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Family holiday drama ends well thanks to bizarre twist



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.


SuperValu parent company takes ownership of Knocknacarra landbank



From the Galway City Tribune – The company behind the SuperValu supermarket chain has taken ownership of a significant landbank between Knocknacarra and Kingston.

Cedarglade Ltd, which is a subsidiary of Musgraves, has listed itself as the owner of almost 14 acres of land off the Western Distributor Road.

Part of that site was previously the subject of a proposal for a €30 million shopping complex which was turned down by planners – the ‘Kingston Cross’ scheme was to be anchored by Tesco and sports retail giant Decathlon.

The Musgrave Group is expected to draw up plans for a major development on the site.

In a planning application currently before Galway City Council, Cedarglade Ltd – a Musgrave Group subsidiary which operates the SuperValu and Centra brands – has sought permission to retain existing and erect new security fencing around the lands for a period of three years.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

According to the application, the fencing is being provided to secure the landbank – which sits on the opposite side of the Western Distributor Road to Aldi and Lidl – for health and safety reasons. Cedarglade has declared itself as owner of the lands in the planning application.

An Bord Pleanála refused permission last year for a €30 million shopping complex on part of the lands, ruling that it would be “deficient and substandard in quality”.

1 Kingston Cross Ltd, which is ultimately owned by Alanis Capital and the US vulture fund Oaktree Capital, told the Planning Appeals Board they received a “hostile reception” to their proposals, and accused Galway City Council of resisting any form of development on the lands. The Kingston Cross company owned the lands at the time, and still owns Gateway Shopping Park on the opposite side of the Western Distributor Road.

A spokesperson for the Musgrave Group had not responded to queries from the Galway City Tribune at the time of publication.

Musgraves also own brands such as Daybreak, Mace, La Rousse Foods, Donnybrook Fair, Frank and Honest Coffee, and employs more than 41,000 people across 1,000 stores in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Spain. Last year, the company acquired the iconic McCambridges business on Shop Street in Galway.

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€11m fit-out for new City Hall in Galway will go to tender



From the Galway City Tribune – A competitive process will be used to employ building contractors to carry out an €11m fit-out of the new City Hall at Crown Square, it has been confirmed.

The purchase of the offices in Mervue by Galway City Council last year did not go through a public procurement process.

And the local authority did not invite public expressions of interest from property owners or landowners who would be interested in supplying a new Council headquarters.

But a spokesperson has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that the contract to fit out the new building will go through a public procurement process, as is the legal requirement.

Tenders will be invited later this year.

“We have appointed a project management consultant and formed an internal working group, who are leading the design of the internal fit-out and co-ordination of the project – including consultation with staff, councillors and unions,” she said.

“Once the design has been agreed and signed off, the fit-out works will be tendered via a public procurement process. From then timelines will be agreed for the fit out, which will be dependent on the specifications of the design and supply chains for materials,” the Council statement added.

According to European Union law, the purchase of a building by public agencies is not legally required to go through a public procurement process, but works such as fitting out are.

There is a specific exclusion to Article 10 of the relevant EU Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of 26, on public procurement.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

It states: “This Directive shall not apply to public service contracts for: (a) the acquisition or rental, by whatever financial means, of land, existing buildings or other immovable property or concerning rights thereon”.

At the July 2022 City Council meeting, where councillors agreed to borrow €45.5m to buy the Crown Square building shell, the then Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath confirmed it had not been put out to tender.

He was replying to Councillor John Connolly (FF) who said he was a member of the HSE West Regional Forum, which had invited public expressions of interest for a new hospital site for Galway, despite already owning a large tract of land at Merlin Park.

Cllr Connolly wondered why the Council did not have to go through a similar procurement and tendering process.

“If it is the councillors’ wish to go out to procurement, I’ll do it, but it could delay it [the move to Mervue],” he said last July.

Mr McGrath added: “That’s not a threat, that’s the reality.”

Director of Services, Patrick Greene, when pressed about the procurement issue, said that Acon consultancy had given an independent assessment of the options.

Contractors will compete for the €11m fit-out job when it goes to tender.

Meanwhile, trade union sources at City Hall have confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that they have yet to be consulted about the proposed move which was due to happen by January 2024.

“We’ve been told nothing. We’re reading about it in the paper,” said one trade union source.

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Taxi driver in Galway jailed for sexual assault on passenger



From the Galway City Tribune – A taxi driver who sexually assaulted a sleeping passenger has received an 18-month prison sentence.

The female victim woke up in the back of the taxi to 45-year-old Francis Oseghale (45) on top of her, Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said: “It was truly the most terrifying ordeal I have ever gone through.”

Oseghale, with an address at Cartur Mór, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the city on July 15, 2018.

The court heard Oseghale no longer drives a taxi and his licence was taken away shortly after the incident.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said the granting of a public licence brings with it a “very strong responsibility and sense of duty”.

The judge said thankfully, the majority of taxi drivers “go beyond” that duty to protect the interests of the public whether they are customers or not.

“This man clearly broke all the rules and tore up the rule book into shreds insofar as it applies to how taxi drivers should behave towards their patrons.

“This despicable matter in which he took advantage of this young lady in his taxi, it is very troubling to put it mildly,” he added.

In evidence, Garda Colm Harlowe told prosecuting counsel Geri Silke BL, that Oseghale picked up the victim and other passengers on Bridge Street on the night of July 15, 2018.

The court heard the journey to the victim’s then home in Westside would normally take 15 minutes, but took one hour and five minutes after the other passengers were dropped off first.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

Garda Harlowe said the woman fell asleep in the back of the taxi and woke up near her home with the driver on top of her and his hand on her breast.

The woman pretended to be asleep in the hope the assault would stop.

The court heard the woman reported the incident to her sister and was examined at University Hospital Galway.

Garda Harlowe said DNA evidence and CCTV from Bridge Street enabled gardaí to identify Oseghale, who had no previous convictions.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she will never forget the fear of waking up and finding a stranger on top of her.

“I feel absolutely disgusted in my own skin,” she added.

She said she was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed anti-depressants and has moved away from Galway. She said everyone should be entitled to go on a night out and be brought home safely.

“I was sexually assaulted by someone I trusted to bring me home safely,” she added.

Defence barrister Bernard Madden SC told the court his client had written a letter of apology to the woman.

Mr Madden said his client is originally of Nigerian extraction and had a good record of employment.

Counsel said his client initially had difficulty in accepting he had committed an offence, but now accepted responsibility.

A risk assessment put Oseghale at a low risk for sexual reconviction and was suitable in the long term for probation supervision.

Mr Madden said his client is no longer living with his wife as a result of “this particular escapade” and faces the prospect of losing his current accommodation.

Counsel asked the court to note his client’s guilty plea and previous good record.

Judge O’Callaghan said the accused “committed a most serious and egregious offence” and “the facts speak for themselves”.

He said the court noted from the psychologist’s report that there was an element of “victim blaming” by the accused.

However, the judge noted that the accused later accepted that it was all his doing.

He said the aggravating factors in the case included the accused’s breach of duty towards a person who was vulnerable at the time and the impact of the assault.

He told the accused a custodial sentence was “unavoidable” and imposed a three-year prison term, with the final 18 months suspended.

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