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€36,000 stolen from County Council in phishing scam

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A ‘phishing’ scam saw thieves steal €36,000 from Galway County Council, a new audit has revealed.

In a presentation of the findings of the 2017 audit of the local authority books, committee chairperson Des Mahon told last week’s Galway County Council meeting that all but €3,500 of the stolen money had been recovered and the outstanding amount was still being pursued by Gardaí.

Oughterard Independent Councillor Tom Welby queried whether the auditors were satisfied that sufficient safeguards were in place to ensure a similar scam would not happen again.

Mr Mahon said the ‘phishing’ fraudsters had secured a “very significant figure in another council”.

“Lessons were learned. Hopefully it will never happen again. Cyber fraud is a totally different game to what it was.”

International criminals attempted to defraud Meath County Council of €4.3m in late 2016 by impersonating the CEO. The council’s bank was alerted and the theft was detected before it was completed. The funds were frozen in a Hong Kong bank account and that local authority had to initiate legal proceedings to have them returned.

The audit showed there was €5.4 million due from rates by the end of 2017 – which was a significant improvement compared to four years earlier when the debtors amounted to €10.6m.

This was due to an increase in vacant premises and write-offs.

More tenants were falling into arrears with the audit highlighting the €813,000 still outstanding for housing rents – €73,000 more than the year before.

And the arrears extend beyond rents.

“It is a concern that 55% of the housing loan accounts are in arrears for periods greater than three months. The Council apply the mortgage arrears resolution process but in some instances the loans are deemed unsustainable which could lead to repossessions.”

The Council were owed €6m from Government departments – €2.4m of it from Fáilte Ireland.

An agreement had yet to be reached with Galway City Council over the arrears due for shared services for the last seven years.

Council CEO Kevin Kelly said a recent review had modified the proportion of costs slightly in favour of the City Council and they had struck a deal on what each would have to pay until 2021.

The cost of shared services was €6.9m last year.

“We don’t have the agreed figure for arrears. For example we thought it was €95,000 in 2016, €154,000 in 2017 so it’s varying amounts but we have to get agreement with the city on the exact amount.”

Fianna Fáil Councillor Donagh Killilea asked if the audit had investigated the cost of changing the van fleet consisting of up to 20 vans which were to serve as tippers on road works.

He understood that the Council had leased 3.5 tonne vans which had to be replaced with 7.5 tonne vans as they could only carry 400 kilos.

The vans were “not fit for purpose as they cannot carry as much as a bag of sand”.

Mr Kelly said he would investigate the matter further as he too was “in the same game of trying to get value for money”.

Connacht Tribune

€5,000 of shopping vouchers to be won in our Great Grocery Survey

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At The Connacht Tribune we’re always looking at ways to better understand our readers and how you live your lives as this helps us deliver news, sport, features, information and advertising that you will enjoy reading and find useful. Currently, we’re seeking to better understand your buying habits in relation to grocery shopping and we’d be delighted if you could spare 15 minutes to complete our short online survey.

There are €5,000 of shopping vouchers to be won and all completed surveys will be entered into a national prize draw with a chance to win one of fifty €100 ‘One4all’ vouchers.

The survey can be completed online by logging onto:

www.surveymonkey.com/r/GrocerySurvey2022

and following the instructions or keep an eye on our social media and website where you will be able to link through to the survey too. The deadline for completion of all surveys is Monday February 7th

The shopping voucher prize draw will take place in February and winners will be announced online and in print across participating local newspaper titles.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in our Great Grocery Survey.

The Connacht Tribune is a member of Local Ireland, the trade organisation that represents local newspaper publishers across Ireland.

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Connacht Tribune

Gentleman Jim – the consummate journalist

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RTE Western Editor Jim Fahy in the Galway studios in the week of his retirement. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Obituary by Dave O’Connell

Jim Fahy was a man of many paradoxes; a big imposing man who never tried to impose himself on anyone; an instantly recognisable face who only ever wanted to tell the story, never to be it; a reporter for the big, international story…but just as happy to record the minutiae of ordinary life.

Where there was no contradiction however was in his commitment to his profession – his quest to bring the news to the masses, driven by a phenomenal work ethic, an insatiable desire to find the answers and a lifelong dedication to his role as RTÉ’s man in the West.

That dedication to his craft brought plenty of plaudits – his career was bejewelled with over 40 awards for his work – but he always saw himself as the storyteller, never the story.

Like so many of the national service’s finest broadcasters, he cut his journalistic teeth in the world of newspapers – in Jim’s case, under the expert tutelage of Tuam Herald editor and owner, JP Burke.

And he learned well from the Master, because over his 38 years as RTÉ’s first Western Correspondent and Western Editor, he set the standard for regional broadcasting, covering his patch with curiosity and enthusiasm that never dimmed from first day to last.

His long-running Looking West series has rightly been singled out in recent days as his greatest legacy; those conversational documentaries that told – in the first-person and from memory – the story of Ireland through so much of the last two centuries.

Ever patient and dogged, he would sit for hours and hours with those who could offer a direct line back to the Famine – recounting the stories they’d heard from those who’d lived through it.

Thus he opened a window, for example, on life in the Big Houses, chatting with those who lived there – as easily to members of the aristocracy as the household staff – to get an insight into their lives and the world around them.

He loved words – possibly a throwback to his early days in print – but he also knew how to let a picture tell a story. And he also knew when to listen.

The past few days has also recalled his famous interview with the late Monsignor James Horan, against a backdrop of JCBs digging into the boggy mountain that was to become Knock Airport, as he asked the question the world wanted to – “Monsignor Horan, what exactly is going on here?”

“We’re building an airport…and we have no money, but we’re hoping to get it next week or the week after.”

