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Jail for Lithuanian heroin gang member

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A member of a Lithuanian gang which has been supplying heroin in Galway city for the last year, has been sentenced to twelve months in prison for obstructing Gardai during a drugs search.

Audrius Stanionis (46), had only been in the country for two weeks when he was arrested and taken into custody last September.

He told Garda at the time he lived at 21 Sylvan Avenue, Fairlands Park, Newcastle.

He appeared in custody before Galway District Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to obstructing Det Noel McNulty during the course of a drugs search.

Det McNulty gave evidence he and Garda Cathal Rodgers were on duty in the Headford Road area, investigating the activities of a Lithuanian gang involved in dealing heroin, when at 12.45p.m. on September 22 last they noticed Stanionis acting suspiciously by walking up and down the footpath for no apparent reason in the wooded area between Galway Retail Park and Quincentenary Bridge.

Det McNulty said they noticed a number of known heroin users were in the vicinity at the time.

He said the accused ran off when he approached and told him he was a Garda and he wanted to search him.

He saw Stanionis put several small bags of heroin in his mouth as he ran off.

Garda McNulty gave chase and arrested him.

With the aid of an interpreter, Stanionis denied he was a heroin dealer. He said he ran off because he saw a man running towards him and he didn’t know he was a Garda.

He denied he had put bags of heroin in his mouth before he ran off.

Imposing a 12-month sentence on Stanionis, Judge Mary Fahy said he was part of a gang and it was quite obvious drugs were being brought into the country.

“Their modus operandi is to deal in heroin. Unfortunately, I think we have a potential problem in this city already without people coming in with more,” she said.

The 12-month sentence was backdated to September 22, when the accused was first taken into custody.  Leave to appeal was also granted on the accused lodging half of €1,000 and an independent surety lodging half of another €1,000.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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