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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

Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year

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From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option

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From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway

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Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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