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Families’ grief multiplied by robberies from graves



A 39-year-old man has been found guilty by a jury of handling statues and other religious ornaments which were stolen from graves, including children’s graves, in Lackagh and Annaghdown four years ago.

Marian Lingurar, who used to live at the time in a rented house with his family at Loughgeorge, Claregalway, pleaded not guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week to eleven charges of handling various religious items at Loughgeorge, knowing they were stolen, on October 4, 2011.

The items mentioned in the charges included various statues of Our Lady, an angel with a harp, a white angel with candle, a white angel with frosted globe, a statue of the Sacred Heart, and an angel holding a gold cross.

The accused, who was afforded the services of a Romanian interpreter during the arraignment, replied “No” when each charge was put to him.

A jury of eight women and four men was empanelled to hear evidence in the trial which lasted three days.

Nine people gave evidence they noticed religious ornaments had been taken from the graves of their loved ones in late August and early September, 2011.

In early October, Gardaí informed the public they had recovered items and an array of religious objects were put on display in a shed at the rear of Oranmore Garda Station for people to come and claim.

All of the witnesses said they went to the Garda Station and positively identified the objects which had been taken from their loved one’s graves.

Some of the witnesses gave heart-rending evidence of how and when they noticed items had been taken off their children’s graves.

Some lovingly handled the ornaments – which were exhibits in the trial – while in the witness box and they positively identified them for the jury by pointing out certain characteristics which set their ornaments apart from the others.

Other witnesses gave evidence of statues being “yanked” out of grotto’s erected by local communities in Oranmore and Kiltrogue.

One woman said a statue erected as part of a headstone on her parent’s grave cost €650 to replace as it had to be ordered from Spain.

The woman said she identified the statue of Our Lady with the Infant Child at Oranmore Garda Station.

It had been taken by force, she said, from her parents’ headstone in Lackagh New Cemetery, and she did not want it back.

“I helped my mother choose the headstone with the gold statue of Our Lady for my father’s grave.  It cost a lot of money.  She was subsequently buried there herself.

“Even after it was found, I didn’t want the statue back. As far as I was concerned, it was tainted.

“Someone had walked across my parents’ grave and stolen it. It was made from a marble resin with gold paint. It was very well glued into the headstone, and it would have taken some effort to take it from the grotto,” the woman said.

Sgt. John Moloney gave evidence he and other Gardaí searched Lingurar’s house after obtaining a search warrant early on the morning of October 5, 2011.

For legal reasons, the jury was not told during the trial that Gardaí had, in fact, gone to the house with a search warrant as part of an investigation into the killing of the late John Kenny from Oughterard, who was found dead in his pub on September 25, 2011.

To their surprise, they were confronted with a large array of ornaments stolen from the graves a month earlier when they entered Lingurar’s house.

Numerous religious ornaments were openly displayed on shelves and tables and around the TV in the living area of the house.

Sgt. Moloney said he got a shock to see so many religious ornaments and he felt it strange as he would normally associate such items with graveyards.

Lingurar told Gardaí he and his wife had bought the items from Claregalway and Clara flea markets.  He said they enjoyed buying such items and he would never steal items like that.

Sgt. Moloney said he had visited Claregalway market on a number of occasions and no such items were ever on sale there.

Detective Sergeant Adrian O’Neill said he arrested Lingurar at the house at 7.24am that morning and he was later interviewed at Galway Garda Station.

Lingurar, he said, told him he and his wife bought the statues at Claregalway and Clara flea markets and that they had been buying religious objects like this since 2006.

He denied stealing any of the items and said “I do not like to steal things like this.”

He said his wife, Crisa Rostas, was in the trade of statuettes.

Lingurar gave evidence he had been in Ireland since 2002 and he and his wife had bought the religious ornaments as it was the tradition of Romany gypsies to keep religious items on display in their homes.

He said they started buying items from both flea markets in 2006 and kept adding to their collection year on year. He was not aware, he said, that any of the items were stolen.

During cross-examination by prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy, Lingurar pointed to photographs of several ornaments and claimed to have bought them between 2006 and 2010.

Mr Fahy said that could not be true as the items had only been reported missing in August and September 2011.

Lingurar told the jury he had paid for the items from money earned working as a security guard in a new building situated adjacent to Galway Garda Station and from social welfare payments.

Following legal argument in the absence of the jury, Judge Rory McCabe directed the jury on their return to enter “not guilty” verdicts on three of the charges, due to insufficient evidence.

The jury took just under two hours to find Lingurar guilty on the remaining eight charges.

Defence barrister, Gary McDonald asked for sentence to be adjourned so he could obtain a prison governor’s report on his client.

Judge McCabe directed the preparation of the report and adjourned sentence to next Friday, November 27.

Lingurar is currently serving a four-year sentence imposed on him last April for withholding evidence during a Garda investigation into the death of the late John Kenny.


