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Connacht Tribune

Jail for church thief with sticky fingers

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A man with a penchant for stealing cash from church collection boxes by using a piece of sticky tape attached to a length of wire has been jailed for fourteen months.

Charles Cunniffe (35), with former addresses in Tuam and Headford, and more recently Cope Day Centre, Seamus Quirke Road, Galway, appeared in custody before Galway District Court this week where he became belligerent and insulting towards Judge Mary Fahy and towards barrister, James Charity, who had been appointed to represent him under the Free Legal Aid scheme.

Cunniffe pleaded guilty last October to several charges of theft from churches around the city and to other offences. Sentence was adjourned to this week for the preparation of a probation report.

He had admitted having a length of wire with sticky tape attached with the intention of using it in connection with the theft of small amounts of cash from St. Nicholas’ Church, Market Street, on June 16 last; from Barna Church on August 6;  from Sacred Heart Church, Westside, on July 6; and from the Franciscan Abbey on August 13.

He also pleaded guilty to burglary at Colaiste Iognaid, Sea Road, on February 28 last and to another charge of burglary at Costa, Quay Street, on September 10.

Cunniffe further pleaded guilty to assaulting a man at Gala, Prospect Hill, on February 28 last and to driving without    insurance or a driving licence on October 21 last year.

Reading the probation report, which had been handed into court, Judge Fahy said the probation officer was recommending Cunniffe be assessed by a psychiatrist prior to sentence taking place.

Cunniffe became abusive and insulting towards the judge and his barrister on several occasions during the hearing.

Judge Fahy advised him to stay quiet unless he had something positive to say.  Otherwise, she said, she would have him removed from the court room and would sentence him in his absence, if he so wished.

Cunniffe promptly sat down, flanked by two prison guards and remained quiet as sentence was passed.

Judge Fahy sentenced him to seven months in prison for the burglary at ‘the Jes’ and imposed further consecutive sentences totalling seven months on some of the other theft and burglary charges, bringing the total to be served to fourteen months.

She imposed concurrent sentences on the remaining charges and disqualified him from driving for two years on the no insurance charge.

Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

Cunniffe was also remanded in custody to appear in court via video link from the prison on December 3 in relation to two new charges.

He was charged by Garda Pat Casey this week with assaulting a woman at Bar One, Prospect Hill, on October 29 last and to breaching the peace on the same occasion.

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

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

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