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CITY TRIBUNE

Armed teen burglar (16) gets prison term reprieve

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A 16-year-old boy has been given a suspended four-year sentence after being caught red-handed breaking into a house with another burglar while armed with a hunting knife and a hatchet.

The teenager, who was in the care of the HSE at the time of the offences, was brought before Galway Circuit Criminal Court for sentence.

Both he and his co-accused, Dominic Downes (21), 3 Doire Beag, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at a house in Hazel Park, Newcastle, on September 24 last year in that they trespassed at the house with intent to commit theft, and at the time had with them a large hunting knife and a hatchet.

The pair also pleaded guilty to the theft of a Stanley Wonder Bar and a Stanley Axe, total value €60, from Woodie’s DIY, Galway Retail Park on September 23 last year.

Judge Rory McCabe adjourned sentence in Downes’ case to July and directed the preparation of a victim impact statement and a probation report on Downes prior to that date.

Garda Conor Barrett told the juvenile’s sentence hearing that he and other Gardai from Galway and Salthill Stations responded to a 999 call of a burglary in progress at a man’s home in Hazel Park at 1.55am on September 24 last year.

He and Garda Robert Molloy climbed into the garden at the rear of the property where they spotted the juvenile coming out through a rear window while Downes had an implement in his hand.

The pair ran and were chased by Garda Barrett and his colleague over a number of garden walls. The youth dropped a bag containing property stolen from the house.

Both were caught and arrested.  Downes was found in possession of the large hunting knife.

Both Gardaí went back to the house where they met with the man who had made the 999 call.

He was in his underpants and was holding a kitchen knife.  He was in shock and was visibly shaking.

A hatchet, left behind by the burglars, was located under the window in the man’s bedroom.

CCTV from Woodie’s captured the two accused entering the store the day before and stealing a hatchet and a jimmy bar, which were both used in the burglary.

Garda Barrett read the man’s victim impact statement into evidence. The man said he had been woken around 2am by tapping on his bedroom window.  He realised someone was trying to open the window from the outside and he ran to the kitchen to find something with which to defend himself.

He ran upstairs and crouched down on the landing while at the same time dialling the emergency services for help.

He could hear voices in his bedroom downstairs while he was talking to the operator on his phone.  He hid behind the bannisters and luckily, he said, the Gardaí arrived very quickly.

He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had to take two weeks off work. He had nightmares for weeks and could not be on his own in the house. He moved house and said he had suffered a huge financial loss.

Garda Barrett said the juvenile had four previous convictions for robbery, theft, assault and breaching the peace and had served a five- month period of detention last year for those.

Judge Rory McCabe said the teenager was entitled to credit for his early plea, his co-operation with Gardai and for the fact he was not the principal motivator in the crime.

He accepted the youth had taken “significant steps” to change his life around while in custody. “If he has to have any chance of leaving his past behind him, it’s obvious he needs to be trained and educated to enter the workforce and live a life without crime, drink and drugs,” Judge McCabe said.

He then said the appropriate sentence was four years, suspended for six years on condition the youth be of good behaviour for that period.  He also placed the youth under the supervision of the probation service for the next 24 months.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’

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From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.


The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees

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From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours

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From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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