vicinity which would better suit customers that transfer can be arranged. In this case obviously we regret any inconvenience to customers and we will do what we can to offset that.”

However local resident and photographer Heather Greer who set up the local information website, said villagers felt this was another nail in the coffin for Cleggan – and all to save a couple of thousand euro at most a year.

“Cleggan has been an embattled village for some years.  It has suffered badly from its roads and harbour area being completely clogged with cars and camper vans parked willy-nilly while their occupants catch the ferry for holidays to the nearby island of Inisbofin.

“Its national school is almost every year in danger of closure or being downgraded, due to numbers falling below the magical figure of 20. The people of Cleggan and its environs feel the very existence of their village is under threat as a viable place in which to live.”

The new shopkeeper Joe Rogan who runs a shop in Renvyle has invested a considerable amount to install a butcher counter and revamp Coyne’s. He is now worried the business is unviable without the postal agency. Pleas to An Post to renew the contract have gone unanswered.

“It’s a disaster. I knew it would be a hard slog to get it up and running – the postal agency was a necessity as you know people would come in for their pensions on a Friday and you have tourists coming in looking for stamps and buying postcards,” he explained.

“I wouldn’t get any money really for providing the service, a very minimal amount per transaction, but it’s a big service to the people and it brings them into the shop and the village.”

Marty insists that the post office is a vital service for those without their own transport.

“I would like somebody from An Post to ring and explain to me the decision made by some faceless person in an office in Dublin – what would they think if they had a son or daughter, sister or brother in the same position?”

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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