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Connacht Tribune

Garda overhaul ‘will see additional feet on the beat’

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More community Gardaí will be assigned to towns across Galway under the ongoing roll-out of the State’s new policing model.

Under the new structure, Galway Garda Division will have two community engagement hubs – one in Galway City at Millstreet, and one in either Loughrea or Ballinasloe.

Each hub will be assigned community Garda superintendents, and they will ‘feed into’ what were the old Garda District headquarters of Clifden, Tuam, Loughrea and Gort.

Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said a new community Garda will be assigned to Salthill, and Oranmore was in line for a new permanent community Garda also.

Permanent community Gardaí will be stationed in Tuam, Clifden, Loughrea, Gort and Ballinasloe, he said.

Chief Supt Curley said there would be at least ten additional Gardaí assigned to community policing in the Galway Division, and more inspectors and sergeants.

An update on the new policing model, which has been unveiled previously, was given by Chief Supt Curley at the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee meeting.

He rejected suggestions that Connemara was not covered by the new community policing plan.

Cllr Pauline O’Reilly (Green) said a community engagement hub in the city and either Ballinasloe or Loughrea only, meant that, “Connemara will be left behind”. Cllr Owen Hanley (Soc Dems) said there was a “huge gap” for community policing in Connemara.

“Definitely not,” replied Chief Supt Curley, who added an inspector will be assigned to Clifden Garda Station, who will have an input into policing of Gaeltacht areas including Ros Muc, An Cheathrú Rua, An Spidéal and Indreabhán. Clifden and the Connemara Gaeltacht will be included in all monthly meetings with the community engagement superintendents, he said.

He pointed out that he has assigned Gardaí to stations in rural County Galway that had no Gardaí for some time, including Corofin, Milltown and Milltown.

The ‘job description’ of the new police is being drawn up, he said, but they will have a “dual role, not just community Gardaí”.

Asked by chair of the JPC, Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) if he had adequate staffing levels to roll-out the new model, Chief Supt Curley said he was “over 90% staffed, which is very good” but he would continue to lobby for more. “I’m not shy when it comes to looking for resources and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

As Gardaí are deployed to community policing there will be a ‘back fill’ that needs to be filled.

He acknowledged that no new Gardaí were assigned to Galway in the latest passing out ceremony from Templemore but he was confident Galway would get more graduates in the next round, as well as some more established Gardaí reassigned from around the country.

Under the new policing model, the number of Garda Divisions has been reduced from 29 to 19. Galway Garda Division has been left as Galway City and County, and not joined to any other county, which was “a good thing”, said Chief Supt Curley.

After 96 years, he said it was time for An Garda Síochána to change because communities have changed, crime has changed and the workforce has changed.

As part of the overhaul, Galway had been chosen as a pilot for the new policing model and so it is already well advanced with a civilianisation of the Force, he said. For example, 999 calls are now answered by civilians stationed at the new North Western Regional HQ and Divisional HQ at Murrough in Renmore in the city. “When you’re doing something for 37 years, and you have to change, then you have to bring people with you,” he said adding that the new model was “all about the frontline”.

Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) said the new policing model was a “good news story”.

Connacht Tribune

Just the spirit

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Gareth and Michelle McAllister pictured at the old mill in Ahascragh where the new whiskey and gin distillery will be estabished. Photos: Gerry Stronge.

A former grain mill in the village of Ahascragh is being converted into a distillery thanks to Gareth and Michelle McAllister who have big plans to meet growing demand for craft Irish whiskey and gin in the Far East as well as closer to home. They are also developing a visitor centre in the distillery and are currently offering people a chance to invest in their company as DECLAN TIERNEY learns.

A product that will be developed in the East Galway village of Ahascragh will find its way Asia and various other parts of the world following a courageous initiative by a couple who aim to become huge names in the distillery industry.

Given their thirst for the distilling of craft whiskey and gin, Dublin couple Gareth and Michelle McAllister are set to put the tiny village on the international map by transforming an old corn mill into a major employer as well as a tourist attraction as part of a €10 million investment.

Works have already started on giving the old mill, previously an ivy-clad eyesore in the village, a brand-new look and the couple hope to go into full production by the end of next year – ready for the 2022 Christmas market.

