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Jail for addict caught with €3,000 of heroin in bedroom



A drug dealing mother has been jailed for seven months after Gardai found €3,000 worth of heroin stashed in a pillow during a search of her bedroom.

Sarah Howlett (27), of 323 Castle Park, Ballybane, pleaded guilty at Galway District Court in July to having the heroin in her possession and having the drug for sale or supply to others on January 21 last.

Garda Barry Nugent found the heroin hidden in her pillow and in the sleeve of her jacket while searching Howlett’s bedroom.

Sentence was adjourned to this week’s court for the preparation of a probation report. However, while Howlett was out on bail she was caught in a Garda sting operation when she sold heroin to a undercover garda in Eyre Square on August 19 last. She also pleaded guilty to a series of shoplifting offences.

Handing letters from the HSE into court in July, defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor told visiting Judge Marie Keane that Howlett’s situation was “absolutely dire” when Gardai raided her home in January and found the heroin.

Howlett’s children are in care and their father died in tragic circumstances, Ms Traynor added.

“She was using a bag of heroin a day and Gardai feel she will be dead in a very short period of time if she does not get help,” Mr Traynor said at the time.She asked Judge Keane to adjourn sentence to give Howlett a chance to link in with the support services and see if she would engage with the probation service and get more help for her addiction.

Judge Keane adjourned the matter to this week’s court for a probation report.

Reading the report in court this week, Judge Mary Fahy observed Howlett needed to be stable before she could receive help.

Mr Traynor said her client realised she would be getting a custodial sentence and she had come to court with her bags packed.

The most important thing, she said, would be that her client get into a residential treatment centre straight from prison.

“She’s a addict and she’s aware she needs help. She is desperate at this stage to get into treatment,” Ms Traynor added.

Judge Fahy sentenced Howlett to seven months in prison for the heroin drug dealing charge and imposed a concurrent one-month sentence for possession of the drug.

She imposed a consecutive five-month sentence for selling heroin to a undercover Garda, but suspended it for two years on condition Howlett attend a residential treatment centre direct from Dochas, the women’s prison, and remain there until the treatment programme was completed.

She is also to link in with the probation service within 48 hours of her release and be of good behaviour.

A one-month consecutive sentence was imposed for the theft of clothing from Next, because the offence occurred while Howlett was out on bail.

Judge Fahy imposed a concurrent three-month sentence on her for driving without insurance and disqualified her from driving for four years.

One-month concurrent sentences were imposed for the remaining charges.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors



Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre



An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis



Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

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