You didn’t need an intrusion – just an ability to ask the question and step back to let the answer tell the tale.

He chronicled every big Galway story from early seventies to 2011 – Digital’s rise and fall and the similar trajectory of Bishop Casey; All-Ireland wins and losses; the Saw Doctors, Druid’s growth, the Arts Festival, the Races; the BrazilIans in Gort; sea tragedies; the Christmas tears and goodbyes at Knock airport; the Kiltartan floods and the Derrybrien mudslide; Michael D in the Dáil and the Áras – producing what good journalism is supposed to do…provide the first draft of history.

The Kilreekill native who had long lived in Tuam was the station’s longest serving regional correspondent, when he retired in 2011. Truth be told, that wasn’t his decision; it was just the state broadcaster’s arbitrary policy of retiring people at the age of 65.

Typically, he wanted to fade away on the back of a final broadcast – a piece on Paul Fallon’s 1,000-mile charity run as he passed through Oranmore on New Year’s Eve 2011, where typically he jogged alongside, still asking questions as he tried to take his quiet leave.

But the big man was never going to be allowed to simply fade into the ether, and President Higgins led the tributes to Jim in a personal message on that evening’s Six One News – saying how much he would be missed and how Jim had reported on everything political, cultural and international that had happened in the West under his journalistic tenure.

Fittingly it was the President who again led the tributes on Jim’s death at the weekend, describing him as ‘one of Ireland’s finest broadcasters’.

“It will be as RTÉ’s voice of the west of Ireland that Jim will be most fondly remembered,” said President Higgins.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also took time out to remember Jim Fahy’s ‘distinct voice and eye for a story uncovered every facet of life in the west of Ireland, as well as major international events like 9/11’.

Because the Galway man was one of the first journalists from Europe to arrive in New York in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Galway and the West was his daily beat, but the world was his oyster.

He’d interviewed Mother Teresa and travelled to Somalia with former President Mary Robinson in the late 1990s – a decade after he’d produced a series of programmes from London on that latest generation of young people to emigrate to Britain.

Typical of the man, once he retired, he made no effort to hold onto the limelight; instead he enjoyed life with Christina, his children and his grandchildren; he pursued his passion for sailing and reading – and if he departed this world way too soon at the age of just 75, he packed a lifetime into every day.

The recurring tribute from so many of his colleagues – in RTÉ and the wider journalistic community – was the advice he generously imparted, the encouragement he ceaselessly offered, and the praise he never failed to bestow when a job was well done.

He thrived on the big stories but never missed the small ones either; he mixed in exalted circles but had a passion for the ordinary and the marginalised – a need to tell their story in his own kind and inimitable way.

Jim Fahy died at home in Gardenfield, outside Tuam, on Friday night, surrounded as always by his beloved family. His Requiem Mass took place in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Tuam on Monday, with burial afterwards in Kilbannon Cemetery.

His wife Christina will miss him most of all, as will his son Shane, daughter Aideen, daughter-in-law Brenda, Aideen’s fiancé Colm, his treasured grandchildren Amy, Dylan, Hugh, Clodagh and Dara, brother Pat and his wife Nora, his relatives, friends – and all who knew him in the media world of wich he was such an integral part.

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Connacht Tribune

Údarás enjoys year of growth despite Covid

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Cambus Medical...major expansion.

There were 3,180 full-time jobs in companies supported by Údarás na Gaeltachta in the Galway Gaeltacht at the end of last year – the highest level ever in the history of the organisation.

The Údarás annual report reveals that 337 new jobs were created in client companies in 2021 – the highest level of new employment created in any of the counties overseen by Údarás for the second year running.

Even when the number of jobs lost was taken into account, that was still a net increase of 7.6% or 225 jobs in full-time employment on the previous year.

Most of the new jobs were created in companies operating in the medical devices, science and engineering sectors, including Freudenberg/Cambus Medical, Aran Biomedical, CLS, ÉireComposites, Zoan Nuáil Teo, Micron Clean, and HiTech Health.

During 2021, the Board of Údarás approved new projects which will ultimately create 108 jobs in the Galway Gaeltacht – with an estimated total investment of €3.09 million when these projects are underway.

The annual report also reflected on a number of significant announcements for the Galway Gaeltacht during 2021 – topped by Aran Biomedical’s 150 new high-quality jobs and more than 40 new highly skilled jobs created by Cambus Medical/Freudenberg Medical as part of a €1.9m expansion.

ÉireComposites also revealed plans to create 40 new jobs after signing a multi-million Euro contract with Spirit AeroSystems.

There was also notable positive reaction to the the Conamara Láir ‘Filleadh Abhaile’ campaign with over 120 relocation inquiries.

And the launch of the Ros an Mhíl Harbour report predicted that 900 jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector.

Two significant five-year Actions Plans were also published last year, both aiming to drive job creation, industry and tourism – both in An Cheathrú Rua and the Iorras Aithneach area.

Overall, the Údarás report revealed that 825 new full-time jobs were created in Gaeltacht companies in 2021, the highest number of jobs created in one year since 2008.

When job reductions are taken into account, there is a net increase of 446 in overall employment – the largest annual net increase since 1996.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Chief Executive Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh said that Gaeltacht communities and companies ‘deserve huge recognition for their perseverance during this pandemic’.

“The resilience shown has resulted in an increase in Gaeltacht employment over the past year,” he said.

“The challenges placed on Gaeltacht businesses and communities by this pandemic and Brexit are yet to be overcome but it is a source of considerable encouragement to see greenshoots of recovery by companies including the surge in the medical device sector in the Gaeltacht.

“Some of these indigenous companies are a real source of inspiration to others, those businesses that started out with just one or two employees and are now among the largest employers in the Gaeltacht,” he added.

 

 

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