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Connacht Tribune

Booze and coke drives up assaults across the county

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Sergeant Michael Walsh

Garda Crime Watch with Sergeant Michael Walsh

GALWAY’S active and vibrant social scene has undoubtedly led to its international success in winning the bid to host the European Capital of Culture 2020, as well as been recently acclaimed by the Lonely Planet website as the fourth best city in the world to visit. This is all brilliant news for the Galway tourist sector, and will bring a welcomed economic boost to all businesses.

However, international research has shown that the level of assaults can be associated with the vibrancy of the night time economy. Galway’s booming night life is not just limited to hen and stag parties at weekends, or the influx of tourists for the races or arts festival and other summer events.

The city for example accommodates over 25,000 third level students who add to this night-time economy on week nights. So, a city with such a contentious large-scale social scene is prone to having anti-social problems and assaults. The rate of assaults nationally has increased by about 50% over the past few years, but what’s more alarming is their unprovoked randomness and vicious nature.

So, why is this happening you might ask? Increased alcohol and drug abuse are a large factor in many of these night-time assaults. Cocaine and other related drugs are known to cause unpredictable behaviours in users, and coupled with copious amounts of alcohol create a recipe for disaster. Gardai witness this behaviour first hand any night of the week in our city and towns around the county.

Individuals or even groups of predominantly young males engage in pack-like behaviours and try to pick fights on other males or groups. I have personally stood outside nightclubs and fast food outlets in the early hours of the morning breaking up fights, and like many of my Garda colleagues, got assaulted in the process.

The presence of uniformed Gardai often does not deter such assaults, as some of these drug induced thugs will start a fight while under the watchful eye of Gardai. According to Alcohol Action Ireland, alcohol consumption in Ireland almost trebled over the past four decades, with 54% of Irish drinkers classified as harmful drinkers. It would seem that drinking to excess has become normalised and an acceptable practice, and the resulting anti-social behaviour is now almost become part of our culture.

An Garda Síochána recently launched its new Assaults in Public Reduction Strategy 2019 – 2021 in conjunction with our mission which is ‘Keeping People Safe’.  The five goals of this strategy are: (1) Protecting People and Communities; (2) Awareness and Education as a Crime Prevention Technique; (3) Policing Operational Efficiency; (4) Location Management by Working in Partnership; and (5) Offender Management.

As the Crime Prevention Officer my function is to create awareness and provide education around assaults. Our current national crime prevention campaign uses the tagline “Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” and I think we can all play a part in educating our younger generations to think about the repercussions, because after all one punch can kill. Education begins at home and alcohol awareness needs to be echoed through all facets of our society.

Galway is very fortunate to have been awarded the Purple Flag, which is an international accreditation awarded to cities and towns that meet a standard of excellence in managing the evening and night-time economy. I am delighted to work hand-in-hand with the city council and all the other stakeholders in trying to keep our streets and our people safe, but everyone can play their part.

My advice to any person out socialising is to remain streetwise. Crime can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and while not every culprit will get caught, every victim will suffer. The extent of your suffering or loss will depend on three things: namely your vulnerability; your environment; and your individual behaviour. You can reduce your vulnerability by limiting your alcohol intake and never, ever take illegal drugs.

Young people need to look out for one another and make sure they get home safely. Avoid walking alone; plan your route home; and make sure someone is tasked with checking you have arrived safely. Consider sharing your location on WhatsApp for example with a trusted friend who can monitor your position. When walking in public remain observant and walk in a confident and prompt manner, while keeping your phone and other valuable possessions out of sight.

Choose well lit locations and don’t engage with strangers and avoid confrontation. Trust your instincts: if something is not quite right, go to a safe place straight away. If you are the victim of crime or violence, report the matter to the Gardaí immediately: do not take it upon yourself to deal with the assailants.

For more information visit the Garda website at www.garda.ie or phone the free Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Connacht Tribune

Homemade Wimbledon is a different bale game!

