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CITY TRIBUNE

Heroin dealer caught red-handed by Gardaí in patrol car

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A chronic heroin addict and dealer who smokes the drug every day he can afford to, was caught red-handed cycling his bike with six ‘deals’ of heroin held tightly in his fist.

On another occasion, Alan Murphy (45), of 43 St James Crescent, Mervue, flushed the drug away when Gardaí called to his home to carry out a drugs search.

Murphy denied having the heroin for sale or supply to others at Dublin Road, Galway on September 9, 2017.

He also denied a separate charge of obstructing Gardaí from the Divisional Drugs Unit who called to his home in Mervue to carry out a drugs search on February 14 last year.

Garda PJ Noone gave evidence at the contested hearing at Galway District Court last week that he was driving a patrol car, accompanied by Sergeant Peter McGuinness and Garda Sheena Gill, when they noticed Murphy on a bicycle stopped at traffic lights near the Bon Secours Hospital.

He said Murphy was a known heroin user and he let down the driver’s window while they were stopped at a red light to speak to him.

Garda Noone said he noticed Murphy was holding something tightly in his clenched fist. He asked him to open his fist and Murphy complied revealing six small bags of heroin ‘deals’.

Murphy told Gardaí the drugs were for his own use.  He said he had just bought them for €160 from a person five minutes before he was stopped.

Defence solicitor, Sean Acton, said the Gardaí in the car knew his client well and he had made no attempt to cycle away and had handed over what he had in his fist.

“He is a known, chronic drug-user and he’s making no bones about that and unfortunately, he is still a user,” Mr Acton said of his client.

Garda Noone said he believed Murphy was a heroin dealer in the Mervue area.  Noting Murphy had been cycling in the opposite direction from where he lived, he said it was his opinion that Murphy was holding drugs in his fist as he cycled around selling the drug.

“Six bags is too much heroin for one person’s use.  A normal user would use one bag per day but having six bags is too much,” Garda Noone added.

Mr Acton said Murphy bought the heroin in bulk for €160 as it worked out cheaper that way and he smoked a bag a day.

He said Murphy was getting €191 dole every week and spent it on heroin.

Murphy told Judge Mary Fahy he had been smoking heroin “on and off” for the last 15 years or so. He said the six bags he had just bought would last him the week and were for himself.

He said he smoked the heroin at home and was on the way to the shop to buy cigarettes at the time the Gardai stopped him.

“I smoke a bag of heroin a day if I have the money for it. A bag costs €25,” Murphy said from the witness box.

In a separate incident, which occurred on January 15 last year, Garda PJ Noone said he went with the same colleagues to carry out a drugs search at Murphy’s home in Mervue. He knocked on the door and after a while Murphy came down stairs and opened the sitting room window.

Garda Noone said he told him he had a warrant to search the house.  He said Murphy pushed him back from the window and ran out of the room.

Garda Noone and Garda Gill climbed in the window and ran upstairs to Murphy’s bedroom. He wasn’t there.

Then they heard a toilet flushing downstairs and when they went down, they saw Murphy coming out of the toilet.

Garda Noone said he believed Murphy had flushed drugs down the toilet.  They were never recovered.

Judge Mary Fahy convicted Murphy of both offences.

She said one would always have sympathy for an addict, but people who were dealing drugs were rendering other people addicts.

“There is no reason why he can’t rehabilitate. There’s no reason for him to carry on in this trade, peddling death,” Judge Fahy said.

She sentenced Murphy to six months in prison for having the heroin for sale to others and she imposed a consecutive five-month term for obstructing Gardai during the drugs search at his home.  Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

CITY TRIBUNE

‘Positive response’ to plan for new Wolfe Tone walkway

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From the Galway City Tribune – The submissions process in relation to the new pedestrian walkway to be put in place on the south side of Wolfe Tone Bridge has now closed.

The project – estimated to cost in the region of €1 million – is expected to start later this year once the Part 8 planning process – where the councillors will ultimately decide on whether to proceed – has been completed.

It will involve the provision of a 50-metre steel cantilever (no centre supports) walkway on the southern aspect of Wolfe Tone Bridge as well as a widening of the existing adjoining footpath.

A feature of the proposal will be the provision of a new signalised ‘rainbow pride’ pedestrian crossing on the eastern approach to the bridge.

According to Galway City Council Senior Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, the new pedestrian bridge crossing will be a major positive development in terms of facilitating the increasing numbers of people walking from the city centre towards the Claddagh/West area of the city.

“There has been a very positive response to the proposal for the provision of this extra pedestrian facility which will complement a similar walkway on the northern side of the bridge.

“The new signalised rainbow pride crossing on the eastern side of the bridge will also make it safer and improve access for pedestrians using this route,” said Mr Finn.

