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Angry victim ‘left in fear’ after late-night homophobic attack



Zerhanah, an NUIG law and taxation student, identifies as non-binary

A non-binary person has told of being afraid of walking the city’s streets after suffering physically and emotionally in an apparent homophobic incident a week after Galway Gay Pride.

Zerhanah, a bisexual who does not identify as exclusively male or female, recalled being thrown to the ground when coming to the aid of a friend who was allegedly punched several times during a late night attack at Spanish Arch.

The Dubliner who lives in Galway said it was a reminder that despite great societal and legislative changes, homophobia was ‘still a thing’.

“Most queer people have had things shouted at them on the street. I’ve had my fair share of things shouted at me – faggot, dyke, you name it I’ve been called it but I’ve never been physically attacked for it before and obviously it was terrifying,” the 19-year-old told the Galway City Tribune.

“It did shock me; the reality that I’m living somewhere you can’t just go outside and be yourself, be openly queer and expect to feel safe. You can’t brush it off. It’s scary leaving the house because I don’t know if this will happen again. A lot of people think this wouldn’t happen, that we’ve moved past that, but the issue is we really haven’t.”

In a post on Twitter following the incident, Zerhanah said: “Thank u random men in Galway for punching my friend, throwing me into the ground, spraining my leg and calling us faggots just for dancing and having a nice time at Spanish Arch. I will report you and I will get you done for this.”

In a post the following day, Zerhanah thanked people for the support. “Just wanted to say thank u to everyone sending me love and support right now. I’m home from hospital and in a lot of pain and emotional from what happened but I’ll b okay and ily (I love you) all. There are some proper assholes out there so everyone please stay safe,” the tweet said.

The NUIG law and taxation student, who uses the pronoun ‘they’ rather than he or she, recounted the events of the night to this newspaper.

“We were having a few drinks at Spanish Arch and suddenly the word ‘faggot’ was being thrown around. We were a group of very obviously queer people; five or six very outwardly queer presenting. There was a group of about 10 lads there too.

“Two of my friends were up dancing and the word ‘faggot’ was being thrown around by the group of lads. We didn’t know if it was directed at us or not but my friend turned around, and said ‘what are you saying?’ He then started to be punched and got about six punches to the face. I ran over to try pull him away. As soon as I stood up to pull him away I was thrown onto the ground by one of them. The word ‘faggot’ was still being thrown around, I could hear it being shouted at me. I went over on my ankle; couldn’t stand up, couldn’t walk. I was basically on the ground wailing for help,” said Zerhanah.

An ambulance arrived and the People Before Profit political activist gave a statement on the night to Gardaí but did not make an official complaint when contacted days later by a Garda, who confirmed there was no CCTV footage of the incident.

“My friend is fine, his jaw was quite sore after it but there was no bruising. He knows self-defence so he managed to get out of it. Unfortunately I took the brunt of the soreness. I’m still not properly able to walk without the crutch at times,” Zerhanah said.

A Garda spokesperson said: “We don’t have a report of an assault in the Spanish Arch area over the weekend (Thursday, August 19, to Sunday, 22).”

Former Mayor, Councillor Niall McNelis (Labour), Chair of Galway City Joint Policing Committee, said in general, Galway was a safe place to live and socialise but assaults were increasing.

“I would hope and pray that it wasn’t a homophobic assault. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t be in Galway because it is a safe city, and an open city. If it was then we have a problem.

“I wouldn’t like the message to go out that Galway is not safe, because generally it is. But yes, recently we have had problems with assaults, and they are increasing and we have to ask is that because we are socialising outdoors, or because of the level of alcohol or because of large congregations in places like Eyre Square. People will be sending their teenagers to Galway now with college starting back. I would say to them that Galway is safe,” said Cllr McNelis.

Gay Pride was held in the city from August 8 to 15. Its chair, city councillor Owen Hanley, spoke about negativity towards the LGBT+ community, after the rainbow flag was stolen during the festival.


Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction



Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags



Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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.

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