2018 IN REVIEW

Year in Review: Mum praises Portlaoise maternity ward, €8 million for Laois flood defences in January

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Kate and Gary O'Donnell with son Paddy on New Years Day 2018 at Portlaoise hospital with staff Sandra Hinchin, Ewra Wesolowska, Giulia Scalze & Emma Collins. 	Picture: Michael Scully.

Kate and Gary O'Donnell with son Paddy on New Years Day 2018 at Portlaoise hospital with staff Sandra Hinchin, Ewra Wesolowska, Giulia Scalze & Emma Collins. Picture: Michael Scully.

2018 in Laois began with baby joy at Portlaoise maternity unit for Kildare nurse Kate O'Donnell who praised the unit as “top notch” after welcoming baby Paddy to the world, the first born in Portlaoise in 2018.

Rural GAA clubs in Laois were told to “unite or die”. A report The O'Moore Rising: a new beginning for the GAA in Laois, urged the association to adapt to rural depopulation.

Portarlington mother Gillian Treacy, whose son Ciarán was killed by a drink driver, was appointed to the Road Safety Authority's board of directors.

She vowed to “bring a human approach” to the facts and figures.

“We know what is is like to be on the other side. It is a great legacy for Ciarán,” she said.

Ms Treacy was later named as the Leinster Express/Midlands Park Hotel/Gerry Browne Jewellers Person of the Month.

Almost 10,000 people in Laois dodged paying the correct amount of Local Property Tax, it was revelaed by the Revenue Commissioner. Over 30% of the 29,000 households in Laois paid a property tax in a band lower than the real value of their home.

It was “new words, same plan” for the HSE's strategy for Portlaoise hospital.

The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group pubished its seven hospital strategy at a launch without notifying the press.

The plan confirmed that the Medical Assessment Unit was to be be developed, which doctors in Portlaoise predict would replace 24.7 A&E cover.

The Portlaoise Hospital action committee secretary said that the Department of Health “holds the future of Portlaoise hospital in its hands”.

Now a year on, Minister Simon Harris is yet to make a decision on the HSE's action plan for Portlaoise hospital, which proposed replacing the A& E with the MAU and a minor injuries unit, and removing the ICU, paediatrics, maternity and most surgeries.
A red Massey Ferguson tractor was stolen from The Rock in Mountmellick. It was later recovered in county Clare, with the help of social media and CCTV tracking of the route used by Gardaí.

Laois GAA and the whole community of Ballylinan was devastated on January 21 by the accidental drowning of senior footballer Liam Kealy, 34, a married father of one, while on a stag weekend away in Cork.

“Liam 'Squeaks' Kealy has left a void that will be impossible to fill,” said his club St Joseph's.

His widow Ashling and friends held a memorial run on Liam's birthday last June in aid of Mallow Search & Rescue.

Flood defences in Mountmellick and Portarlington would cost up to €8 million, the Laois County Council CEO confirmed.

John Mulholland outlined plans agreed with the Office of Public Works for embankments and flood defence walls to cost €3m for Mountmellick and €5m for Port.

It cost €209k for the response and cleanup of the Mountmellick flood in November 2017.

The new Southern Circular extension in Portlaoise got €3.5m, to be largely complete in early 2019, with a promise it will relieve school traffic and take traffic out of town.