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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

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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