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Breaches at Ballygar centre could lead to prosecutions



The review into the Aonad Family Resource Centre in Ballygar has uncovered eight serious breaches of legislation or contract agreements, some of which could result in criminal prosecution.

The inquiry conducted by a firm of forensic accountants in Dublin concluded that the centre was not functioning as a proper resource centre.

After persistent requests to see a copy of the review, an executive summary was provided to the Connacht Tribune nearly two months after Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly spoke about it on the Dáil record.

The centre was found to be was operating as “only an information bureau and serving the needs of the Community Services Programme (CSP) Horticulture Scheme”, author Martina McKenna remarked.

“There are three primary schools within a five mile radius serving 155 families and 235 pupils along with a post primary school in Ballygar itself serving 160 families and 218 pupils who are not receiving any support from Aonad Resource Centre at present,” according to the report.

A report by auditors appointed by Pobal, which supports programmes funded by the Government, stated they had “not obtained all the information and explanations” necessary for an audit and were unable to determine whether proper accounts had been maintained.

No record of income was kept from the horticulture scheme or a charity shop set up by Aonad.

The fact that proper accounts were not drawn up for seven consecutive years are “constant breaches of Section 147 of the Companies Act 1963 and Section 202 of the Companies Act 1990 which can result in both civil and criminal prosecutions for the directors of the company by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement”, stated the review.

An outline of other breaches of the Companies Act, tax laws, Employment Act and policies and contract agreements with the Tusla Child and Family Support Agency was also detailed.

“I reluctantly can come to no other conclusion but that this project is failing in so many aspects and segregating the community,” remarked the author.

The accountant recommended that Tusla should no longer fund the centre as it was “not meeting the needs of toddler, child and families of the entire community of Ballygar”.

For more coverage on the Ballygar Resource Centre, including reactions from workers, volunteers and clients, see this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run



A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda



Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway



Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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