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Paul Healy

Paul Healy

Tributes paid to teenager who died in Lanzarote tragedy


Tributes have been paid to the young Ballaghaderreen man who died in a tragic moped accident in Lanzarote on Saturday, January 13th.

  The 18-year-old was holidaying with family in the popular resort on the Canary Islands when he was involved in the fatal accident last Friday, according to local sources.

  The young man has since been named as Stephen O’Gara, from Aughurine Moyne in Ballaghaderreen. Mr. O’Gara had been undertaking a carpentry apprenticeship in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and had attended St. Nathy’s College until fourth year.

  A friend of the family said that he was an only child and flew to Lanzarote with his mother and grandparents last Thursday.

  Prayers were said for the repose of his soul at Mass in St. Nathy’s College on Tuesday.

  St. Nathy’s Principal, Declan Dunne, paid touching tribute to the young man earlier this week.

  “Stephen was a lovable guy, a really decent individual who had a lovely, infectious smile. He had a glint in his eye and he brightened up the room. You couldn’t get mad or stay mad at him because he’d win you over.

  “I was just thinking about this the other day: there aren’t too many teenagers who would go away on holiday with their mother and grandparents. That just shows you the kind of person he was,” Mr. Dunne said.

  The community in Ballaghaderreen is devastasted by the tragedy.


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Leyden u-turn after backlash from Murphy camp 



For a woman who normally displays the shrewdest of political judgement, Orla Leyden appears to have at least temporarily lost her sure touch.

  Cllr. Leyden will surely know that her withdrawal this week from the upcoming Fianna Fáil Selection Convention is a PR embarrassment at the very least, and may also have dented her standing with some party grassroots.

  Cllr. Leyden has made last-minute convention withdrawals before, but this time it’s different. This time, there had been a real sense that the experienced councillor was finally making a serious bid to enter national politics. When she declared last October, there was no sense that she was being (just) cajoled into action by supporters, no sense that she was uncertain about the timing. It seemed clear that Cllr. Leyden had finally and very deliberately picked her moment. She was (and is) Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council; the reconfigurated constituency (Roscommon/Galway) was seen as suiting her perfectly; most persuasively of all, there were Cllr. Leyden’s own confident words:

  “…I want to continue making a contribution in both Co. Roscommon and nationally…”

  “There are so many areas I feel I could improve as a TD but where I’m limited as a councillor”.

  “I’m determined and there is an opening and while the time wasn’t right last time around, it is now”.

  There have been false dawns in the past, but Cllr. Leyden made it clear last October that a marriage of circumstances – including her own belief that she could now balance the demands of family and politics should she be elected to the Dáil – had led to her conviction that ‘the time was right.’

  Three months on, and Leyden has again withdrawn at the last moment, perhaps for once and for all ending whatever Dáil ambitions she has toyed with.

  Just what went wrong in ‘Camp Leyden’ is not really clear. 

  You can, when looking for grounds for the u-turn, dismiss Cllr. Leyden’s vague statement this week. Cllr. Leyden simply says her focus for 2018 will be on completing her term as Cathaoirleach. But in October, Cllr. Leyden was pointing to this very role as grounds for her candidature, saying “being Cathaoirleach has made me realise I’m up for the challenge”. 

  The rumour mill suggests that the real reason for the Leyden withdrawal lies with a fierce campaign from the Eugene Murphy camp and a growing belief that Cllr. John Keogh is a ‘chosen one’ from the perspective of FF HQ.

  The Roscommon People understands that supporters of Deputy Eugene Murphy have vigorously made the case to party TDs and Senators (and the all-important HQ) that Cllr. Leyden is too close geographically to ‘their’ candidate. Representations to the contrary were of course made on behalf of Cllr. Leyden. There are reports of very tense exchanges between both camps.

  There is also speculation that the convention numbers may not have been adding up for Cllr. Leyden. Deputy Murphy retains significant support amongst delegates. If defeated at convention, Leyden may not have been added on, certainly not if Keogh is the darling of Dublin.

  Cllr. Leyden isn’t unique in withdrawing from an election race shortly after declaring, but the u-turn of January 2018 has taken many within her party by surprise.

  Public reaction to Cllr. Leyden’s declaration in October had suggested that, if she could get through convention, she was destined to poll very well. Getting on to the ballot paper was the challenge. Orla is regarded by many as the most capable member of Roscommon County Council, with an impressive grasp of her brief.

  To borrow/paraphrase football parlance, she may go down as one of the best TDs that Roscommon never had! (Of course a Senate run by Orla, post the retirement of her father, Terry, cannot be ruled out).

  Meanwhile, there is speculation that, irrespective of how he fares in an open vote at convention, Cllr. John Keogh can count on being added on by Fianna Fáil HQ. That, and much else, remains to be seen. Seán Óg Higgins and Cllr. Michael Connolly are still in the race, but as of now the odds favour a Murphy/Keogh FF ticket  in Roscommon/Galway.


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Roscommon students make their mark at Young Scientist Exhibition



Co. Roscommon was well represented at last week’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin. 23 projects were on display from schools across the county during the event which ran from Tuesday to Saturday.

  Local students took home a number of awards from this year’s exhibition while Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown teacher, Modwena Geoghegan was awarded the Perrigo Biological and Ecological Educator of the Excellence Award.

  Scoil Mhuire gan Smal student, Niamh Petrie, took first place in the Social and Behavioural Intermediate Individual award while Michael Lough was awarded third place in the same category. Elsewhere, there was recognition from the Veterinary Council of Ireland for Castlerea Community College student, Cora Sharkey.

  Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins was in attendance and she was impressed with the large number of Roscommon students taking part.

  “It was fantastic to see 23 projects from students right across Co. Roscommon on display at this year’s exhibition.

  “Those involved in the competition locally have put a huge amount of work into their projects over the past number of months. It was incredible to see and learn about the wide variety of projects students undertook.

  “The students are a credit to their families, schools, and communities, and are fantastic ambassadors for our county,” she said.

  Senator Hopkins also paid tribute to the county’s teachers and said it was very important to continue to encourage an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) due to employment opportunities in those sectors.

  Deputy Eugene Murphy, who also attended the BT Young Scientist exhibition at the RDS, has congratulated all local students who took part.

  “Congratulations to all the local award winners at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. Special Congratulations to Modwena Geoghegan from Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown who scooped the Perrigo Education of Excellence Award as part of the Teachers Awards at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.

  “The hard work, dedication and passion of teachers can sometimes go unrecognised but the commitment and drive of teachers is necessary to promote the STEM subjects and Modwena is certainly flying the flag for County Roscommon. Well done,” said Deputy Murphy.








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Anger at ordeal of patient (90) who was seven hours on trolley



Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy says a 90-year-old woman who had to spend seven hours on a trolley at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe could easily have been attended to in Roscommon Hospital.

  He says the episode is further evidence of  “a health system which is unfit for purpose”.

  Deputy Murphy said the woman was left waiting on a trolley for seven hours in  Ballinasloe following an x-ray for a minor fracture.

  “While the staff in Portiuncula were very kind to this lady, they are operating under very difficult circumstances and are under extreme pressure.

  “This 90-year-old lady was transferred from x-ray to the A&E where she was left waiting for seven hours on a trolley. Understandably she was very distressed until a family member was able to arrive”. 

  Deputy Murphy said the woman was

discharged with an appointment to attend Merlin Park the following day where she was given the all clear. 

  “The question is – did this lady really need to be sent to the A&E at all? This type of thing is adding to unnecessary stress and anxiety for older and more vulnerable people. These type of interventions should be able to be provided in Roscommon Hospital”.


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