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Heroin user died two weeks out of prison

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The inquiry into the death of 22 year old woman – two weeks out of prison when she died of an apparent overdose – heard that the heroin she was alleged to have taken would have hit her harder as she had been ‘clean’ while incarcerated.

Gemma Ridgard of John Coogan Park, Newcastle, was last seen alive by her father, Gavin – who has since died – in the early hours of April 4 last year.

She was living with him and his sister, following her release from prison two weeks earlier. The previous evening, he stated in his deposition to Gardaí, his daughter arrived into the house with a friend.

“My sister was distracted by her friend because she had tinfoil with her – Gemma said ‘It’s just the last time (to do heroin) Dad,’” he recalled.

At midday on April 4, he went in to check on her. He shook her but she did not wake up, and he thought that she had been knocked out by whatever she had taken.

He checked back again ten minutes later to find that she had no pulse. He attempted to resuscitate her, and rang for an ambulance. The crew got her breathing again and took her to UHG, but she died in the Intensive Care Unit at 10pm that evening.

Before carrying out a post-mortem examination the following day, consultant pathologist, Dr Margaret Sheehan, was given a clinical history of previous heroin use and depression, and incidents of deliberate self-harm.

She found no evidence of puncture wounds, except for those relating to medical intervention.

A blood sample was sent to the State laboratory, which found benzodizapines (‘downers’) at therapeutic levels, and Dr Sheehan admitted her surprise at the presence of methadone – a synthetic opioid, that is prescribed to reduce cravings for heroin – but there was no evidence of heroin itself, nor its break-down products.

“Heroin has a very short life, the drug breaks down between nine and ten minutes after being taken,” Dr Sheehan explained.

“It had been suggested that she had taken heroin up to 24 hours prior to her death, which could account for why I’m not finding the break-down products.”

Ms Ridgard’s mother, Colette, said that her daughter had not been on methadone, as she had been two weeks out of prison, was clean, so had no need for it.

Dr Sheehan, however, said that the blood results were very clear in that regard.

“She had taken methadone, and there was evidence of the break-down products…. If she had taken neither for a time, they would have hit her (harder),” she added.

She said that Ms Ridgard suffered liver and respiratory failure as a result, adding that the benzodiazapines may have reacted badly with the other drugs.

Dr Sheehan agreed with the Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, that it was reasonable to assume that this was an ‘opiate death’.

He returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, that death was due to opiate toxicity.

“This is further qualified by ‘misadventure’, in that she embarked on something that had a risk – she didn’t think the risk would materialise, but she died as a result.”

He offered his sincere sympathies to Ms Ridgard’s mother, and her partner, Mark, on the very tragic circumstances of her daughter’s death.

“I know your family has been visited with a lot of tragedy subsequently,” he said referring to the death of Gavin Ridgard and his sister, Patricia, in the same house last month.

Connacht Tribune

Development hailed as major boost in tackling local housing demand

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Artist’s impression...the proposed Claregalway housing development.

The green light has been given to a sizeable residential development in Claregalway, which was the subject both of strenuous opposition and support in the area.

An Bord Pleanála have granted planning permission for 111 houses and apartments in Claregalway following a strategic housing development application by K King Construction for the development at Lakeview, Claregalway.

Local councillor David Collins (FG) welcomed the decision saying that there was an urgent need for new housing in Claregalway given the demand.

And he also paid tribute to developer Walter King for offering land for the development of community facilities to the local area.

“We need the houses and we need the land so this decision satisfies Claregalway on both fronts,” Cllr Collins added.

The Athenry Oranmore area councillor also said that requirement that a certain number of houses be reserved for Irish speakers was also a boost to developing the language in the area – Claregalway is part of the Gaeltacht.

The higher planning authority ruled that the proposed development would constitute an acceptable residential density at this location and was also acceptable in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety.

They also said that the site could be drained satisfactorily and that surface water would not be an issue.

The site for the development measures over twelve acres in size and is located at the junction of the Lydican Road about three quarters of a mile from the village off the main Oranmore road.

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Carna’s Community Café raises a cuppa – and funds – for new Ukrainian arrivals

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Carna Community Café volunteers presenting a cheque to Irish Red Cross Conamara Area Director Niall O'Meachair (third from right); pictured are (from left) Máirín Ní Churraion, Kate Mulkerrins, Siobhán Kennedy, Tom Lane and Máire Ní Domhnaill.

Carna’s new Community Cafe has donated €1,000 to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal – thanks to the village’s love of tea, cake, and a good old chat.

The brainchild of a group of sea-swimming enthusiasts living in the area, the weekly café started just before Easter as a way to help people begin socialising again after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Looking to simply cover costs – with the café’s bakers and servers all volunteering and charging just a euro for a cup of tea or a piece of cake – the team decided any excess income would be donated to charity.

Little did they know that just five weeks later they would be passing on €1,000 to the Red Cross.

“The aim initially wasn’t to raise money at all, we just wanted to provide a friendly, welcoming and affordable place where people could come and have a chat and see each other again,” said Máirín Ní Churraoin, who runs the local Post Office.

“But it’s been proving more popular than we could have imagined, so we decided that any income generated has to go to a good cause – for this first donation we all felt the Red Cross Ukraine appeal was an obvious choice.”

The Ukraine appeal is even more fitting given the location of the Café: the dining room of the Carna Bay Hotel, which is currently providing accommodation to people who have fled the conflict.

“We’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic initiative, it’s just brilliant to see people coming out and socialising over a bit of cake again,” said Karl Rogers from the Carna Bay Hotel.

“And with the tea, musicians and chat, it’s a great way for our guests from Ukraine to meet local people and experience Irish culture first-hand.”

At the most recent event on Saturday May 7th, Irish Red Cross Conamara Area Director, Niall O’Meachair was on hand to collect a cheque for €1,000.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this money from the Community Café in Carna, and through the work of the Red Cross we’ll make sure it goes to helping people affected by this awful, awful conflict.”

The Community Café is held every Saturday in the Carna Bay Hotel, 10am to 12:30pm.

 

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Old stone-carved bank sign to be retained after community lobby

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Deputy Sean Canney outside the old Bank of Ireland building at Shop Street in Tuam.

An old stone carved sign on the front of a former bank building in the heart of Tuam is to be retained, following intense representations from the local business community.

The building is currently being renovated by the Department of Social Protection which is moving into the property over the coming months

Galway East TD Sean Canney received confirmation from the Department that the red brick building on Shop Street will retain the old Bank of Ireland name.

The Bank of Ireland was originally located at Shop Street in Tuam before moving to its current location at Dublin Road several decades ago.

The building on Shop Street was then occupied by the town library, which has since moved to the local Council offices, and now it is being renovated so that it can be occupied by the Department of Social Protection.

During the renovations of the old library building on Shop Street to make way for the new Intreo Centre, which brings together various social welfare services, the old stone carved sign was revealed.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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