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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

Staying safe and secure during the festive season

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Sergeant Michael Walsh

Garda Crime Watch with Sergeant Michael Walsh

WE are heading into one of the busiest times of the year in terms of shopping and travel but it’s also a time when everyone must stay vigilant and alert as regards crime, theft and scams. Staying safe too on our roads over the holiday period has to be a top priority – here are 12 tips that will help you to enjoy a safer, more secure and happier Christmas.

  1. Christmas shoppers are advised not to leave purchases unattended in their cars as we see a spike in thefts from cars, especially during peak shopping times which is 2pm to 9pm. Lock your car and don’t leave any valuables on display. We also see an increase in thefts from the person as opportunistic thieves may seize the chance to steal a purse/wallet/keys/handbag while a shopper is distracted. Don’t make it easy for the criminal, keep cash and other valuable items in an inside secure pocket or other secure location.
  2. Lock-Up & Light-Up is the key message in An Garda Síochána’s anti-burglary awareness campaign which encourages homeowners to protect their homes over the winter months, when burglaries traditionally tend to rise. Check your outdoor lights all work properly, and consider using a timer switch to bring on an internal light when you’re not home.
  3. Online fraud and cybercrime is prevalent all year round, but with increased on-line shopping on the run-up to Christmas ensure you are safe. Never buy anything online from an un-encrypted website. You’ll know if a site is secure because it will start with HTTPS, instead of just HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock will also appear, typically to the left of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Pay using a credit card as it will have more protection.
  4. As the weather turns colder, check on older or vulnerable people who may be living alone. Dropping in to say hello or a quick phone call to make sure everything is okay will always be welcome. Snow and ice can often be a problem as many may not be able to get out to buy food, fuel or medical supplies.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Recapturing the lost art of beautiful handwriting

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

If you get any post at all these days, chances are it’s a bill, it’s in a brown envelope with your name and address clearly typed a transparent window. And then, once in a very blue moon, a handwritten letter drops through the letterbox, proving once again that what’s rare is truly wonderful.

Even better if the writer has taken pride in their handwriting, and the envelope is embellished with swirling letters and affectations – overflowing with calligraphy that might have been written with a quill.

But the sad reality is that no one really does joined-up writing anymore.

Even if it’s handwritten, it’s all block letters, which of course makes it easier to read – but it’s robotic, impersonal, arguably cold.

Those sweeping curves and letters used to reveal so much about the writer, things a text will never tell you. It isn’t even the text abbreviations; it’s just that anyone can write a text but not everyone can construct a letter.

Remember the hours spent in Junior Infants perfecting those joined-up letters, dotting all those i’s and crossing every t?

Remember the innocent love letters where the i’s dot was replaced by a love heart, where the g’s and the y’s at the end of a sentence could be finished with a flourish that served as a sort of sweeping underlining?

Remember the days when you had a ‘good pen’ that was kept in school; a fountain pen that you had to buy ink refills for, but which just felt so special when you were given occasion to use them?

You concentrated that much harder to make your work legible, and the method became as important as the actual subject matter.

We all had a sweeping signature too – not for autographs but for cheques. Now we sign our life and money away with a PIN code instead of a pen.

The truth is that, for all of the obvious advantages of the digital age, it has cost us the art of penmanship, the exercise of composing a letter or an entry into a diary or just a simple note.

Nobody I know writes out a shopping list these days, but if they did it would be on their phone. A growing number don’t even do that anymore; instead they’ll go online and just tick the box on what they want and have it delivered.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Rural Ireland fails to provide youth with even a basic level of critical services

Francis Farragher

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ONE of the biggest challenges facing rural youth in the West of Ireland is the inadequacy of the public transport system, according to new research published by National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).

Young people who were surveyed in different parts of Ireland – including the West – described rural transport in their local areas as ‘virtually non-existent, unreliable, irregular and expensive’.

The young people surveyed still hadn’t progressed to the stage where they were in a position to drive themselves and consequently were either dependent on public transport or in getting lifts from their parents.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) recommends that the Government should introduce a public transport subsidy for those under the age of 18 years as well as providing community buses for rural counties and a fund to provide the cost of insurance and fuel.

Marie-Claire McAleer, head of research and policy at the NYCI said that limited public transport had massive implications for young people.

She said that the impact of limited public had implications for access to education, training and employment opportunities as well as access to mental health or sexual health services available in urban settings.

“Without public transport, accessing services in urban settings is not feasible and this coupled with the poor broadband infrastructure, inhibits young people’s access to vital supports and information available online,” she said.

The 102 page research document entitled: ‘Youth Work in Ireland. A Qualitative Research Study Exploring the Provision of Youth Work in a Rural Context’, was officially launched last week in Castlebar by Minister for Rural and Community Affairs, Michael Ring.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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