By Dara Bradley
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has recommended a change to byelaws on Lough Corrib to remove legal protection from invasive species such as pike – throwing a lifeline to under threat native salmon and brown trout.
In a major policy U-turn that has been welcomed by local salmon and trout anglers, IFI has conceded that byelaws in operation on Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation (SAC) are in breach of EU Habitats Directive legislation.
In a submission to the Department of Environment, its parent department, IFI recommends that changes are made to the bye-laws to bring them in line with the EU Habitats Directive.
If this happens, then pike and other non-native coarse fish will no longer be afforded the same protections in Lough Corrib as the native wild fish.
Salmon and trout conservationists have hailed the change in policy as a success that, if implemented, could save native species from the threat posed by predatory pike.
Michael Donnellan of Oughterard Anglers welcomed the change in direction of IFI and he urged Government to implement its recommendation, which would strip pike and other non-native species of protections they are currently afforded under byelaws 806 and 809.
“The statutory body involved with fisheries management, the IFI, have accepted the Habitats Directive, and we now want the Department of Environment and Minister Eamon Ryan, to formally adopt the recommendations of the statutory body. They need to amend the byelaws as recommended by IFI.
“If that is done, that basically means that non-native species will not have any legal protection within the SAC, which would then mean that it is in compliance with the Habitats Directive,” Mr Donnellan said.
Earlier this year, the Department held a public consultation about Designated Salmonid Waters Byelaws.
In its submission, IFI has conceded that byelaws 806 and 809 were “conflicting” with the aims of trying to conserve salmon and trout on Lough Corrib.
This is thought to be the first public confirmation by IFI that its policy to date of supporting the byelaws had been misguided.
The IFI said byelaws introduced in 2006, to prohibit the wide-scale harvest of pike and coarse fish from certain waters in Ireland, was “directly in conflict” with aims of the then Central and Regional Fisheries Boards.
The byelaws were intended as a “stop-gap”, it said “but the anomaly caused by these byelaws in respect of the management and marketing of the Great Western Lakes as wild brown trout fisheries has continued for a period of time”.
The IFI said the “proposal to designate these lakes as salmonid, or wild brown trout lakes must address this inconsistency once and for all”.
IFI’s submission added: “It is evident that unless the lakes … are exempted from the provisions of the two Byelaws, the byelaw as it stands does not achieve its stated aim of protecting the wild brown trout status of the lakes.
“In fact these byelaws have resulted in fish species which have become ’naturalised’ in these lakes, afforded equal protection to the native species which have been there since the retreat of the last ice age. This is contrary to the aims of the Habitats Directive and fisheries legislation in general.”
Mr Donnellan has written to local TDs, Senators and Councillors urging them to put pressure on the Department and Minister Ryan to change the byelaws to reflect IFI’s new position, which would afford salmon and trout a higher level of protection on Lough Corrib SAC and comply with the EU Habitats Directive.
Social media ban for revenge porn accused
A 26-year-old man has been barred from using all social media platforms since being charged with harassing his former girlfriend by allegedly posting sexually explicit photos of her online along with links to her Snapchat account.
It is the first prosecution of its type relating to image-based abuse, more commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’ to come before the courts in Galway.
Judge Mary Fahy imposed restrictions, prohibiting the publication of the man’s identity when he was first brought in custody before Galway District Court last October.
This week, she asked Sergeant Christy Burke, prosecuting, why had she imposed the restrictions at the time. He reminded her she had imposed the restrictions then as the case involved sexually explicit material.
Garda Paraic Moran gave evidence in October of having arrested and charged the man with harassing his former girlfriend on a date unknown between August 1, 2015 and July 10, 2019, contrary to Section 10 (1) and (6) of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The accused made no reply when the charge was put to him at the time.
The Director of Public Prosecutions directed the charge could only be dealt with at District Court level if the man entered a guilty plea.
Judge Fahy asked Garda Moran for an outline of the allegations made against the accused so she could decide on whether or not to deal with the case in her court should he plead guilty.
Garda Moran said the man had been in a relationship with the complainant and it was alleged that sometime after they broke up, she was contacted by a couple whom she didn’t know, inviting her to meet them for sex.
As a result of this encounter, the woman discovered intimate photographs of her were circulating on the internet.
She had sent the photos to the accused when they were together and it was alleged, Garda Moran said, that after the relationship ended the accused uploaded the photos to the internet on several occasions with links to the complainant’s Facebook Snapchat account.
