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City Garda cuts not as deep as in other areas



Mill Street Garda Station

Galway has suffered a fall of just five per cent in the county’s Garda force – one of the smallest cuts in the country.

That is according to information released by the Department of Justice, after a query from Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice and Equality.

The figures released earlier in the week show that as of January 2015 Galway has 567 Gardaí, compared to a figure of 599 in 2010.

That is a decrease of five per cent over five years, while other areas lost up to one-fifth of their numbers in the past five years.

Cavan-Monaghan, for example, suffered the harshest cuts to its division, losing 22 per cent of its Gardaí in the same period.

Galway is on par with Westmeath, and just below Cork city at four per cent and Cork North at two per cent, which saw the least dramatic cuts nationally.

Galway previously saw the closure of ten stations in January 2013 as part of An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plan 2013.

Deputy Collins had registered a complaint with the Ceann Comhairle when the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald initially failed to release the documents pertaining to garda numbers. The figures were released at the weekend.

“Hiring 200 additional Gardaí is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s needed,” he said, referring to recent graduations at Templemore Training College.

The Deputy recommended that the government commit to increasing Garda levels by 14,000. There are currently 12,775 Gardaí in the country.

But Dermot O’Brien, the Galway man who is President of the Garda Representative Association, criticised the government’s management of Garda numbers.

Mr O’Brien, who is based in Tuam, said there were an estimated 12,799 Gardaí in the force – but when that was stripped down by rank and takes into account those who are sick, injured, on leave and job sharing, it is a four figure number. “And that four figure number is then divided among five units”, he said.

“Gardaí today earn a hell of a lot less than they did in 2008. They now want back what they’re owed by the government.

“Talks of percentage rises are not welcome, because that relates to productivity and Gardaí have already put in enough of that and given enough through the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements.

“The new recruits coming in are in a poverty trap, where they’re working in a two-tier wage system and being moved to urban areas with high rents. It’s time for the government to address this issue,” he added.

Earlier this month Galway West TD Sean Kyne welcomed the announcement of additional recruitment to An Garda Síochána. “I am confident that Galway will get its fair share,” he said.

He also asked the Minister to confirm whether the Garda Commissioner would take cognisance of the Gaeltacht areas in Galway to ensure sufficient numbers proficient in the Irish language, as required under law.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



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



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.


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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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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