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Connacht Tribune

Child porn man breached bail by visiting US

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A 45-year-old Corrandulla man who faces sentence in November for having over 30,000 images of child pornography on his computer, was arrested at his home for breaching a condition of his bail by not disclosing to Gardaí that he owned a US passport – which he used to leave the country in recent weeks.

John Healy, from Gortroe, Corrandulla, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court on May 16 last to two charges of being found in possession of child pornography, which contained images and videos of children posing nude and engaging in sexual activity, while he was in a public area at Riveroaks, Claregalway, and again at his home at Gortroe, Corrandulla, on October 30, 2014, contrary to Section 6(1) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

Healy had initially been granted bail in the District Court. One of his bail conditions was that he surrender his passport to Gardaí and not apply for a new one or any other travel documents.

Healy surrendered his Irish passport to Gardaí at the time but did not tell them he had a US passport as well.

He was remanded on continuing bail with the same condition attached when his case was listed before the Circuit Criminal Court on April 30 last.  The matter was adjourned then to July 23 when a trial date was due to be set for later in the year.

Healy then applied to the Circuit Court for the return of his Irish passport so that he could travel to the States on holidays. The application was granted and Gardaí returned his passport to him on condition he surrender it again to them on his return.

Healy surrendered his Irish passport to Gardaí on his return and then he came back to court unexpectedly on May 16 and pleaded guilty to both charges.

He was again remanded on continuing bail to November 6 for sentence.

Meanwhile, Garda Aidan Quinn made enquiries with American Airlines about Healy’s visit to the States.

The airline confirmed to him that Healy had used a valid US passport to enter and leave the States and at no time had he used an Irish passport.

State prosecutor, Conor Fahy, informed the court that he wanted Healy brought in custody before the court to explain why he had breached his bail conditions, stating Healy had made an application to the court last month “under false pretences” for the return of his Irish passport so that he could travel to the US.

Judge McCabe issued the warrant and Garda Quinn travelled to Healy’s home and brought him in custody before the court.

Garda Quinn said Healy had handed over his US passport to him at his home that day.  The Garda said he intended keeping both passports pending completion of the case.

Garda Quinn said Healy told him he had not been aware he had to hand over his US passport as well as his Irish passport as part of his bail conditions.

In reply to Judge McCabe, Mr Fahy said he would not be looking for Healy to be remanded in custody now as the US passport had been handed over.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy said the issue with the US passport arose because his client ‘simply did not understand’ the court order regarding his passports.

Judge McCabe observed it was ‘unusual’ that Healy would seek the return of his Irish passport from Gardaí, while knowing he had another passport which entitled him to enter and leave the US.

Accepting that Garda Quinn had possession of both passports now and that the State was not looking for Healy to be remanded in custody, the judge said he would make no order.

Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road

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Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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