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App helps save Galway climbers’ lives

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Members of the Galway Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) used a ground-breaking new smartphone application to rescue three climbers who got into difficulty on a Connemara mountain last weekend.

Rescuers were able to pinpoint the location of the three mountaineers using the mobile phone application after they lost their bearings in the Maumturk Mountains shortly before 11pm last Sunday night.

The app allowed the rescuers from Galway to determine the exact location of the climbers and bring them to safety with the use of powerful search lights.

Gardai alerted the members of the Galway MRT after the three climbers benighted on rough terrain near Loch Mam Ochoige.

Using the SarLoc application, the MRT members were able to determine exactly where the climbers were on the map – they urged them to stay in the same place until the rescuers arrived.

By sending a simple text message which included a web link to one of the missing climbers’ phones, the rescuers were able determine exactly where they were with a margin of error of just 100 metres.

“It can take a tremendous effort to determine the exact location of a missing mountaineer, especially late at night,” said Alan Carr of the Galway Mountain Rescue Team.

“This ground-breaking phone app eliminates hours of searching, increases our efficiency, and reduces response times. The climbers did the right thing. They contacted us and then stayed in the same place until we arrived.”

SarLoc was developed by a veteran mountain rescuer in the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, Ross Hore, who has made it available to rescue teams across Britain and Ireland.

When a person is lost, stranded, or injured in the mountains, they can use their mobile phone to call for help. The rescuers then send a text message with a special link.

Once the person clicks on the link, activating the GPS in their phone, the rescuers can determine exactly where they are on an electronic map.

The person involved has to have mobile phone coverage, which is not always available in the Connemara mountains, and a smartphone.

Mr Carr said it was important to stress that people should never go mountaineering without a compass and paper map. He said GPS enabled devices were no substitute for navigation and survival skills.

“We would have to stress that it is not ok to just go out with a smartphone and rely on this app for safety,” he said.

“In this case, we managed to reach these people, determine a safe route, and bring them to safety by 3am. They were not hurt and we were able to bring them back to their cars.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

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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