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Family holiday drama ends well thanks to bizarre twist

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Conor Keane from Kinvara

A Galway family was left devastated when their family car containing a €4,000 customised car seat for their special needs boy was stolen while on holiday.

However a bizarre twist of fate intervened to bring a happy ending to the tale.

Aisling and Ronan Keane along with their four children from Kinvara had spent a few nights in their holiday home in Tullaghan, Co Leitrim last week when disaster struck. Ronan had returned from a morning’s surf when he discovered the back door open and Aisling’s people carrier gone, a Volkwagon Sharan.

Also stolen were the keys for his car, leaving the family stranded without transport in a remote part of North Leitrim. Having the family car stolen was traumatic enough, but it also held a car seat built specially for eight-year-old Conor at a cost of €4,000.

The family contacted a radio station in order to appeal to those who had stolen the car to at least return the car seat.

Conor has the extremely rare hereditary disease known as Peters-plus syndrome which is characterised by eye abnormalities, short stature and developmental delay. He needs to be peg fed and requires round-the-clock care as he cannot sit, walk or talk.

Aisling said the people carrier and special seat made their lives a lot easier as it allowed them to carry the upright wheelchair in the boot and meant that she could put Conor into the car seat in one move as it swiveled out through the sliding door.

After her appeal, Aisling was contacted by the transport manager of Rosedale Special School in Renmore where Conor is a student. Michael Nolan offered her the use of a bus for a week while their family continued their holiday.

Aisling declined the offer, as a VW dealership in Sligo had given them the use of a car while they got a new one sorted.

Ten minutes later, Michael called her back, asking her for the registration number of her car. He was on holiday in a Sligo hotel and by a strange coincidence had at that minute discovered her car parked up outside. As far as he could tell, the car was undamaged and the car seat still intact in the back.

Gardaí were contacted and a forensics team was combing the vehicle for any evidence left behind by the thieves. CCTV footage was also being examined to solve the mystery. Aisling was delighted by the peculiar turn of events. It meant that the family were able to continue their holiday as planned – the couple also have 16-year-old twins and a ten-year-old daughter.

“It all happened so fast. Everything happened together. You just can’t get your head around it. Oh my God…” The Conor Keane Trust was recently the chosen charity for the Lough Cutra triathlon last May in order to raise funds for hoisting equipment for the boy.

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

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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