Francis Farragher

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James Craughwell about to serve over the tape – and the sheep gates – to brother Christopher with mum, Anne, in the background. The family dog Prince is showing a keen interest in taking up the role of ‘ball boy’. The brollies on the deck chairs were actually purchased at the Wimbledon tournament that the Craughwells attended in 2017.

WIMBLEDON mightn’t be happening for the tennis professionals this year due to COVID-19 – but one North Galway family are planning their own version of the tournament.

The younger members of the Craughwell family in Menlough village have had a tradition over the years of lining out their own court on the silage slab that’s available for recreation purposes during the early weeks of the Summer.

The three sons of Jarlath and Anne Craughwell – Christopher, Shane and James – rarely missed the opportunity through the years to ‘get the silage slab ready’ for their own Wimbledon tournament.

“The dimensions of the silage slab are almost exactly the same as a tennis court [78 feet X 36 feet} so back the years we always organised our own games. When the silage was made, then that was always it for another year,” Christopher Craughwell told the Connacht Tribune.

As the lads grew older the summer tennis court hadn’t been used for a few years but in 2020 with the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, it seemed like a perfect time to bring it back.

“This year we took it a stage further. We used the sheep gates for the net with a line of white electric fence tape along the top so this is probably the best job we’ve ever made of it.

“The silage won’t be made for at least another month so were planning to stage our own family tournament over the coming weeks. With the weather so good, it’s been a great way to pass the time,” said Christopher.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

City Council houses Travellers in county

Declan Tierney

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Cllr Donagh Killilea.

Galway City Council will spend close to half a million euro to house a Traveller family – in a property well outside its own local authority boundary.

Instead the family of four, who previously lived on the Carrabrowne halting site, will be accommodated in the house at Kiltulla near Carnmore, which is deep in Galway County Council’s local government area.

The City Council is understood to have paid €388,000 for the property which will require another €50,000 to refurbish – leaving little change out of half a million euro.

Angry residents, who were unaware of the plan, have now organised a petition to City Council CEO Brendan McGrath to voice their objection to the move.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea believes that there is a bigger issue at stake – with Galway City Council acquiring property wherever they like.

And Senator Ollie Crowe said that he believed the City Council – of which he was a member up to his Seanad election – should be acquiring property within their own area and that this acquisition was ‘unprecedented’.

He said that it was his view that there would be nothing bought outside the city boundary and that the money spent on this property would refurbish a lot of the City Council’s housing stock that had fallen into a state of dilapidation.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Long drives still out of bounds for golfers

Declan Tierney

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Teeing off from the 12th tee at Galway Bay Golf Resort in Oranmore this week on the re-opening of golf courses around the country. There is nothing to suggest that any golfers travelled more than 5km to play in Oranmore. Photo: Keith Kelly.

This week’s relaxation of travel restrictions saw an exodus to the garden centres and the golf courses – but Gardaí have this week reiterated their warning to those planning to excede their five kilometre limit that they may find themselves in the heavy rough.

The first phase of a return to ‘normality’ went to plan, despite the early rush to newly reopened facilities. Even the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of furloughed golfers, who were on the first tee from daylight.

Time sheets for golf clubs across the county were choc-a-bloc as they opened their doors to members for the first time since the end of March – but many clubs privately admitted that more than half of those who played had travelled way beyond the 5k restriction.

That led Gardaí to warn that they will be mounting checkpoints and turning people back home – adding that the golf clubs themselves have a responsibility to advise members on the travel rules.

Tuam Sergeant Pat Hastings confirmed that Gardaí had the power under the Health Preservation and Protection Act 2020 to turn back individuals travelling more than 5k from their homes.

He warned that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with anyone who continually breached the regulations.

See the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops or available for delivery with your groceries. You can also order the paper from An Post at no additional charge – or purchase a digital edition on this website.

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