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CITY TRIBUNE

Jail sentence for habitual beggar on Galway’s streets

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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