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Connacht Tribune

Anti-vaxxer’s day of court drama



Antonio Mureddu.

By Ann Healy

An anti-vaccination campaigner was convicted and fined a total of €450 last week for breaching Covid-19 regulations after he drove more than five kilometres from his address at a time when temporary travel restrictions were in place earlier this year – and also for speeding on the same occasion.

Antonio Mureddu (44), with an address at The Headford Arms, Main Street, Headford, said he would not look for €50,000 compensation from the State for being prosecuted if the charges against him were dropped.

He also refused to accept the court’s jurisdiction and threatened to personally sue the Garda who prosecuted him.

Mureddu donned a purple, floor-length velvet cloak tied at the neck over his overcoat and pulled the pink tie he was wearing to the outside of the overcoat before entering the courtroom at Galway District Court yesterday afternoon.

He was accompanied by a woman who did wear a mask.

Mureddu faced two summonses. The first was for speeding and the second was for breaching Covid-19 regulations by leaving his place of residence without reasonable excuse after his vehicle was stopped by Garda Garrett Cafferkey at Coolagh, Oranmore, Galway, on April 10 last.

Judge John Brennan asked Mr Mureddu in the morning to wait outside until his case was called at the end of the criminal list as he was not wearing a face mask.

When the matter was called in the afternoon, Mureddu indicated he was contesting the matters.

Garda Garrett Cafferkey gave evidence he was conducting a speed check at Glenascaul, Oranmore at 1.55pm on April 10 when he detected a Corsa travelling at 134kmh in a 100kmh zone.

He followed the car in his marked patrol car and stopped it at Coolagh, Oranmore.

He spoke to the accused, who was driving the car. He said Mureddu refused to show him his driving licence until he showed him his Garda ID, which he did. Mureddu then produced a full driving licence to him.

Garda Cafferkey said the Covid five-kilometre travel limit was in force at the time and he demanded to know where the driver was going and where had he had come from.

He said Mureddu refused to tell him. He said he outlined the regulations that were in place for non-essential travel to Mureddu.

“He wouldn’t tell me. I told him I would issue a speeding ticket and he said he would accept the speeding ticket.

“I also told him a fixed charge penalty notice for breaching Covid regulations would be issued if he didn’t inform me of the reasons for his journey, to see if it was essential.

“Mr Mureddu then said to me ‘I will bring you to the Supreme Court. It will cost you money and your job, I swear to you.’ He said he could go wherever be wanted,” the Garda said.

He later issued two fixed charge penalty notices – and neither were paid, he said.

In reply to Inspector Finbarr Philpott, prosecuting, Garda Cafferkey said he was in uniform and driving a marked patrol car that day.

He said he received registered correspondence from the accused last Tuesday which contained a number of documents.  The first document was a contract in red lettering.

“A purported contract,” Judge Brennan interjected. Garda Cafferkey agreed.

He said the document contained a number of points.

The first stated “Any man or woman acting as an agent for the Irish State who wishes to interfere with my God-given right to travel peacefully, he or she agrees to pay me €50,000.”

The next document contained the terms and conditions for entering into this contract, followed by copies of ’Living Testimony’ which was an affidavit, with a picture of Mureddu on it, in English and Irish.

The correspondence also contained copies of the tickets issued by Garda Cafferkey.

Another document was written in Italian, which Garda Cafferkey said he did not understand, while another document outlined copyright laws.

Judge Brennan remarked the same documents had been handed into the court by Mureddu.

He had been handed an additional document, he said, which was a notice challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Mureddu said he had sent copies of the same documents to the Supreme Court, the Garda Commissioner and to all the authorities in the country, so that everyone would know he was acting in honour.

“I am not committing any crime. I didn’t create any injury or any problems to anybody in my travelling,” he said.

“And you’re demanding money from the State; you’re demanding compensation?” Judge Brennan asked.

Mureddu said he would not be demanding compensation if the case against him was dismissed.

He confirmed to the judge he was Italian and that he was not giving jurisdiction to anybody in the room to judge him.

Judge Brennan said he appreciated there was a constitutional right to liberty, but the State had to deal with a very difficult situation due to the pandemic where emergency regulations had to be introduced to protect society and they were only temporary and would be removed in due course.

He told Mureddu, that having read his documents and listened to his submissions, he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the State had proven its case and he was convicting him.

Insp. Philpott said Mureddu had two previous convictions, including a speeding conviction recorded in January 2019, for which he was fined €500, and in 2011 he was convicted of dangerous driving at Galway Circuit Court.

Mureddu interjected Garda Cafferkey was ‘playing God’.

In reply to the judge, Mureddu confirmed he was unemployed, paying rent and in receipt of social welfare.

Judge Brennan said he knew Mureddu felt strongly about these matters before convicting and fining him €150 for this, his second speeding offence.

He then imposed a €300 for breaching the temporary Covid regulation in place at the time, which he said reflected the serious nature of the offence.

He gave Mureddu six months to pay both fines as he was unemployed and granted him leave to appeal the convictions.


Connacht Tribune

Social media ban for revenge porn accused



A 26-year-old man has been barred from using all social media platforms since being charged with harassing his former girlfriend by allegedly posting sexually explicit photos of her online along with links to her Snapchat account.

It is the first prosecution of its type relating to image-based abuse, more commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’ to come before the courts in Galway.

Judge Mary Fahy imposed restrictions, prohibiting the publication of the man’s identity when he was first brought in custody before Galway District Court last October.

This week, she asked Sergeant Christy Burke, prosecuting, why had she imposed the restrictions at the time. He reminded her she had imposed the restrictions then as the case involved sexually explicit material.

