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CITY TRIBUNE

Developer who ordered woman to leave house avoids prison

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A developer, who gave a woman 10 days to leave the home he wanted to acquire for his property portfolio, was given an 11-month suspended sentence at Galway District Court.

Judge Mary Fahy expressed a fear that the defendant would do the same again. And, while she could not impose a penalty to prevent this, his intimidating actions had to be marked appropriately.

“If it happens again, I’d recommend it be dealt with on indictment (Circuit Court), as it’s so serious,” she warned.

John O’Halloran (29), with addresses at Pier Road, Seapoint, Barna, and St Anthony’s Terrace, Bohermore, previously pleaded guilty to trespassing on the home of an elderly woman on Fr Griffin Road nearly a year ago. A further charge of criminal damage was withdrawn by the State, in view of the plea.

The court heard that he entered the house on May 11 – the lone female occupant was woken up by a noise, and came downstairs to find the stranger in her hallway.

He told her to vacate the property within 10 days because he wanted to buy it, and he then took two letters addressed to her.

Garda Clare Burke subsequently spoke to O’Halloran, who admitted he had been there.

Judge Fahy asked why the accused had picked that particular house, to which the defendant’s solicitor, Olivia Traynor, replied that it looked unoccupied.

Ms Traynor said the Land Registry had told her client that the house belonged to someone else who had passed away, but he now realised that was not the case. She further explained that he had taken the letters as he wanted to find out the name and address of the occupant.

“He has built up a property portfolio and he thought he could buy the house,” she added.

The court heard that O’Halloran had nine previous convictions, among them for assault and Public Order offences.

“I’m sitting on the bench for 23 years, and I’ve never heard of such an outrage,” Judge Fahy said.

“There is no logical explanation why a person building up a property portfolio would do something like this.”

O’Halloran expressed his remorse, but the injured party was not inclined to accept it.

“It’s an absolute mistake and I tried to take shortcuts. I can’t tell this lady how much I’m sorry,” he said.

The woman replied: “And I can’t tell you how much I don’t believe you.”

The defendant offered €1,250 in compensation, which the injured party accepted on the basis that she could also take a civil case against him.

The Judge adjourned the matter for a further €500 in compensation and a Garda behavioural report.

He was warned that a custodial sentence would likely be imposed if this was not good.

Conditions of bail were also imposed on O’Halloran in the meantime, that he stay away from the woman, her home, and from the entire Fr. Griffin Road area.

When the matter was called again on Wednesday, Judge Fahy remarked that it had been a “most unusual case”.

She proceeded to impose an 11-month sentence, suspended for two years on the condition that he does not re-offend in that time, and continues to observe the conditions of bail.

“If he wants to buy property he must approach a person in the normal way or check the websites of whatever properties are genuinely for sale, and not intimidate anyone out of their house,” she said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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