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Burglar’s tools of the trade revealed in court



A married man who had a phone concealed in his genital area which rang when Gardai went to search him, told a “cock-and-bull” story about visiting a girlfriend late at night, Judge Mary Fahy at Galway District Court.

Orentas Jaselskis (57), a Lithuanian national and father of four, with a former address in Clonsilla, and more recently at Moone Avenue, Athy, Co. Kildare, was arrested and searched in the early hours of the morning after two Gardai noticed him acting suspiciously near Oranmore.

Jaselskis appeared before Galway District Court this week where he denied a charge of having several implements associated with housebreaking in his car at Coolough, Oranmore on December 5 last, with the intention of using them in the course of a burglary.

The items included a black hat and gloves, double-sided tape, jimmy bar, torch, Stanley knife, metal file and set of screwdrivers.

He further denied having a card which opened out like a jigsaw, into a sharply-pointed knife, on the same occasion.

Gardai also found a radio signal-blocking device, plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter, which could be used for immobilising house alarms, mobile phones and other security devices which operate using radio signals.

Garda Conor Barrett told the hearing that he and Detective Padraig Healy were on patrol in an unmarked Garda car at 2.30a.m. when they noticed a car being driven by the accused who was acting suspiciously.

They stopped the car and noticed Jaselskis was extremely nervous.

Garda Barrett said he believed the accused might have had drugs on him, but on searching his wallet, he found the card-shaped knife instead.

He then arrested Jaselskis and handcuffed him for his and Garda Healy’s safety in case he had other knives or weapons concealed on his person.

He found a iPad on the passenger’s seat which had a sat nav app on the screen.  There were maps too of the local area with roads marked out in the Moyvilla area.

He then found the aerial plugged into the cigarette lighter which could be used for blocking house alarms.

He found a bag containing the jimmy bar and other implements, which he believed were to be used in the commission of burglaries, along with a knuckle-duster in the boot.

Both Gardai took Jaselskis to Oranmore Garda Station and while carrying out a more thorough search of the accused there they heard a phone ringing.

“We heard a ringing noise but we couldn’t make out where it was coming from.  Then we noticed he had a mobile phone concealed in his genital area,” Garda Barrett explained.

Garda Healy gave evidence stating they tried to ascertain where Jaselskis had come from and where he was going but he kept saying he was in Galway to meet a girlfriend.

In reply to Judge Fahy, Garda Healy explained that the double-sided tape found in the car could be used to tape over and deactivate security sensor lights, cover a camera lens or be used for fishing items out through a letterbox.

The accused, he said, refused to enter his password into the iPad to prove it was his and refused to tell them why he was in the area that late at night.  “He had a mobile phone down his boxer shorts, too, which we only discovered when it started ringing,” Garda Healy said.

Jaselskis gave evidence he was down in Galway with a friend who wanted to buy a car  but the vendor could not meet them until the next day and they booked into a B&B.

He said his wife rang him that night, saying she was ill and needed him to bring her to hospital, so he was on his way back to Dublin but got lost just before the Gardai found him.  He said he did not know where the B&B was situated.

The card which could be adapted into a knife was legal in his own country and he had bought it online from China, he added.

Judge Fahy said she had heard enough and that the accused had told a “cock and bull” story about a B&B, a friend and buying a car.

Garda Barrett said the accused had received a five-year sentence at Dublin Circuit Court in 2007, for the possession of a firearm and ammunition and for drug dealing and possession charges.

Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin said Jaselskis had been living in Ireland for 15 years, was married and had four children.

Judge Fahy sentenced him to twelve months in prison for having the implements in the car and imposed a consecutive six-month sentence on him for having the knife, which she suspended for two years.

Noting he had used his car in the commission of a crime, she also disqualified him from driving for three years on the first charge and for 12 months on the second charge, to run concurrently.

Hearing the accused wanted to appeal and was ready to take up bail, Judge Fahy imposed a further condition that he stay away from Galway city and county other than for court appearances or legal appointments.

Garda Barrett said Jaselskis’s son, who had been present for the lengthy hearing, was acceptable as a independent surety as he was a person of good character.


Murals are part of initiative to restore pride in Ballybane estate



From the Galway City Tribune – A poem about litter forms part of a vibrant colourful new mural painted on the walls of a City Council estate in Ballybane.

The poetry and artwork by local artist Irene Naughton is part of an initiative to restore pride in Sliabh Rua.

The final two lines of Ms Naughton’s poem, called The Dragon’s Foot, read: “The land, the sea and the river all get hurt when we leave a littered footprint on the earth.”

The full poem was painted onto boundary walls as part of a large colourful mural that was created by Ms Naughton.

The street art includes handprints from children living in the estate on the city’s east side.

It also depicts an enchanted forest, a dragon sitting atop Merlin Castle, a view of the Burren, a wolf, butterflies, insects and foliage, as well as a man playing the guitar, a former resident who died.

Ms Naughton, who was commissioned by the City Council’s Environment Department, said it took about five days to complete.

“The residents were very, very helpful and kind,” she said.

Councillor Noel Larkin (Ind) explained that the mural was part of a wider, ‘Ballybane Matters’ project, which stemmed from Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

“We were doing a lot of talking at the JPC about anti-social behaviour, and it seemed to be more prevalent in the Ballybane area. When we boiled it down, it was in the Sliabh Rua and Fána Glas areas.

“Month after month it was just talking. So Níall McNelis [chair of the JPC] said we should set up a small group to hone in on exactly what was going on,” he said.

A group was formed to focus on improving the Council estate of about 40 houses.

