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CITY TRIBUNE

Former manager stole €20,000 to fund online gambling

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A woman stole €20,000 from her employer over a six-month period to feed a gambling habit which she claimed had developed while she was in an abusive relationship.

Jennifer Browne, with a former address in Ard Alainn, Merlin Park, who now resides in Sligo, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last May to the theft of €20,000 from Michael Smyth, c/o SCCUL Enterprises Ltd. at Saol Café, NUIG, on dates between January 1 and June 30, 2016.

Detective Paul Keane gave evidence at her sentence hearing this week that Browne started work as a manager in the café for the charitable company in November 2015 and dealt with all monies coming from the business.

She was the sole person in charge while two people with intellectual disabilities worked in the café.

In June 2016, Mr Smyth noticed discrepancies in the accounts and he spoke to Browne.

She wrote him a letter the next day stating she had a gambling habit that led her to “misappropriate” a substantial amount of money on a daily basis from the café.

Mr Smyth made a formal complaint to Det Keane and Browne admitted her guilt when he contacted her.

He said she had no previous convictions before or since this incident.

Defence barrister, Gary McDonald said his client made full admissions straight away and was very remorseful.

Browne had become suicidal around this time and the charitable organisation had arranged counselling for her, which was very compassionate of them, considering what had happened, he said.

Browne, he said, had been gambling online and she took the money to fund that.

“She thought that if she had just one big win, she would be able to pay off everything, as is the way of gamblers,” he observed.

Browne, who has since moved to Sligo and has a full-time job there, brought €900 to court to give to Mr Smyth.

Mr McDonald said she would be willing to put €100 away each week until the debt was paid off.

He explained that while her problem was gambling, it stemmed from her own abusive domestic situation at the time and not from a compulsion to gamble.

She is now attending a women’s support group and has not gambled since leaving Galway, apart from one relapse, a probation report handed into court confirmed.

Judge Rory McCabe said Browne now owed a balance of €19,100 and it would take her 191 weeks, or almost four years (at €100 per week) to repay the entire amount.

He said the interests of justice would not be served by imposing an immediate custodial sentence as Browne could only repay the money if she continued working.

He said he wanted her to set up a direct debit repaying €100 per week and in doing so, would not be tempted to use the money for anything else.

He adjourned sentenced for six months to see how she was getting on and said he hoped he would be able to deal with it by way of a suspended two-year sentence then if the repayments were being made.

“My only concern is that the money is repaid,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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