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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

GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28

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Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline

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Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

State cracks down on quick-buck landlords

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New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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