Galway’s Garda Chief will learn this week if the city and county has been affected by the ‘breath tests’ scandal which has rocked the force nationally.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley of the Galway Garda Division said he was “most disappointed” at the news that the number of roadside breath tests had been exaggerated by one million over the past five years.
He has requested a breakdown of the figures for his division.
Chief Supt Curley said he has sought the figures to see if there is a discrepancy, but because he is not in possession of them, it would be unfair to comment.
“I don’t know where I stand, whether [the overall statistics] are positive or negative,” he told a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee this week.
He said that since April 2016 when a new Garda IT system was introduced, two sets of readings (start and finish) from the ‘Dräger’ roadside breath test machines have to be supplied to Castlebar, where all details are entered into the ‘Pulse’ system.
“Before that, it was done by people on the ground,” he said.
He said he was aware since last year that checks were being carried out nationally.
Figures presented at the meeting showed there were 7,076 breath tests performed in Galway City last year, down eleven per cent from the 7,952 in 2015 – drunk driving offences remained the same at 166.
He said that last weekend alone, there were eleven drink drivers arrested in the Galway Garda Division. “It’s definitely not going away,” he said.
Fine Gael city councillor Padraig Conneely said “fake news” came to mind when he looked now at statistics being provided by the Gardaí in relation to breath tests, speeding and fixed charge penalty notices.
Chief Supt Curley said he asked for the statistics for Galway Garda Division on Sunday, and hopes to have them this week.
Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!
A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!
The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.
“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!
“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!
“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.
The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.
They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.
“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.
Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site
A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.
A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.
Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.
It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.
“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”
Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.
“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.
“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.
Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.
“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.
“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.
“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.
“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.
“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.
Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.
“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.
Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island
Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.
The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.
According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.
As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.
Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.
Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.
A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.