Judge Fahy accepted jurisdiction in October to hear the case in her court and she made an order for prosecution statements to be sent to defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin’s office and for the accused to come to court this week and elect to either plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.
Sgt Browne informed the court this week the statements had inadvertently not yet been sent to Mr Gilmartin but they would be now.
Judge Fahy remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear back before the court in March and elect then whether he wanted to plead guilty or not guilty.
Bail was granted in October subject to conditions sought by Gardai that he have no contact with the complainant or any witnesses, by any means to include social media; continue to reside at his rental address in the city and notify Gardai of any change of address within 48 hours; sign on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Garda HQ at Murrough, Renmore; observe a nightly curfew between 10p.m. and 6a.m.; be of good behaviour and remain of sober habits; and provide a mobile phone number to Gardai and answer his phone to them at all times.
Judge Fahy added a further condition at the time prohibiting the man from accessing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and all other social media platforms, pending completion of the case.
She awarded him free legal aid and also advised him that if he broke any of the bail conditions it was likely he would end up in custody, due to the seriousness of the charge he was facing.
Help at hand for smokers with resolve!
The HSE has launched their annual free programme to help smokers at the start of the new year to try to kick the habit as research shows that 70% of smokers want to give up for good.
With packets of cigarettes now retailing at €15 a pop, there has never been a better time to quit – even if health reasons are not a consideration.
But the impact on health should help make that decision even more urgent, according to the Irish Cancer Society.
The HSE has found that half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. In 2015 records show that 5,950 people died as a direct result of smoking, with an additional 100 deaths thought to be the result of exposure to second-hand smoke.
The benefits of become a non-smoker quickly become apparent. The US Surgeon General’s Office insists that after 72 hours of quitting, breathing becomes easier as the bronchial tubes relax and energy levels increase.
After a fortnight circulation improves, making walking and exercise easier. After three to nine months: coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing are reduced dramatically. After five years the risk of heart attack falls to that of a non-smoker while after a decade the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
“The first thing is to realise that quitting smoking is a process, and it is important to understand where you fit in the process or ‘cycle’ of change,” said a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society.
“You need to plan when and how you’re going to quit. If you can get through the first 30 days without cigarettes, you’ll have gone a long way towards kicking the habit.”
The Quit Smoking West Service offers six free sessions with a HSE Stop Smoking Advisor. This therapist will explore habits and any concerns you have about stopping smoking. They will assess your level of smoking addiction, provide support to deal with challenges and discuss stop smoking medications.
“We know that quitting can be extremely difficult. But by working with us, we will support you to develop a plan to help you to cope with withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and provide you with motivational tips to help keep you on track,” a spokesperson for the service explained.
Call Quit Smoking West on (091) 737262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for the free, confidential support and advice.
Gort set for transformation under regeneration plans
The revitalisation of the town of Gort received another major shot in the arm last week when it was one of 27 landmark projects to share in the latest €21.5 million Rural Regeneration Development Fund.
The Gort Inse Guaire project received €798,000 towards the re-design of the Market Square and town centre streets, as well as reinvigorating the Canon Quinn Park greenspace in the town centre.
The Gorgeous Gort Forum – the representative body for all local community groups, clubs and organisations which drove this application – welcomed ‘the wonderful news’.
“We thank the Minister for approving funding for our town, and all the team in Galway County Council who we supported in developing and submitting this application and the local representatives who supported this application.
“We also thank the over 40 organisations, clubs and groups in our community, who we represent, that provided invaluable letters of support’, said Gorgeous Gort Forum chairperson Justin McDermott.
The Forum supported Galway County Council in the development and submission of this application. This included organising letters of support from over 40 various clubs, organisations, and groups in Gort which they represent.
The group also facilitated meetings between Galway County Council and key community stakeholders, and worked with local elected representatives, including Minister Anne Rabbitte, Sean Canny TD, Ciaran Cannon TD and local councillors including Joe Byrne, PJ Murphy, and Geraldine Donoghue, to lobby the minister on behalf of the community.
The news was warmly welcomed from all fronts, with local TD Ciaran Cannon describing it as an ambitious investment in Gort, building on a very strong community spirit in the town.
And his fellow Galway East TD Sean Canney particularly welcomed the work on Canon Quinn Park, which he described as ‘an underutilised yet vital greenspace within the centre of the town’.
“In order to capitalise on this invaluable resource, the park requires diversification and redesign to improve usages, discourage anti-social behaviour and provide a green lung for the town centre,” he said.
Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App
Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.
Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.
Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.