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Paul Healy

Paul Healy

People power wins




Breakthrough on Cootehall and Croghan junctions



It was the end of October…just over five weeks ago. Noel McTiernan had had enough. The local resident and businessman was reflecting the long-held concerns of many neighbours when he decided it was time for the community to try – again – to address a major road safety issue in the area.

  Noel decided to organise a public meeting. It was held in St. Michael’s GAA clubhouse and was attended by over 200 people. Up for discussion was the growing concern within the community over safety issues relating to two junctions, one a turn for Croghan and one for Cootehall (both on the N4).

  There was, Noel noted, a sense of “fear” in the room that night. Local residents have in fact been worried for a number of years. It’s very much a saga by now. There have been numerous accidents over the years…and ongoing fears that a fatality could happen at any time.

  Noel had gauged the public mood accurately. Now, people power kicked in. Over 1,200 people signed a petition, and there was a huge response to an online survey which called for feedback on accidents at either junction, whether previously reported or otherwise.

  After a characteristic fist-thumping speech at the meeting, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice set up a meeting between concerned parties and the TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland). It went ahead last Tuesday – and it went well. The TII gave a commitment to fund the provision of right-hand lanes at both the Cootehall and Croghan junctions. The work should be starting in early 2019.  

  I contacted Noel McTiernan to ask if this is what the local campaigners wanted.

  “Absolutely. We very much welcome this news, but we won’t be claiming a ‘victory’ until the work is actually done. But we’re very happy with how the meeting went”.

  Noel was anxious to thank committee colleagues for all their hard work in recent weeks. That committee rolled their sleeves up. People power indeed took over. Motorists who had been involved in accidents were spoken to. The online survey sought information not alone on accidents, but also on near-misses (Noel: “Every near-miss could have been a fatality”). Noel says what secured the TII funding commitment was the revelation about the volume of traffic on the road – and the research which detailed the amount of collisions there have been in recent years. He wishes to thank the committee members for their great work – namely Brian Lee, Mo Robertson, Michael Cryan, Niall Fallon, Paul Duignan and Sinead Flynn.

  Noel also acknowledged the very positive input of Eugene Dwyer (Senior Engineer) of Roscommon County Council. He was grateful too for the support of local politicians. 

  “We are thankful to all local politicians. There was genuine cross-party support. They were all behind us. I might just single out Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice for special mention. Michael said that he would arrange a meeting with the TII and he was good to his word”.

  Now, the TII has pledged funding. The local community will wait for delivery, and wait with confidence.

  “We won’t celebrate yet, but we’re very happy” says Noel. “This was people power in action – we have been living in fear for too long”.





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New Blood Sciences project and refurbished lab at Roscommon Hospital



The new Integrated Blood Sciences Project at the Laboratory in Roscommon University Hospital was officially opened on Monday last by Maurice Power, Group CEO Saolta University Health Care Group.

  The Blood Sciences Managed Service Contract is a major collaborative project between the Pathology Departments at Roscommon University Hospital, Galway University Hospital and Portiuncula University Hospital. This project will allow the laboratory in RUH undertake tests that would have previously gone to other hospital laboratories and reduces the length of time for patients test results.

  Commenting at the launch, Mary Garvey, General Manager, Roscommon University Hospital said: “We now have a managed service contract with Roche Diagnostics which has provided us with a full suite of new equipment for Haematology and Biochemistry services. 

  “Among the many benefits that this project brings is that the three laboratories in Roscommon, Portiuncula and Galway University Hospitals’ now use the same platforms for analysis which gives the opportunity for further co-operation between the hospitals.

  “This new facility will now allow us to continue to expand our test menu and radically improve the quality of service for clinicians and ultimately for our patients”.

  Maurice Power, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group said: “This project is another example of how hospitals within the Saolta Group can work together to provide a better service to our patients, improve efficiencies and achieve major cost savings. Roscommon University Hospital goes from strength to strength. The modernisation of the laboratory alongside the replacement of the x-ray equipment gives Roscommon University Hospital scope to further develop as a centre of excellence for diagnostics”.



