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Garda chief’s warning to would-be vigilantes

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Galway’s Garda Chief was told by one man during a discussion on rural crime this week – I have a shotgun and I’ll protect my family at all costs.

But Chief Superintendent Tom Curley strenuously warned homeowners not to take matters into their own hands by arming themselves in an attempt to protect their properties from intruders.

At this week’s public meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Oranmore, Chief Supt Curley said that although there had been an overall decrease of five per cent in the number of burglaries this year, it was “nothing to cheer about.”

The meeting heard from a local man who said that he would not hesitate to use his legally-held shotgun to scare off would-be burglars. “I’ll protect my wife, and my property at all costs,” he said.

However, the Garda Chief would not condone this plan of action. “There is no way I’m going to say ‘this is the way to go’ – we haven’t lost the battle,” he replied.

“If you use excessive force, who’s going to be up before the judge? We have cars, and we will respond to it. I could not support or give advice that we should tackle people. They may have an iron bar or weapons themselves, and there could be several fatalities.”

He added that €5m was being spent on overtime for Gardaí to work in the area of crime prevention.

Most residential burglaries, he said, take place between the hours of 5pm and 10pm.

“We run out to the shop, and don’t lock the door,” he said.

“Twenty seven per cent of burglars go through the front door – how many people still leave their key under the geranium pot, or the red bin – that’s the first place the gurrier will look.”

A quarter of all burglars access a home through a rear door, and 28% through a rear window that has been left open.

“There are 850-odd burglaries every year in Galway city and county,” he added.

“Homes that look unoccupied they break into. You think you’re saving on your light bill, but leave two or three on when you go out.”

He said that there may be a suggestion that thieves are following delivery trucks to new or unoccupied homes, and proceed to steal all the white goods from within.”

He encouraged home owners to invest in inexpensive CCTV systems, which serve as an excellent deterrent.

In relation to Galway’s easy access for criminals from other cities, due to the motorway network, he assured members and the public alike that Galway Divisional Unit was not isolated.

“If we have information, we team up with the national support unit – there are half a dozen gangs coming out of the different locations, but they are being monitored. We have successes, but people have to be vigilant.”

Cllr Mary Hoade who said that the coming of winter, and with it the dark evenings, the Community Alert Schemes must kick into action.

She particularly mentioned elderly and vulnerable people living on their own

The Garda Chief agreed.

“It is very important this time of year to energise the community alert schemes – the sticker on the door is not enough,” he said.

“Where we have joined-up thinking, we have been very successful.”

He said that protecting the elderly and vulnerable was high on his agenda, and had addressed this issue with Gardaí in the 30-odd stations (of a total of 46) that he has visited recently.

“With data protection, it is not easy to get data from the various agencies. I was in Clifden last week, and we have identified all the vulnerable people – living on their own, or with little contact with family or neighbours.

“Each Garda has been given two people to visit twice a month. In Galway City it is a bigger job, but we are tackling it.

“People are crying out for a Garda to visit them, that’s the feedback I’m getting.

“Being from rural Ireland, myself, I recognise the importance of being out there and engaging with people.”

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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