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Drunk driver’s victim was tossed 30 metres from car

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A young woman walking home from a party died instantly when she was thrown nearly 30 metres after being struck by a car, a Galway Inquest heard.

Tracey Melia (24) of Tumnahulla, Corrandulla suffered ‘catastrophic head injuries’ when she was hit by a drink driver who left the scene in the early hours of May 10 last year.

Tracey and her boyfriend, John McDonagh, had attended the after-party of a wedding in Peggy’s Bar at Aughclogheen, Corrandulla and had decided to walk the half mile home to her parents’ house.

They had been with Tracey’s parents earlier in the evening at the party and had enjoyed a night among friends and neighbours before heading home shortly after midnight.

The Coroner’s Court heard that there was no footpaths or public lighting and that John had used the torch on his mobile phone to assist them and alert motorists too of their presence.

They had just crossed the road as there was a wider road margin when they heard the noise of a car revving and then coming at high speed.

They jumped up onto the high verge but the car kept coming at them. John told the Inquest he kept waving his torch but he knew they were going to be hit.

Next he knew he woke up on the road and called Tracey’s name but he got no response. Then he saw her lying motionless on the road and he thought she had lost her leg so he ran for help as his phone was dead.

He ran the wrong way and got to Tracey’s home where he found a phone in her dad’s van which he used to call the emergency services.

Meanwhile, passing motorists had also called the emergency services and the road was closed to passing traffic.

A statement given by the drink driver – also a neighbour of Tracey’s – Stephen Flaherty was read at the Inquest.

He admitted to having drunk about 15 pints that evening in Peggy’s Bar and had driven home. However, he had no memory of the accident and was found unconscious in his car in his own driveway by Gardaí. He later cried in the hospital when he was told what had happened.

Flaherty has since been convicted of drunk driving and received a five year prison sentence and has been disqualified from driving for twenty years. He had a blood alcohol reading of 261mg/100mls.

Garda Ollie White, a road traffic accident forensic specialist, said he had concluded that the driver mounted the raised ditch before hitting the pedestrians and that there had been no evidence of him braking.

He estimated that the driver was doing between 59km and 72km per hour at the point of impact and judged this on how far Tracey had been thrown after the impact.

Dr Michael Curtis, pathologist, in his statement, concluded that the cause of death had been from catastrophic head injuries as a result of being struck by a car and thrown almost 30 metres. Her injuries would have caused instant death.

A jury of six returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

The Coroner, Ciaran McLoughlin, said it had been an extremely difficult and tragic case saying his heart went out to the whole family on the loss of a young vibrant woman.

Connacht Tribune

Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!

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A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!

The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.

“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!

“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!

“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.

The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.

They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.

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Connacht Tribune

Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

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A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.

A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.

Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.

It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.

“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”

Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.

“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.

“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.

Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.

“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.

“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.

“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.

“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.

“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.

Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.

“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island

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Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.

The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.

According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.

As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.

Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.

Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.

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