Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


440 Galway people released from jail within hours




More than 440 Galway people brought to prison last year were released within hours – the vast majority of them were taken there in the first place after they failed to pay fines imposed on them by the courts.

The figures from the Irish Prison Service were obtained by Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish.

He said they showed how overdue were measures to end what he called this ’ridiculous merry-go-round’.

“These figures clearly suggest that some people have been just laughing in the face of the criminal justice system, refusing to pay fines in the knowledge that as soon as they arrive in prison they will be let out again immediately.

“More than two out of three Galway people brought to prison end up there because they haven’t paid fines — with almost all of them released within hours and sent home,” said Deputy Grealish.

New legislation which came into force last week means that people who fail to pay fines will no longer be sent to prison, except as a last resort.

The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 allows courts to have unpaid fines deducted from earnings or appoint a receiver to recover the money, with those who still default required to undertake community service.

Deputy Grealish had tabled a Parliamentary Question seeking information on the number of people from Galway who were released after being processed the same day they were brought to prison, or the next day.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that while figures were not available for 2015, the total number of people with Galway addresses sentenced to jail in 2014 was 592 — and 441 of them were released within hours.

“It should be noted that 437 or 99.1% of those released were serving a Fines sentence.

“Each committal on a fine is considered for temporary release by the Irish Prison Service on a case by case basis. In the majority of cases temporary release is granted within a number of hours.

“However, for serial offenders or for certain offences, ie Income tax, those prisoners may remain in custody to serve all or a portion of the sentence,” said Minister Fitzgerald.

Deputy Grealish said that it was clearly a waste of time and resources bringing most people to prison for non-payment of fines and he was glad this was about to end.

“These people are usually brought to prison by two Gardaí, who have their whole day taken up by this ridiculous merry-go-round, when most of those they are transporting to jail are likely to be released the same day.

“Some of these people treat the whole process as a joke — they are being fined in court for theft, assault, drugs offences or whatever, and then refusing to pay because they know they will never serve time. So they get off scot free.

“I’m glad that they will now pay a real penalty — and the new legislation removes the awful trauma of being brought to jail for some genuine people who for one reason or another have not paid their fines,” added Deputy Grealish.

Of the 441 Galway residents released within hours of being brought to prison, most (328) had been brought to Castlerea Prison, 82 were processed at Mountjoy Female, with the remainder processed at Limerick Male (12), Cork (5), Midlands (5) Mountjoy Male (4), Limerick Female (3) and Wheatfield (2).


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Continue Reading


Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Continue Reading


Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads