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Jail for heroin addict who broke into schools



A Dublin heroin addict with a penchant for breaking into schools to feed his habit, has been sentenced to six months in prison for stealing valuable equipment from a city gaelscoil last year.

Joseph Bates (37), with addresses in Boyne Street, Dublin 2, and Haven House, 29 Phibsboro Road, Dublin 2, appeared in custody before Galway District Court, where he pleaded guilty at the last moment to breaking into Colaiste na Coiribe on the Tuam Road on February 18 last year and stealing a Samsung Galaxy tablet 2 worth €400 and a Panasonic projector worth €600.

Garda Conor Barrett gave evidence he received a call from the school’s principal, Stiofan O Cualain, and when he went to investigate he found the front door of the school was smashed in, along with three internal doors and a number of presses, at a total cost of €1,500.

The school’s Samsung Galaxy tablet, which contained valuable educational information, along with a projector, were stolen.

Garda Barrett said he viewed the school’s CCTV footage and took it to Dublin where Gardaí identified the accused for him.

He said colleagues from Dublin had travelled to court at great expense to the taxpayer to give evidence as Bates had initially indicated he was not going to plead to the charge. Judge Mary Fahy noted Bates had only changed his plea at the last moment.

Garda Barrett told her the children in the school – which has since relocated to Knocknacarra – were the biggest losers in this crime as valuable information had been contained for their benefit on the stolen equipment.

He said Bates had 46 previous convictions, with 12 of those for burglaries.

His latest conviction was recorded at Dunleary District Court on January 13, where Bates received a three-month sentence which was suspended for two years for causing €2,000 worth of damage during a break-in at a school last September.

He also received a two-and-a-half-year sentence last October at Dublin Circuit Court for burglary. In all, he is currently serving a 17-month sentence for offences dealt with by various District Courts in Kildare and Dublin areas, the court was told.

Defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor said her client – who is a father of five children – had no recollection of being in Galway due to the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time.

She said he had a chronic heroin addiction since the age of 12 but was now drug-free and doing quite well in prison.

Having seen the CCTV footage earlier that morning, her client now wished to plead guilty, she said.

She said Bates is currently serving sentences handed down by District and Circuit courts and is not due for release until August 28, 2017.

Judge Fahy pointed out the jurisdiction of the District Court could not exceed 24 months and as Bates was currently serving 17 months imposed by various district courts, she said the maximum she could impose was six months, which she made consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving.

She commended Garda Barrett’s detective work by going through the CCTV footage and bringing it to the Gardaí in Dublin who are familiar with the defendant, so that he could be positively identified.


Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service



The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.


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Park fun to mark Africa Day



Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’



At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon


A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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