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Illegal cigarettes in Galway have doubled in the past year

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The prevalence of illicit cigarettes in Galway has doubled in the past twelve months, a nationwide survey has revealed.

 

The survey of discarded cigarette packets on the streets and in bins in Galway found that 30.7% were non-domestic, meaning they had no Irish duty-paid stamp on them.

The  National Federation of Retail Newsagents admits that some of these packets were brought into the country legitimately by holidaymakers in Spain and other European countries.

The Revenue Commissioners’ figures suggest that about 8% of all packages are legitimately imported in that they were brought in legally by holidaymakers. That still means that over 22% are smuggled, according to the survey, which is still an increase on last year. 

However, Joe Sweeney, President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) in Ireland, told the Connacht Sentinel that many holidaymakers were importing cigarettes in excess of the numbers they are allowed.

“We know people are bringing more in and selling the cigarettes here to finance their holidays. But the amount of cigarettes being smuggled in by holidaymakers is only a drop in the ocean compared to the big smuggling operations. The figure Revenue tells us, based on airport checks, is that 8% of the non-Irish duty packets of cigarettes are bought and imported legitimately (by holidaymakers),” he said.

Galway was ranked sixth of 22 cities and towns surveyed across the country; and was nearly three points above the national average of 27.9%. The current figure of 30.7% for Galway is a huge surge from the same survey twelve months ago when it was measured at 15.4%.

The survey was undertaken between April and June 2013 by MS Intelligence which specialises in brand and intellectual property protection. The highest incidence of illegal cigarettes in 22 major population centres across the country was found in Drogheda (32.8%), Tallaght (32.8%) and Athlone (32.4%). The lowest was Clonmel (19.6%). The overall figure for Dublin was 27.4%.

The national survey information was gathered through collecting a sample of 5,000 discarded packages from the streets and easy access bins across the country. From the sample, 300 of the discarded packs were collected in Galway.

Mr Sweeney said:  “The huge scale of the illegal cigarette trade in Galway has reached a level where it is destroying local jobs due to the drop in revenue from legal tobacco sales. Retail newsagents’ shops depend heavily on legal tobacco sales to also drive additional purchases. Illegal tobacco sales lead to a loss of footfall which hits other product sales.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday

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A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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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