Employment has already commenced in the marketing and administration end of the distillery and when it’s in full production, Gareth and Michelle will create around 40 new jobs in the village.

They will be producing two whiskey products and one gin when they’re at full capacity but already they are bottling a single malt under their own product name. This is currently on the market . . . and is proving particularly popular, despite limited availability at the moment.

The distillery is a labour of love for Gareth, a chemical engineer by profession, and Michelle who worked as a psychologist but is now operating the café in Ahascragh that they opened earlier this year to coincide with the launch of the distillery.

Both worked in China for seven years in different roles and while there, they discovered that there was a big demand for Irish-made spirits. They are now determined to explore this particular niche in the market as well as developing outlets across Europe and in the market here at home.

“This has been foremost in our plans and aspirations for some considerable time,” explained Gareth. “Since our time in Asia and Singapore we discovered that Irish spirits were a much sought-after product. As part of my training as a chemical engineer, distilling formed part of this.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Fascinating final in store but St Thomas’ hold most of the aces

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Salthill/Knocknacarra's Niall McGauran on the attack against Luke Murray of Dunmore MacHales during Saturday's County U19 football A final at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ST Thomas’ will be attempting to achieve what has proven beyond three great Galway club hurling teams over the past 30 years when targeting a four-in-a-row of senior titles at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. During their respective periods of dominance Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna were nearly untouchable on their best days, but winning four consecutive county senior hurling championships proved a bridge too far for each of these former powers.

Athenry went the closest of them all. Heading to Duggan Park in October 2001 – the last senior final to be played in Ballinasloe – Pat Nally’s troops stood 60 minutes away from claiming a fourth title on the trot. The red-hot favourites came mightily close too, only losing by a point (0-18 to 2-11) to a Clarinbridge outfit winning their first ever title.

Portumna pulled off the title hat-trick in 2009, but didn’t make it back to the following year’s final, and while Sarsfields – under Michael Conneely – triumphed in 1992, ’93 and ’95, they came unstuck in the 1994 decider when falling to Athenry (2-6 to 0-9). These three clubs were outstanding ambassadors for Galway club hurling, but there was no four-in-a row for any of them.

It underlines how difficult the achievement is and we must go back to the Turloughmore team of the sixties for a club to enjoy such an extended stranglehold on the county championship. They ended up winning six titles on the trot, but have only won the one since – in 1985 when overcoming Killimordaly (1-14 to 1-4) at Pearse Stadium.

Given that St Thomas’ are only one hour away from a fourth consecutive title, it’s curious that they are not yet held in the same awe as Sarsfields, Athenry or Portumna when they were at the peak of their powers. Perhaps, their lone All-Ireland club success up to now may have some influence in this regard.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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.

 

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Students see red over in-person exams

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NUIG.

NUI Galway has moved this week to deny accusations that it is ‘playing Russian Roulette’ with students’ wellbeing by proceeding with in-person exams.

The Students’ Union blasted the university for its decision to forge ahead with examinations in exam halls amid sky-rocketing Covid-19 cases.

President of the SU, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, slammed college authorities for what she described as a ‘reckless attitude to students’ health and wellbeing’.

“The stubborn refusal by university management is playing Russian Roulette with the health of students and their families.

“We are talking about forcing people to attend multiple spreader-events right before they go home to their families for Christmas. This is reckless and irresponsible from university management, particularly when there is a tried and trusted alternative available,” said the student leader.

In-person exams for the vast majority of students were cancelled last year as the university remained closed throughout the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions.

However, students have been back attending lectures since September and NUIG plans to proceed with normal exams for the first time since Summer 2019 – albeit with a number of risk mitigating measures in place.

The Connacht Tribune has learned that following applications by in excess of 500 students for ‘reasonable accommodation’ – where certified conditions that increase the risk of adverse reaction to Covid infection – there will be 1,600 instances where exams will be sat in individual rooms.

It is understood that there are 16 exam venues this year – a much greater number than in previous years – and that additional cleaning measures including ‘air fogging’ will be carried out to sanitise large venues.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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