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Farmer fined over ‘toxic’ yard



A County Galway farmyard where animals had been ill-treated was last week described as “an environmental, health and safety catastrophe for both humans and animals.”

“The yard is so toxic that anyone who does work there has to dispose of all of their clothes,” Superintendent veterinary inspector Michael O’Brien told a sitting of Loughrea District Court during the hearing of a case where the farmer admitted  three charges of ill-treating lambs and permitting a carcass to remain unburied.

Before the court was 46 year old farmer PJ Shiel of Reaskmore, Craughwell,  who was stated to have over 60 previous convictions and was accused by the veterinary inspector of making no effort whatsoever to improve conditions on his 160 acre farm over the past three years.

Mr O’Brien told the court there were on-going problems on the farm where there was actually no gates or fencing, except for what was erected by neighbouring farmers, and animals grazed and then came out onto the road.

He recalled a visit he paid to the farm on November 15 2013 when he found two lambs in a trailer which were “skin and bone” because they had not been fed for some considerable time and there was no feed or water.

He also discovered an unburied four or five month old weanling in a shed which he estimated had been dead for five or six weeks and whose hoofs had come away.

He described a field strewn with all kinds of machinery and a lot of barbed wire in loops which animals could walk through. Only three animals had been sold from this farm, and 22 animals had gone to the knackers’ yard. He could only guess that these animals had died on the farm.

Mr O’Brien went on to tell Judge Geoffrey Browne of serious difficulties they had with getting Mr Shiel to get tests done on his animals or register calves.

There was in breeding on the farm and he was not co-operating with a campaign to eradicate a very nasty disease known as BVD.

This campaign was paid for by farmers but it involved animals being tagged and tested and required “one hundred per cent buy-in” by the farmers.

Witness told Judge Browne that he would guess there were about seventy bovines on the farm and about the same number of sheep.

Inspector Mick O’Dwyer told the court that there were over sixty previous convictions against the accused including convictions for cruelty to animals, leaving carcases unburied, and offences in regard to TB notices.

In reply to Gearoid Geraghty, solicitor for the accused, Mr O’Brien said he had visited the farm a few days prior to the court case and found the animals in good shape. His concern was for the health of his own officials and anyone else who would be doing work on the farm.

He said that Mr Shiel was in receipt of a single farm payment and if he got out of livestock completely, and let the farm, he would still get the single payment and would have more money.

Vincent Costello, an agricultural consultant,  gave evidence of monitoring the farm over the last two years during which time the big issue concerned the welfare of animals, and  how the feeding of cattle was now not a problem.

He did agree with Mr. O’Brien about the farm yard and said that he would be prepared to oversee the rectifying of structural difficulties and a clean-up, if Mr Shiel co-operated.

Mr. Geraghty told the court that his client lived alone with his 81 year old mother who was in court with him. The defendant had significant health problems and had spent eighteen days in Portiuncula hospital following a stroke.

He agreed that it was a very difficult case but said his client “had come to his senses” and he asked that the matter be adjourned for six months.

Judge Browne said the situation on the farm was “an absolute disgrace” and the defendant had done nothing about it, despite convictions in the Circuit Court in 2011.

He imposed a fine of €750 on one of the cruelty charges and made an order prohibiting the accused from keeping no more than five animals at any given time, but only on condition that all necessary veterinary procedures were carried out on the animals.

He also imposed a fine of €500 for permitting the carcase of a livestock to remain unburied in an open shed.


Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed



Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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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Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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