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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

Pubs to remain closed and restrictions on gatherings unchanged

Enda Cunningham

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Pubs and nightclubs will not be allowed to open next week, while restrictions will remain in place on indoor and outdoor gatherings, as the Government decided to postpone Phase 4 of the Roadmap to Recovery for a second time.

It will also become compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and shopping centres from next Monday.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin made the announcement this evening, adding that the current situation will be reviewed again in three week’s time.

Asked if pubs would reopen at all this year, the Taoiseach said that due to the way the virus spreads, the Government “cannot give any guarantee right now2.

“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to an increase in community transmission.

“I want [publicans] to know that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. The virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities.

“We have to heed our Chief Medical Officer and NPHET [the National Public Health Emergency Team] advice and we have to keep the pressure on this virus.

“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people; the Cabinet has agreed to continue with the current public health measures that are in place. Pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.

“The current restrictions on numbers attending indoor and outdoor gatherings will remain unchanged [50 people indoors and 200 outdoors].

“We will review the evidence again in three weeks’ time.

“This virus has not changed. It remains as virulent as ever and it is constantly on the search for new people to infect. It remains completely indiscriminate in its cruelty. But as dangerous as it is, we have shown we can beat it. Each one of us has the power to suppress it,” the Taoiseach said.

At a press conference tonight, Mr Martin also said that pubs which are currently trading (with food) will have to close at 11pm.

The Government has also announced that five locations – Malta, Cyprus, San Marino, Monaco and Gibraltar – have been removed from the so-called ‘Green List’.

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Connacht Tribune

Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears

Dara Bradley

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Saolta CEO Tony Canavan

Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.

There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.

But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.

There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.

Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.

“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.

“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.

“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure

Stephen Corrigan

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Chanelle McCoy (left) and Caroline Glynn with their new Pureis product line in Galway this week. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.

It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.

Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.

“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.

“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.

Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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