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Career criminal caught red-handed with sawn-off gun



A 25-year-old Tuam man has been sentenced to five years in prison after being caught red-handed with a sawn-off shotgun in suspicious circumstances.

Edward Conroy, a father of three from 122 Parkmore Estate, Tuam, appeared in custody before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last Friday where he pleaded guilty to the possession of a single-barrel, sawn-off shotgun in suspicious circumstances on September 1 last year and to driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and driving while drunk at the time.

Garda Mark Shine gave evidence he received a call that Conroy was sitting in a car, armed with a slash hook, outside a house at Gilmartin Road at 12.10am that night and he went to investigate.

Conroy had driven off by the time Garda Shine arrived at the house two minutes later and he drove around looking for him.

He noticed Conroy’s car at short distance away.  It took off at speed, mounting the footpath as it did so. Garda Shine said he activated the siren and blue lights on the patrol car and gave chase.

Conroy drove into Tierboy estate and crashed into a wall. He then ran from the car carrying a gun in his right hand.  He hopped over a wall into a field and headed in the direction of Gilmartin Road.

Garda Shine found the gun just inside the wall. Conroy was subsequently arrested and questioned.

He made full admissions, admitting he had the gun in his possession at the time and that he had discarded it behind the wall while running away from Garda Shine.

During Garda interview, Conroy claimed he had found the gun while tending horses near the railway line.

He denied having the shotgun to threaten others and he claimed he hung onto it because he had found it.

Garda Shine said the accused denied being involved in any ongoing feud in Tuam and Gardaí believed he was telling the truth about that.

The court heard Conroy had 74 previous convictions for assaults, burglaries, thefts, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, criminal damage and failing to appear in court.

Garda Shine confirmed Conroy was currently serving a sentence for burglary and had been out on bail when these offences were committed.

In reply to Judge Rory McCabe, Garda Shine said Conroy had not told him who owned the gun and he claimed to have found it lying near the railway.

Reading from a very unfavourable probation report which had been handed into court, Judge McCabe asked: “Where’s he getting the money for his expensive cocaine, heroin and cannabis habit?”

Defence barrister, Michael Miley said his client was unemployed and in receipt of social welfare. He had married when he was 17 and had three children.

Judge McCabe said Conroy had told two very different stories about the gun’s provenance. He had told the probation service one story about how he came to be in possession of the gun and that the owner of the gun had asked him to return it.

Then, in his letter which had just been handed into court, Judge McCabe said Conroy had claimed he was in a distraught state of mind at the time and the gun had made him feel safe and helped to alleviate his mental state.

The judge said he had heard or read nothing to convince him that Conroy had any intention of rehabilitating himself while in prison.

“His pattern of lawlessness will continue, as outlined by the probation service, and I’m not prepared to make any allowances for rehabilitation,” Judge McCabe said before sentencing Conroy to five years in prison.

He imposed three, concurrent four-month sentences for the motoring offences, which he made consecutive to the five-year sentence and he disqualified Conroy for five years.


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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