A man who sat in a sleeping bag as he begged in Galway City Centre last December, had travelled specially from his home in Athlone to do so, Galway District Court heard.
In imposing a one-month sentence, Judge Mary Fahy said that she could not get past the fact that the defendant had been on bail at the time.
“He was three times (caught) in Galway doing the same thing, and on bail (at the time),” she said.
Romanian national, Petru Muntean (34), with an address at 85 Thornbury Drive, Willow Park, Athlone, pleaded guilty to engaging in begging, and obstructing the passage of people at Upper Abbeygate Street on Saturday, December 2 last, contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2011.
Garda Mary Freeley had told the court that the city centre was particularly busy at the time when she observed the defendant in a sleeping bag by the side of the street.
The court heard that he had two previous convictions for similar offences, and one for handling stolen property. The latest one was imposed on December 4 last year – two days after he was caught begging by Garda Freeley.
“He was on bail when this occurred,” Judge Fahy remarked.
His solicitor, Elaine Murphy, said that her client told her he had come to Galway to sell the Big Issue magazine, but that this “didn’t work out.” She handed in a death certificate for the defendant’s aunt, whose funeral he had recently attended in Romania, the reason given for missing his initial court appearance.
“He comes up from Athlone, he’s not employed, he has no means, but he can go back to Romania to the funeral of his aunt at short notice,” Judge Fahy replied.
“We all know that it costs a lot of money to fly anywhere at short notice . . . this occurred while he was on bail from this court for a similar offence, and he knew that.”
Ms Murphy offered her client’s apologies for his absence from court, and added that his pregnant wife was very anxious about the case. She asked that if a sentence was to be imposed, that the Judge would consider suspending it on condition that he stays out of Galway.
“I can’t make a fool out of the court by suspending it,” came the reply.
“He received a fine for €2,000 for handling stolen property, and he’s not employed. I’m sure it wasn’t paid. I can’t get away from the fact that he was on bail to be of good behaviour – he’s really tearing it now.”
The Judge proceeded to impose a one month sentence. Recognisances were fixed, in the event of an appeal, on his own surety of €200 and an independent surety of €300, half to be lodged in each case.
The conditions are that he must stay away from Galway City and County, pending completion of any appeal.
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.