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The Irish Health Service Executive launched its annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign on Monday. A nurse is pictured giving a pregnant mother a vaccine as her young son looks on. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod this week

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The Irish Health Service Executive launched its annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign on Monday. A nurse is pictured giving a pregnant mother a vaccine as her young son looks on. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Blow to Galway Airport

THE future of Galway Airport is in doubt after Aer Arann announced last week that it is pulling its winter schedule from the Carnmore facility.
While management at the airport says it is not closing down, Aer Arann’s withdrawal means a serious downgrading of the airport, which will now have no commercial scheduled passenger flights for the next six months.
It also means that approximately 40 direct employees of the airport including check-in staff, security personnel, bar and retail staff, air traffic controllers and administration staff will lose their jobs.
“Aer Arann Regional and Galway Airport have been working closely together to explore all commercial options in an environment where passenger numbers and revenue have continued to decline. However, despite the best endeavors of both airline and airport, bookings have continued to deteriorate and all routes are projected to be loss-making during the thinner winter season when bookings are historically lower,” a statement from Aer Arann said.
Aer Arann’s chief executive Paul Schütz said that the announcement is necessary due to a number of factors that are outside the control of the airline.
“A number of issues have combined to bring about this decision but the biggest driver is the economy, which has led to fewer people travelling and a significant reduction in fare revenues, which is being experienced by regional airlines all over Europe,” he added.
Both Galway Airport and Aer Arann have confirmed the companies will continue to work together with a view to re-launching the Aer Arann services during the 2012 summer season.

Clare Champion

Smart Cabs

OVER 30 city taxi drivers recently signed up to be part of a pilot scheme aimed at giving members of the public the ability to confirm the identity of a taxi driver using their smartphone.
The pilot, TrustiD Taxi system, is due to run for four to six weeks, and many taxi companies around the city have shown major interest in the idea. The technology has been developed by Global Business Register Ltd. (GBR) which is based at ArcLabs Research Center in Carriganore, Co. Waterford.
Chief Executive Ben Cronin said that by using this software, a member of the public could quickly and easily identify the taxi driver and car by scanning the highly visible barcode displayed on the taxi’s rear windows with a mobile phone.
When a member of the public scans one of the barcodes they will receive the verified identity of the licensed taxi driver and vehicle back to their phone.
The app is available for free through the iPhone app store or Android marketplace.   Cronin said with the app there is now a way of verifying the taxi driver and car which will remove the fear of getting into a taxi for the customer, and, hopefully improve custom for the driver.
Eric O’Brien, manager of Rapid Cabs, one of the taxi companies taking part in the pilot, said if the app is officially launched it will increase people’s trust in the taxi industry and put an end to unlicensed taxis operating in the city.
“It will eliminate those who are unregulated and do not have the required licensing, and would get people using more licensed taxis,” he said.

Waterford News & Star

Cancer Treatment in U.S.
FAMILY and friends of a courageous young Southsider who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer are raising funds to send the teenager to a U.S. clinic in a bid to save his life.
Last Christmas Sean Lyne, 19, from Crumlin, began to have problems with his vision. By the end of March he was diagnosed with a brain stem glioma astrocytoma, which is a very serious and inoperable aggressive cancer.
However, brave Sean, who had been studying nursing at the Inchicore College of Further Education and had planned to complete his degree in England, did not let the debilitating disease get in the way of his career goal.
He took his final exams on the morning that he began chemotherapy and radiation.
Every morning he sat his exams and in the afternoon he received his treatment.
His mother, Moira, is a trained nurse who worked at Tallaght Hospital before she started caring for Sean full time.
She explained how the disease suddenly impacted her son and how he has been treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and steroids.
“Around Christmas he started seeing lights,” she recalled. “And then in January he dropped his weights in the gym and he found that his left side was very weak. In March the doctor sent him to the hospital to make sure his eyes were okay, and it was in the eye and ear hospital on March 28 that we were told that he had the brain tumor.
“He had an operation and had to wait four or five weeks to let the incision heal. Then he started the radiation and chemotherapy. He would do his exams in the morning and go in for chemo in the afternoon.
“It has affected his whole left side including his legs and his arms. After he had the radiation treatment of 30 doses a month he got what you call brain necrosis and his brain became swollen. That affected his left so much he couldn't walk and we had to get a wheelchair for him.”
Despite these extraordinary challenges, Moira said Sean has since passed his FETAC course with flying colors and received his diploma last week.
“Sean is a very kind person and would help anyone out,” she added. “I have heard such nice stories about him since we have been doing this fundraising that I feel very proud to be his mother.”
The Lyne family is now trying to raise the 120,000 needed to send Sean to a hospital in Houston, Texas where they are developing treatment for his particular condition.
“There are three phases of clinical trials,” Moira explained. “Right now they are at phase two and they are ready to go into phase three when they have the money.
“I think about 40% of the results that they have had have been positive. In order to get into the trials in the first place you have to have had the radiation and tried chemotherapy.
“All the documentation has been given over and we have sent a sample of his brain to the Life Sciences Institute in America. We are hoping that Sean will start his treatment at the clinic in February.”
A number of fundraising initiatives are underway. To contact Moira Lyne email marylyne@eircom.net.

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