He added that the proposal would probably be coming up for approval at the September meeting of the City Council with plans for the new structure to begin shortly after.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Greenway plan moves up a gear

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The design phase of the Galway to Oughterard Greenway will begin in 2023, Galway County Council has confirmed.

Several potential routes are now ‘on the table’ – with the information website for the project now ‘gone live’ until mid-July – to enable all interested parties to look at the options and make submissions.

David Joyce, Engineer with Aecom Consultants, said that the preferred route for the greenway was likely to emerge in the first quarter of 2023 followed by the design phase later in the year.

He told Conamara area councillors at a meeting that a cycle track would be part of the greenway – three metres wide for most of the route widening to five metres closer to the city.

Initially, the potential routes would have 200 metre corridors to ‘capture everything’, said Mr Joyce, but that width would be reduced in the final preferred option.

In response to queries from a number of councillors, he said that at least two to three of the options did not envisage using the current N59 roadway for the greenway.

“There will be extensive face-to-face consultations with the public before any decision on the final preferred route,” said Mr Joyce.

County Councillor Noel Thomas (FF) said that in his view it would be better if the greenway did not use the existing roads network while Cllr Eileen Mannion (FG) asked about the necessity for 200-metre-wide corridor options.

Cllr Tom Welby (Ind.) said that the Clifden to Oughterard section of the greenway would be using the old railway line route which only involved a corridor width of about 50 metres.

In the city, Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) said the project would serve as a route for cyclists and also as a tourist attraction.

“The delivery of the Conamara to Galway Greenway will bring so many benefits to Galway City and County. This week, this project moved a step closer and I hope there is progressive engagement with all stakeholders in the coming months.

“URDF (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund) funding was received last year for the development of a bridge along the pillars of the old Clifden Railway line at Woodquay. This is the proposed landing point for the Greenway coming into Galway city.

“This project can serve as both an active travel route for cyclists and also a major tourist attraction for visitors and I just hope it can progress and be delivered in the coming years,” said Cllr Hoare.

A total of €11 million in URDF funding was allocated last year for a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Corrib – along the buttresses for the old Clifden railway line, which is regarded as forming an integral part of the city’s cycle network.

(Image: an architect’s impression of how that cycle and walkway over the Corrib would look).

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CITY TRIBUNE

Public order offences on the rise in Galway

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From the Galway City Tribune – Galway is headed in the wrong direction unless anti-social behaviour and public order problems are sorted, a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee has been told.

Former mayor Mike Crowe said: “There are too many people begging; there are too many people sleeping rough; and there are too many people drinking on the corner of the streets, organised drinking.”

The Fianna Fáil councillor said he was not surprised that the official Garda crime report had confirmed that public order offences detected in the first five months of this year were up by 26%.

That represented 46 additional cases compared with last year, bringing the total number of public order offences in the first five months of 2022 in Galway City to 225.

“It needs to be addressed; I think Galway is on a precipice,” he said.

Cllr Crowe said that the City Council, through various housing charities, had provided ample resources to ensure that homeless people were accommodated.

“There is no need to be sleeping rough,” he said. He added there was no need for tents to be erected along the city’s main shopping thoroughfare by rough sleepers.

Another former mayor, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) agreed and suggested that some people who were sleeping rough were not homeless as all, and they were involved in ‘organised begging’. He claimed that many of those sleeping rough ‘were all gone off the streets by 3am and 4am’ when revellers have gone home. “They’re making a living at it [begging]”, he said.

Chair of the JPC, Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab) said if anyone had evidence that begging was being carried out by an organised gang then they needed to supply that information to Gardaí.

Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley agreed and said that evidence not rumour was needed in order to bring prosecutions and secure convictions.

Cllr Crowe and Cllr Fahy said the Garda presence at Eyre Square, 24-hours every day, was having a positive impact, and Chief Supt Curley said public order offences have reduced in the city centre since that additional resource was deployed to the Square.

Cllr Fahy, however, said that “public drinking and public urination” remained a problem.

Cllr Crowe welcomed a commitment from Superintendent Damien Flanagan, who was now responsible for policing Galway City, that a “permanent presence of Gardaí is in place in Eyre Square” and would remain there.

Supt Flanagan clarified that that meant a Garda or Gardaí would be in Eyre Square “at all times”.

He also said he was liaising with Galway City Council on some design issues in Eyre Square that could be changed to deter anti-social behaviour and discourage people from congregating there for drinking.

Chief Supt Curley said that he would prefer to use the Gardaí elsewhere but he acknowledged that a 24/7 Garda presence in Eyre Square was working, and would be deemed a success if it saved even one victim from suffering a serious assault.

There were 17 offences of ‘begging’ detected in the first five months of the year, down 29%.

Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) said begging in itself was “not a crime”, it was “a failure of society”.

The offence relates to people who are causing an obstruction or nuisance while begging; begging beside an ATM is also an offence.

The Galway City Tribune is in shops every Friday, or to buy online HERE

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