Garda Paraic Moran gave evidence in October of having arrested and charged the man with harassing his former girlfriend on a date unknown between August 1, 2015 and July 10, 2019, contrary to Section 10 (1) and (6) of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

The accused made no reply when the charge was put to him at the time.

The Director of Public Prosecutions directed the charge could only be dealt with at District Court level if the man entered a guilty plea.

Judge Fahy asked Garda Moran for an outline of the allegations made against the accused so she could decide on whether or not to deal with the case in her court should he plead guilty.

Garda Moran said the man had been in a relationship with the complainant and it was alleged that sometime after they broke up, she was contacted by a couple whom she didn’t know, inviting her to meet them for sex.

As a result of this encounter, the woman discovered intimate photographs of her were circulating on the internet.

She had sent the photos to the accused when they were together and it was alleged, Garda Moran said, that after the relationship ended the accused uploaded the photos to the internet on several occasions with links to the complainant’s Facebook Snapchat account.

Judge Fahy accepted jurisdiction in October to hear the case in her court and she made an order for prosecution statements to be sent to defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin’s office and for the accused to come to court this week and elect to either plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.

Sgt Browne informed the court this week the statements had inadvertently not yet been sent to Mr Gilmartin but they would be now.

Judge Fahy remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear back before the court in March and elect then whether he wanted to plead guilty or not guilty.

Bail was granted in October subject to conditions sought by Gardai that he have no contact with the complainant or any witnesses, by any means to include social media; continue to reside at his rental address in the city and notify Gardai of any change of address within 48 hours; sign on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Garda HQ at Murrough, Renmore; observe a nightly curfew between 10p.m. and 6a.m.; be of good behaviour and remain of sober habits; and provide a mobile phone number to Gardai and answer his phone to them at all times.

Judge Fahy added a further condition at  the time prohibiting the man from accessing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and all other social media platforms, pending completion of the case.

She awarded him free legal aid and also advised him that if he broke any of the bail conditions it was likely he would end up in custody, due to the seriousness of the charge he was facing.


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Connacht Tribune

Help at hand for smokers with resolve!



The HSE has launched their annual free programme to help smokers at the start of the new year to try to kick the habit as research shows that 70% of smokers want to give up for good.

With packets of cigarettes now retailing at €15 a pop, there has never been a better time to quit – even if health reasons are not a consideration.

But the impact on health should help make that decision even more urgent, according to the Irish Cancer Society.

The HSE has found that half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. In 2015 records show that 5,950 people died as a direct result of smoking, with an additional 100 deaths thought to be the result of exposure to second-hand smoke.

The benefits of become a non-smoker quickly become apparent. The US Surgeon General’s Office insists that after 72 hours of quitting, breathing becomes easier as the bronchial tubes relax and energy levels increase.

After a fortnight circulation improves, making walking and exercise easier. After three to nine months: coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing are reduced dramatically. After five years the risk of heart attack falls to that of a non-smoker while after a decade the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

“The first thing is to realise that quitting smoking is a process, and it is important to understand where you fit in the process or ‘cycle’ of change,” said a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society.

“You need to plan when and how you’re going to quit. If you can get through the first 30 days without cigarettes, you’ll have gone a long way towards kicking the habit.”

The Quit Smoking West Service offers six free sessions with a HSE Stop Smoking Advisor. This therapist will explore habits and any concerns you have about stopping smoking. They will assess your level of smoking addiction, provide support to deal with challenges and discuss stop smoking medications.

“We know that quitting can be extremely difficult. But by working with us, we will support you to develop a plan to help you to cope with withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and provide you with motivational tips to help keep you on track,” a spokesperson for the service explained.

Call Quit Smoking West on (091) 737262 or email for the free, confidential support and advice.

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Connacht Tribune

Gort set for transformation under regeneration plans



Gort...set for major revitalisation.

The revitalisation of the town of Gort received another major shot in the arm last week when it was one of 27 landmark projects to share in the latest €21.5 million Rural Regeneration Development Fund.

The Gort Inse Guaire project received €798,000 towards the re-design of the Market Square and town centre streets, as well as reinvigorating the Canon Quinn Park greenspace in the town centre.

The Gorgeous Gort Forum – the representative body for all local community groups, clubs and organisations which drove this application – welcomed ‘the wonderful news’.

“We thank the Minister for approving funding for our town, and all the team in Galway County Council who we supported in developing and submitting this application and the local representatives who supported this application.

“We also thank the over 40 organisations, clubs and groups in our community, who we represent, that provided invaluable letters of support’, said Gorgeous Gort Forum chairperson Justin McDermott.

The Forum supported Galway County Council in the development and submission of this application.  This included organising letters of support from over 40 various clubs, organisations, and groups in Gort which they represent.

The group also facilitated meetings between Galway County Council and key community stakeholders, and worked with local elected representatives, including Minister Anne Rabbitte, Sean Canny TD, Ciaran Cannon TD and local councillors including Joe Byrne, PJ Murphy, and Geraldine Donoghue, to lobby the minister on behalf of the community.

The news was warmly welcomed from all fronts, with local TD Ciaran Cannon describing it as an ambitious investment in Gort, building on a very strong community spirit in the town.

And his fellow Galway East TD Sean Canney particularly welcomed the work on Canon Quinn Park, which he described as ‘an underutilised yet vital greenspace within the centre of the town’.

“In order to capitalise on this invaluable resource, the park requires diversification and redesign to improve usages, discourage anti-social behaviour and provide a green lung for the town centre,” he said.

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