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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

Galway City school relocates to the Races after flooding

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Winner alright! Winner alright! When a city Gaeltacht school effectively became homeless overnight due to flooding hell at Halloween, it turned adversity into opportunity by temporarily relocating to Galway Racecourse, which has been a massive success.

Disaster struck for Scoil Bhríde in Menlo during the October mid-term break when water from a suspected burst pipe flooded through the ceiling, damaging woodwork, electrics and equipment in classrooms.

Principal Máire De Brún, assistant principals Siobhán Ó Neill and Deirdre Ní Cheallaigh, and the board of management, chaired by Patricia Coleman, were faced with two options. The first was an emergency closure of the school for a week to fix the problem, which they ruled out.

“We took the bull by the horns and decided to go hell for leather and find another venue to house us so that the repairs could be done without pressure and so that the kids could continue school on the Monday after mid-term,” explained Ms De Brún.

The leak probably occurred on the Wednesday, and was discovered on Thursday, which gave only a few days to find a new school.

“When I look back on it, I don’t know how we did it,” laughed Ms De Brún.

First, she tried the Menlo Park Hotel, whose management was “extraordinarily helpful”. But because of Covid-19 restrictions, it couldn’t accommodate all 190 pupils in the school, pre-school and 10 staff.

Ballinfoile Community Hall was “absolutely fantastic” too, and agreed to house temporary classrooms. Those two venues still couldn’t cater for all students, and so Ms De Brún had to find another venue for two more classes.

“Someone suggested the Racecourse and we went out and met Michael [Moloney, Racecourse Manager] and said we just need it for two classes but when we were standing in the Killanin Stand, we said, ‘What are we thinking, let’s just move the whole lot out here and they’ll be under the one roof, they’ll have four floors, they’ll have plenty of space, they can run around outside?’,” she recalled.
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

Some Galway City pubs ‘will never reopen’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – There are several pubs in Galway that will never reopen their doors as a result of the “bitterly disappointing” decision to keep pubs closed under Covid-19 restrictions.

That’s according to the new Chair of Galway City branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Johnny Duggan, who said there were a number of pub owners who had already given up their leases and many more who found themselves in “serious difficulty” after being forced to stay closed for the best part of eight months.

From today (Friday), restrictions have been eased to allow for the reopening of restaurants and pubs that serve food. However, so-called ‘wet pubs’, which do not operate a kitchen, have been forced to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Mr Duggan said there were a number of publicans under severe pressure to meet rent and loan commitments, and without adequate support, the future remained very uncertain.

“What the Government has given is three double payments of the CRSS (Covid Restrictions Support Scheme), but that comes nowhere near what you would normally turn over at this time of year. It’s welcome, but it’s just not enough.

“There are an awful lot of people who won’t survive this,” he said.

Mr Duggan said publicans found it “very strange” that they had been allowed bring food in from off-site premises to satisfy the need for a substantial meal when restrictions were eased in the summer, but that option was not available this time around.
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 Garda chief appeals for ‘special’ Christmas effort

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has appealed to students and young people to make ‘one special effort’ over the Christmas holiday season to keep contact and travel to a minimum.

Yesterday (Thursday), some groups of students had organised mock ‘Christmas Day’ celebrations in keeping with the custom of recent years in the week before the end of the first semester at the city’s third-level colleges.

Gardaí had extra patrols on duty through the course of the day and last night to keep tabs on any improvised gatherings as part of their Covid-19 campaign in the run-up to Christmas.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley told the Galway City Tribune that the last thing the Gardaí wanted to do was to adopt what some people might describe as a ‘heavy-handed’ approach to gatherings of young people.

“The last eight months or so have been tough for all of us, but it has to be acknowledged that there has been a very high level of buy-in from everyone, including students and young people.

“We are at the point where a lot of progress in terms of containing the spread of Covid-19 has been made, but I suppose the key message we want to get out there now is to ‘stick with it’ over the coming weeks and months,” said Chief Supt Curley.

However, he did caution that if students or young people did break the law in terms of not abiding by the coronavirus regulations, they would be facing prosecution and a potential criminal conviction. “This is not what we want, or indeed what any student needs, as they look ahead to their career prospects,” he said.
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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