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CITY TRIBUNE

Cocaine addict ‘feels safer in prison’ due to drug debt

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The driver of a car which was found to contain a stash of stolen power tools, feels safer in prison due to his €36,000 drug debt, a court was told.

Anthony Barrett (20), 17 Fana Glas, Ballybane, became a driver and lookout for others involved in the theft of power tools from around the country, after running up the debt while feeding his cocaine habit.

Barrett pleaded guilty before a special sitting of Galway District Court to charges of handling the tools, knowing they were stolen, in the carpark of Peggy’s Bar, Corrandulla on March 20 last year.

Inspector John Maloney told the court Garda Barry Nugent and other Gardai kept a car containing the stolen power tools under surveillance and arrested Barrett after he got into the car and started the engine.  He admitted during interview he had been involved in the theft of the tools from various locations in the Midlands.

He told Gardai his role was to drive the car and act as a lookout for others.

All of the items were returned to their rightful owners thanks to Barrett’s co-operation with the Garda investigation.

Barrett also pleaded guilty to a plethora of charges relating to the theft of the tools and cash, causing criminal damage and interfering with cars at various locations near Shannon Bridge and Banagher in Co Offaly on the same date last March, which had occurred prior to the Galway handling charges.

He made full admissions to Gardai about his involvement in those offences and the court heard that without those admissions it would have been difficult for Gardai in Offaly to prosecute him.

Separately, Barrett pleaded guilty to driving without insurance in Galway on March 17 last year and again on February 26 last.

Inspector Maloney confirmed Barrett had 23 previous convictions, including several for driving without insurance, thefts, causing criminal damage, and dangerous driving.

Defence solicitor, Sean Acton, said his client had been held on remand at Castlerea Prison on a series of unrelated dangerous driving charges and he felt safer there.

“He was the driver and lookout.  He was under enormous pressure arising from his drug addiction which began in November 2017, when he started using cocaine . . . which left him with a €36,000 drug debt and because of that he got embroiled in these crimes,” Mr Acton explained.

He said Barrett was only 20 years old and was unable to deal with his addictions alone.

“He is now 18 months into his addictions and he told me he has since gone onto heroin. His life is completely out of control.

“His situation ‘on the outside’ is, perhaps, a little bit more dangerous than where he is now,” Mr Acton said.

Judge John King noted Barrett was a serial offender who repeatedly drove without insurance.

He imposed two, three-month consecutive sentences for driving without insurance on two separate dates and disqualified him from driving for four years.

He imposed a further consecutive six-month prison sentence for Garda Nugent’s charges relating to the handling of the stolen power tools.

The judge also noted that the Offaly charges could not have been brought without Barrett’s admissions and for that reason he imposed a further six-month sentence, which he suspended for two years on condition Barrett come under the supervision of the probation service on his release for 12 months.

CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport

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From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

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

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