Army called to help families in south Galway

Galway County Council closes roads and offers assistance to home-owners in the area

Western and southern counties have experienced serious flooding in recent weeks. This undated handout photo issued by Defence Forces Ireland of flooding along the river Shannon near Ballinalose. File photorgaph: Defence Forces Ireland/PA Wire

Western and southern counties have experienced serious flooding in recent weeks. This undated handout photo issued by Defence Forces Ireland of flooding along the river Shannon near Ballinalose. File photorgaph: Defence Forces Ireland/PA Wire

 

Galway County Council has requested help from the Defence Forces to assist five families who are struggling to access their homes in the Ardrahan area in the south of the county.

South Galway is experiencing some of its worst flooding since 2009, with no immediate relief from the weather in sight. Approximately 20 roads are closed due to flooding and storm damage in the area.

The request for assistance from the military was made by the council at lunchtime because access roads to the houses in question are being coming impassable. It is understood that the houses are not in danger of flooding and it is not clear if the residents will have to leave their homes.

Galway County Council has closed roads and offered assistance to home-owners in more seriously flooded parts of the area, which is a limestone and turlough-rich region between the Slieve Aughty mountains and the coast.

Areas affected include parts of Peterswell, Ardrahan and Kilcolgan. Details of road closures are on the Galway County Council website, galway.ie

Storm damage to medical buildings is being “reviewed”, and repairs undertaken to the University Hospital Galway (UHG) acute psychiatric unit, according to HSE West.

Independent county councillor Tim Broderick has said that water “flooded through the roof” of UHG’s psychiatric unit during the storm on Wednesday, forcing four beds to be vacated.

Councillor Broderick, who is opposed to the HSE West plan to transfer psychiatric services from St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe into UHG, said that conditions in UHG were “third world” and called on Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch to come and see for herself.

However, HSE West said yesterday that a “minimal repair” was undertaken on Wednesday to the UHG psychiatric unit’s roof, with a “single water drop affecting one location” occurring only with a “specific wind direction.

Patients would not be affected by the repair, and the unit had the capacity to “safely provide services to all of the patients who are currently being treated”, it said.

HSE West also said that there were “extensive leaking” from windows in St Brigids Hospital in Ballinasloe, and this would be “repaired shortly”.

It said that the first sod would be turned shortly on a “state of the art purpose-built acute psychiatry unit” in GUH with 50 beds, including “speciality beds and mother and baby facilities” as part of a “reconfiguration of mental health facilities” in Galway and Roscommon, costing 2.6 million euro.

Last month, former Galway mayor Catherine Connolly (Ind) added her voice to criticism of the HSE West decision to close down a new 22-bed facility in Ballinasloe as part of the reconfiguration.

Cllr Connolly, who said she believed the decision “defied logic”, met Minister of State Lynch in Dublin last month to express her concerns as part of a delegation including Cllr Broderick.

Cllr Broderick yesterday criticised the HSE West’s insistence that all new patients from the Ballinasloe area must attend the Galway city psychiatric unit through the accident and emergency unit, particularly at a time of increased pressure on the emergency department in recent weeks.

The “full capacity protocol” has been invoked at the accident and emergency unit, and an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug has added to the pressure. HSE West has appealed to the public not to visit the hospital unless absolutely necessary.