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Bus passenger fined over aggressive behaviour towards driver



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.


Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday



A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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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Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault



Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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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