LDA identifies lands for over 6,000 new homes in Galway City



From this week’s City Tribune: Investment of €1.8 billion is needed to deliver on the potential for more than 6,000 new housing units identified by the Land Development Agency in Galway City.

The LDA’s Report on Relevant Public Land identified eight sites in Galway which it claims can deliver up to 6,050 affordable and social houses, if planning and other constraints are overcome.

It identified potential for up to 2,240 homes on HSE land at Merlin Park Hospital; up to 1,010 homes at Renmore Barracks; and up to 950 homes at Galway Harbour.

The report conceded these sites are on complex land with “numerous constraints” and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The other six sites include: Ballymoneen Road; Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road; Brothers of Charity Services on Old Dublin Road; City Hall at College Road; and Sandy Road.

Galway’s sites are among 83 State-owned landbanks the LDA has assessed as having development potential for up to 67,000 homes.

Only Ballymoneen Road and Dyke Road are in what the LDA terms Class 1, which can deliver a maximum of 420 within five-ten years.

This includes between 140-200 homes on Ballymoneen Road, and between 160-220 homes at Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road.

The cost for the development of Ballymoneen Road, on a site opposite Coláiste na Coiribe, would be between €41.2m-€50.7m.

The total cost of delivering up to 220 homes on the Teryland site is between €78.5m and €101m

The remaining 93% of the total city target face greater constraints, and longer timeframes.

Almost 70% of the  target, or 4,200 units, is earmarked for sites that are ‘Class 3’, which are lands that have potential for residential but face more constraints and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The LDA carried out an assessment on the eight sites in the city, which had an “indicative yield” of between 4,330 and 6,050 new housing units.

John Coleman, LDA Chief Executive said his organisation was “committed to working closely with the public bodies to find common ground for the release of land for affordable housing purposes and for the common good”.

This was a first step that “will lead to the identification of locations where new affordable homes can be built”, he added.

(Image: Lands at Galway Harbour identified by the LDA for up to 950 homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read extensive coverage of the LDA report and for indicative maps of the lands, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Transport concerns over Knocknacarra high-rise apartments plan



From this week’s City Tribune: Galway City Council has sought further information from the applicants proposing to develop 227 apartments in seven high-rise blocks at the entrance to Gateway Retail Park in Knocknacarra.

In what is the second application for the site at Gort na Bró, Glenveagh Living Ltd is seeking to develop five blocks ranging in height from three to five storeys – with 85 one-bed units, 139 two-bed units; and three three-bed units.

In a Further Information request, the Council noted that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) expressed concerns that the development “is located in close proximity to the preferred and/or approved route” of the N6 Galway City Ring Road.

“The authority is of the opinion that insufficient data has been submitted with the planning application to demonstrate that the proposed development will not have a detrimental impact on the capacity, safety or operational efficiency of the national road network in the vicinity of the site”.

Planners state that the creation of a “fifth arm” on the roundabout from the Western Distributor Road into Gateway Shopping Park and the site proposed for development was not discussed at pre-planning meetings and “is not permitted”.

Cycling facilities have been identified as concerning, as the two-way cycling lane on the WDR “ends abruptly”, bringing cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic.

Bicycle parking included in the application would be “difficult and inconvenient” to access and would not store non-standard bikes with cargo elements, it is outlined.

(Photo: Cllr John Connolly meets with residents to discuss the Glenveagh apartments proposal).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Junction underpass in Galway City regularly left under water



From this week’s Galway City Tribune: An underpass to facilitate pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate the Briarhill junction is regularly flooded with up to three feet of water discommoding the most vulnerable road users.

The popular ‘line’ walkway connecting Renmore to the heart of the city is also often deluged with water.

The two routes are used by hundreds of people to get around without cars but are an example of how Galway City Council are slow to address active travel issues, according to newly co-opted Social Democrats Councillor Alan Curran.

Cllr Curran had to warn off four people from walking through the underpass when he passed through last week.

“It’s like that for a few weeks. This happens regularly. I understand from the Council it’s a drainage issue. They’re aware of it and they have cleaned it out but it keeps returning in heavy rain,” he explained.

“The impression I got was it will take a while to get fixed. It may require some heavy engineering solution. My concern is the longer these things go on, the less people use them. Their only other option is wait ten minutes or longer at the begging buttons to cross four sets of lights.

“The entrances are dark and narrow and don’t give the illusion of safety for those using it, especially during the dark winter months. There was a pedestrian and cycling tunnel recently built in Amsterdam and the difference is stark – they know how to do it right.”

Head of Transport at Galway City Council, Uinsinn Finn, said the underpass was constructed as part of the original N6 Link, in the mid-90s when a roundabout operated.

When the roundabout was replaced with a signalised junction, with pedestrian crossing facilities and cycling lanes across the junction, the underpass worked more as a secondary option for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Underpasses – and overpasses – are not ideal and not considered in the city as we put pedestrians and cyclist generally ahead of motorised traffic and accommodate them at junctions with at-grade crossings,” the engineer stated.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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