As well as Cllr Larkin, it included: Sergeant Mick Walsh, Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer and community Gardaí Maria Freeley, Nicola Browne, Kenneth Boyle and Darragh Browne; Fr Martin Glynn; Imelda Gormley of Ballybane Taskforce; Councillor Alan Cheevers; Donal Lynch, chairperson Merlin Neighbourhood Residents’ Association; and two members of Galway Traveller Movement, Katie Donoghue and Kate Ward.

Ms Gormley carried out a survey to get feedback from residents.

“A lot of the problems people had were horses on the green, people being harassed going in and out of estates, trailers full of rubbish left around the place, the City Council not cutting the grass, and anti-social behaviour,” explained Cllr Larkin.

Small improvements, with community buy in, has helped to revitalise the estate.

Cllr Larkin praised Edward Conlon, community warden with the City Council, who has been “absolutely brilliant”.

“He looked funding that was available to get trees or shrubs and to get the grass cut more regularly,” he said.

“Fr Martin got a residents committee set up because he knew people through the church, and that means there is community buy-in, people are actually taking an interest now.

“When we started originally, Sergeant Mick Walsh mentioned ‘the closed curtain syndrome’. You go into your home in the evening close your curtain and don’t want to see what’s going on outside. Whereas now, with community pride restored to the area, if somebody is acting the maggot outside, people are keeping an eye on it and that curbs anti-social behaviour,” said Cllr Larkin.

Covid-19 delayed the project but it “came together very quickly” once work started.

Cllr Larkin said that the project will move to other estates in Ballybane, including Fána Glas and Castlepark, but they also plan to maintain the progress made in on Sliabh Rua.

“We decided to concentrate on Sliabh Rua, because if we could crack Sliabh Rua we could crack the rest of them. Pride has been restored in the community,” added Cllr Larkin.

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QR codes hold the key to podcast tour of Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – From singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s teenage days busking on the corner of William Street, to the rich past of the 14th century Lynch’s Castle on Shop Street, a new interactive tour of Galway City covers modern and ancient history.

Regional tour guide Jim Ward has created a series of podcasts detailing the history of eight places of interest in Galway City.

The Salthill native has created two-dimensional QR codes that are located at each of the eight locations, which allow visitors to download the podcasts to their smart phones.

Each podcast gives a flavour of the tours that Jim gives in ‘real-time’ when he leads hordes of tourists around the city’s famous sites.

The podcasts range from five to ten minutes and are located on or near buildings at the following locations: Eyre Square, William Street, Lynch’s Castle, the King’s Head, St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, the Latin Quarter, Spanish Arch and Galway Cathedral.

During the Covid-19 Lockdowns, Jim gave virtual tours by video through sustainable tourism website, Flockeo.

He has also brought Ukrainian refugees on tours through the city streets to allow them to become familiar with Galway’s rich history.

The podcasts are hosted on his website, and are accessed on mobile devices through via QR codes scanned onto posters.

Jim said he was grateful to the businesses of Galway, who have allowed his to put up posters on their premises near the sites of interest.

“I propose to ask Galway City Council for permission to place some on public benches and poles at a later date.”

He said the idea was to “enhance interactive tourism in Galway and bring connectivity to the city”.

He also has other plans in the pipeline, including rolling-out an interactive oral history of certain areas such as Woodquay.

This would involve interviewing local people of interest in certain historic parts of the city, which could be accessed through podcasts. The stories would be their own, or that of local organisations.

“The recordings would be accessed through QR codes on lamp posts or park benches and would provide a level of interactivity and connectedness with our historic town,” Jim added.

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Renters in Galway City have to fork out an extra €11,500 annually



From the Galway City Tribune – Renters in private accommodation in Galway City are paying, on average, around €11,500 more per annum than they were at the bottom of the market ten years ago.

According to figures published by property website this week, the average monthly rent in the city now stands at €1,663 – that’s up a whopping 138% since the market trough in early 2012, when it stood at around €700.

At the end of June this year, the average monthly rent had risen 16.4% – one of the biggest jumps in the country.

Nationally rents in the second quarter of 2022 were an average of 12.6% higher than the same period a year earlier, as availability of rental homes reached an all-time low.

County Galway has seen a similar pattern of increases – average rents stood at €1,184 per month, up 12.4% on the previous year. The averages have also more than doubled – up 132% – since the bottom of the market.

At the moment, there are fewer than 60 properties available for for rent in Galway city and county – the lowest figure recorded since the rental reports began in 2006.

A breakdown of the figures shows that a single bedroom in Galway city centre is renting for an average of €588 per month, up 19.5% on June 2021, while in the suburbs, a similar room is commanding €503 per month, up 15.9% on a year earlier. A double room is generating €633 (up 16.4%) in the city centre and €577 (up 19.2%) in the suburbs.

In the city, an average one-bed apartment is currently ‘asking’ €1,110 per month (up 17.3% year on year); a €1,297 for a two-bed house (up 15.6%); €1,542 for a three-bed house (up 16.9%); €1,923 for a four-bed house (up 21.8%) and €2,016 for a five-bed house, which is up 10.6%.

Ronan Lyons, Associate Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin and author of the Daft report, pointed to a resurgent economy which has accentuated the chronic shortage of rental housing in Ireland.

“The shortage of rental accommodation translates directly into higher market rents and this can only be addressed by significantly increased supply.

“While there are almost 115,000 proposed rental homes in the pipeline, these are concentrated in the Dublin area. Further, while nearly 23,000 are under construction, the remainder are earlier in the process and the growth of legal challenges to new developments presents a threat to addressing the rental scarcity,” he said.

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