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Connacht Tribune

Artist convinces judge she did not intend to drink drive



A Canadian artist convinced a judge that she was sleeping the night in her car with a beau she met at the Clifden Arts Festival, rather than about to drive home when caught with the engine running.

A native of Quebec, Delphine Schofield Veronneau was doing a home exchange at Oyster Cove, Kilkerrin, Carna, while living as an artist in residence.

On patrol after 3am on September 24 was Sergeant Edward Cronin, who told Clifden District Court that when he drove into the public carpark in Clifden he spotted the lights shining on the first car he saw.

There was a woman in the driver’s seat with her two hands placed on the steering wheel, with the keys in the ignition, engine running and the fan turned on. There was a man in the passenger seat and both were sitting upright.

He asked the 33-year-old if she had consumed alcohol and she replied that she had three pints. He brought her to Clifden Garda Station on suspicion of being drunk in charge. She later gave a reading of 46mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath – more than double the legal limit.

Sergeant Cronin said he had done a sweep of the carpark just a little earlier and there was nobody occupying any of the six cars.

Schofield Veronneau began her evidence with a direct plea to Judge Mary Fahy. “I would never drink and drive. I just wouldn’t do it.”

She went on to recall that she was in town to attend the Clifden Arts Festival and intended to stay with a friend who worked in Mullarkey’s Pub after enjoying a few drinks.

She was going to walk to that friend’s place but she then met a man. She decided to sleep instead in her car where her new friend joined her.

There they passed an hour or so.

“I was sick at one stage…we kissed…at some stage I decided to turn on the car for the heat. I had no idea it was illegal. The second I turned on the car the police arrived. There was no intention except heating the car…in no second that night did I intend to drive the car,” she told the court.

She was asked by the prosecutor why she cleared the screen with the fan or had put on the lights if she did not intend to drive.

Schofield Veronneau replied that it was automatic in the car she was driving for the fan and lights to be switched on once the key was turned.

Judge Fahy asked if she really intended to sleep in a car all night.

She replied that she did. After being processed in the Garda station she had returned to her car to sleep for the rest of the night.

“Where did this male friend go?” asked Judge Fahy. “I don’t know,” replied the defendant.

“He was no gentleman,” the District Judge retorted.

Judge Fahy said she was going to dismiss the charge of being drunk in charge.

“I’m sort of suspicious but at the same time I have a doubt. She has raised doubts in my mind that she’s not somebody who foolishly drinks and drives.”`

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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