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CITY TRIBUNE

Bus passenger fined over aggressive behaviour towards driver

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A chef, who took exception to a bus driver asking for more money to fully cover a fare, was convicted and fined for being threatening and abusive in public, at Galway District Court.

Judge Mary Fahy did not accept that the driver was being offensive when he corrected the defendant for underpaying a student fare by 20c, and said that it may have been an issue of cultural differences.

“‘Hey’ is not a derogatory term, it’s used to bring something to your attention – you totally over-reacted in my view,” she told him.

Alaa Al Bataineh (40), with an address at 58 Droim Oir, Clybaun Road, had pleaded not guilty to being threatening and abusive on two separate dates in November 2016.

Ciaran Kenny, a driver with City Direct Bus, told the court that he was operating the 412 service, along the Western Distributor Road to Eyre Square, on November 14 when he approached the bus stop opposite Clybaun Stores where there were up to eight people waiting.

“The defendant boarded, showed me a student ID card and put €1.30 in the chute – I informed him that the fair structure had changed (some months earlier), and that it was now €1.50 for a student,” he recalled.

“He started shouting and abusing me, he told me to f**k off, that I was a racist. He was very aggressive, and I felt threatened. I asked him to calm down… he slammed the 20c into the chute.”

Mr Kenny, who worked as a taxi driver in Dublin for 13 years, said that this was unfortunately a common occurrence now in his role as a bus driver in Galway.

In the interests of the passengers who were upset, he decided to let the defendant remain on the bus. When he got back to the bus depot, though, he reported the matter to his boss

He was told not to let the defendant on the bus again, and to report any further incidents to Gardaí immediately.

Four days later, the same driver was operating the 411 service from the Cappagh Road to Eyre Square. A large group of passengers were waiting for him at the bus stop outside the Clybaun Hotel.

“He was one of them; I’d been told by my boss that he was not allowed on, and to call Gardaí. I told him he could not come on, he got very aggressive, he put his head well in towards me and started shouting ‘hit me… racist bastard.’

“The bus was fairly full, it’s a busy route, I stepped off the bus while waiting for Gardaí. I was very upset, these are ongoing incidents, I am off work sick from another incident.

“It’s not what you want in a work day. I worked 13 years as a taxi driver in Dublin … this was a very frightening experience.”

When Garda Micheál Murphy arrived on the scene at 1.20pm he met both parties. A female passenger came forward to make herself known, but did not wish to make a statement.

“The driver said that the male had been roaring at him; he pushed him away as he was worried for his own safety,” he told the court.

The defendant, a Jordanian national, said that he had been training to be a chef in GMIT at the time, and had often caught the bus, but only ever paid €1.30.

“I’d have paid more if I’d known,” he said.

“He (the driver) started shouting and screaming at me. He was very rude.”

He took offence that the driver had said something along the lines of “hey, hey, hey, come back” to him.

Before the prosecution had the opportunity to question the witness, Judge Fahy short-circuited things by telling the defendant that he had over-reacted. She said that cultural differences may have been to blame, and explained that ‘hey’ was a commonly used word in Ireland to catch someone’s attention.

“I don’t think that the driver meant to insult you, and you totally over-reacted – I don’t accept your evidence,” she told him.

She further said that the injured party, who had had years of experience dealing with the public as a taxi driver in Dublin, would not have called the Gardaí for no good reason.

She convicted the defendant, imposing a €250 fine for the first incident, along with €50 in witness expenses. The second matter was marked proven.

CITY TRIBUNE

Brave Holly’s battle against leukaemia

Denise McNamara

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A keen young camogie player from Knocknacarra diagnosed with leukaemia at the start of the first lockdown has now learned that she has lost her sight in one eye due to a rare complication.

Holly McAlinney was the picture of health at age seven. Her mother Sharon remembers the day schools were closed last March that her teacher had remarked that Holly had difficulty hearing in class.

She took her to the GP, thinking it was an ear infection and then her jaw swelled up so she thought it may have been her adenoids acting up. When medication did nothing to relieve the symptoms, they sent off a blood test.

“I went to the doctor with her on my own, you were only allowed one parent in at a time. They asked if I could call my husband so I knew things were bad. They confirmed it was leukaemia on a Wednesday and on the Monday we were in Crumlin Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy – that’s how quickly it’s all been.”

Holly is now in the middle of her fourth round of chemo, which she undergoes weekly one day a week in the Dublin hospital. When she finishes this, she will have a fifth round given over two years to ensure the cancer doesn’t return.

Her medical team are extremely positive about her prospects. There is currently a 98 per cent survival rate with leukaemia, which is of course a huge relief to family and friends.

But things haven’t gone plain sailing throughout the treatment. Holly developed ulcers on her duodenum which left her in intensive care for a spell. And then last week, the family learned that the leukaemia had infiltrated her left eye, leaving a gap which could result in permanent blindness.

“We’re seeing a specialist in University Hospital Galway (UHG) next week but we don’t hold out much hope the sight will come back. Holly’s the most upbeat of all of us because she’s so young – she can’t see the repercussions into the future.

“That’s the way she’s been throughout the treatment. The first two rounds were heavy and the third quite light so she bounced right back. She was in school September and October, you wouldn’t know she was sick, and we felt she was safe because everything was so clean and with all the bubbles.

“It was right back down with the fourth round which was the heaviest so she can’t go see anyone just her brother – it’s heart-breaking.”

Her school friends have been keeping in touch by sending videos and cards to Holly to cheer her up.

While camogie and swimming will be out of the occasion for the foreseeable future, Sharon is confident they can find other hobbies that will enthral Holly, who is a very sociable and sporty girl. Sharon trains Holly with the U-8 camogie team with Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA.

The frequent trips to Dublin and hospital appointments has meant that Sharon has had to give up her job working in the Little Stars Montessori on the Cappagh Road, where son Alex still attends afterschool. Dad Rob works as an alarm engineer.

New mothers that Sharon met in Holly’s parent and baby group in Knocknacarra have organised a fundraiser to help the family get through the financial stress of coping with cancer.

They are planning a hike on December 6 at Diamond Hill, Connemara and have already raised €16,000 in donations.

“Rob and I are both from Salthill, but it’s been amazing the amount of people we wouldn’t have heard or seen in years who have contacted us to offer support. It’s only when you’re in trouble that you realise how good people can be.”

■ To make a donation, log on to GoFundMe

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CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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