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End of famous Doherty era as Rachel to bow out



By the time Rachel Doherty takes her bow and exits public life prior to next year’s local elections, the Doherty family from Cootehall will have completed a remarkable 64-year association with politics in Roscommon.

  This then, is very much the end of an era. Little wonder that Cllr. Rachel Doherty was emotional when she touched on this aspect of her decision during an interview on Shannonside Radio this week. Ms. Doherty, a councillor since 2004, has announced that she won’t be contesting next year’s elections. Cllr. Doherty knows that her decision to leave local politics at this point essentially represents an era ending. Often seen in the past as a potential General Election candidate for Fianna Fáil, it is fair to presume that she is also now closing the door on any such journey. She admitted as much in her radio interview. And neither is it on the cards that another member of the Doherty family will step in as Rachel prepares to step out.

  That Doherty name has loomed large on the Roscommon political landscape since as far back as the mid-1950s. Rachel’s grandfather, James Doherty, was elected to Roscommon County Council in 1955 and again in 1960 and ‘67. After the death of James Doherty, his son Sean (Rachel’s father) was elected to the Council (in 1974).

  Sean Doherty was a popular, sometimes controversial and always colourful politician. His career spanned over thirty years, up to his untimely death in 2005. Having started on Roscommon County Council, he rose up the political ladder, serving as a TD and Government Minister. He was also a Senator, at one point serving as Cathaoirleach.

  Rachel Doherty (daughter of Sean and Maura) was first elected to Roscommon County Council in 2004 (re-elected in 2009 and 2014). Her surprise decision – announced this week – not to go before convention for the 2019 local elections is a reflection on the growing pressure on councillors all over the country, a great many of whom are finding it increasingly difficult to balance political demands with their other work (and personal) commitments.

  Rachel Doherty has been an excellent councillor, easily one of the best to serve on Roscommon County Council over the past couple of decades. Always well briefed on issues, she approached politics with passion, energy and determination. She has been one of the more vocal councillors in the Chamber and one of the most impressive. A very experienced public representative, she will be a big loss to Fianna Fáil and to local politics. 



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MAU: No extra hours, but lots of extra services – Naughten



An attempt to have opening hours at the Medical Assessment Unit at Roscommon Hospital extended has run aground – but services will be expanded at the MAU.

  Deputy Denis Naughten says that he secured €750,000 “per year” to expand services at the MAU with a view to extending the opening hours there. However, Roscommon management has deemed it more beneficial at present to reform the service to provide an expanded model of care.

  Deputy Naughten says this expansion of services will be aimed at older people. Services for older people to stop them being admitted to hospital and allowing them to return to their homes quicker will be developed, he says, adding that there will also be additional staffing at the former A&E Unit.

  Deputy Naughten said: “Earlier this year I secured €750,000 per year to expand services at the Medical Assessment Unit at the hospital with a view to extending the opening hours. However on review by hospital management it was deemed more beneficial, at this stage, to reform the service to provide an expanded model of care ‘more relevant to our local population, particularly older people and GP services’ and which works within the constraints on the existing number of hospital beds”.

  The focus will be on preventing people from having to be admitted to hospital in the first place and also minimising length of time people need to spend in hospital.

  “This is the first significant investment at the Urgent Care Centre in Roscommon Hospital since the A&E closed in 2011 and forms part of a commitment which I secured in the Programme for Government,” said Denis Naughten.

  “This will mean focusing on providing not just urgent care but also preventative care to older patients and urgent outpatient care to medical patients over the age of 16”.

  Deputy Naughten said that the hospital is in the process of recruiting 15 additional staff including a consultant physician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech & language therapist, dietician, pharmacist, social worker and specialist nurses who will form a multidisciplinary ‘Frailty Team’. Additionally, a new consultant radiologist, radiographer and cardiac physiologist will allow the hospital to provide additional diagnostics.




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