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Judge locks up violent criminal for nine years

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A man who claims he turned to a life of crime because he had the same name as his uncle, has received sentences totalling nine years in prison with the final eighteen months suspended.

Gerard Barry (23), from 15 Glenbaun, Ballybane, received the sentences at Galway Circuit Criminal Court for a spate of sometimes violent offences committed across the city in recent years while he was out on bail.

Barry was already serving a seven-month sentence, imposed at Galway District Court in February, for stealing a tourist’s luggage from a bus.

He appeared before the Circuit Court in March where he pleaded guilty to burglary at a house in Slieve Rua, Ballybane and to stealing a car from outside the house on October 4 last year  – a month after the theft from the bus.

He also pleaded guilty to the robbery of €50 cash from a man at Newcastle Road on the same date.

Barry further pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of another man at Doughiska Road on October 8 last and to producing a blade during the course of that attempted robbery.

Garda Jason Kelly said the first set of charges before the court related to the attempted robbery at Fearann Rí, Doughiska on September 8 last year.

He said a young man was sitting in his car with three of his friends when Barry and another youth approached.

Barry asked the driver for a light and then asked him if he had any weapons or knives in the car. The young man said he didn’t carry any weapons.

Barry said he should because people like him could be around.  He then pulled a Stanley blade on the driver and ordered him to hand over his money and mobile phone. The driver refused and Barry tried to force open the driver’s door.

Barry lunged in the driver’s window with the blade and tried to hit the driver’s arm but the young man managed to fend Barry off while starting the engine.  Barry tried to pull the keys out of the ignition but the young man succeeded in driving off.

The driver made a complaint to Gardaí and identified Barry for them, but he managed to evade arrest until October 4 last year, when he was arrested for another offence.

He admitted during a second interview that he had tried to rob the driver at knifepoint.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy, said the driver was a foreign national.  He didn’t want to make a victim impact statement and had told Gardaí he just wanted to put the encounter behind him.

Garda Kelly confirmed Barry had 38 previous convictions for thefts, burglaries, blackmail and extortion, dangerous driving, stealing cars, damaging property, robbery, hit and run and various other road traffic offences.

Defence barrister, Geri Silke said all of Barry’s offences started when a member of his family was arrested for a serious criminal offence.

“He has the same name.  It’s been following him around all the time,” she said.

Garda David Foley gave evidence that on October 4 last year, Barry forced the rear door of a house in Slieve Rua with a crowbar while the occupants were asleep upstairs. He stole a set of car keys and stole a car parked outside on the driveway.

Garda Foley said a lot of damage was done to the car and it’s owner was very upset.

The Garda read the young man’s victim impact statement to the court.

“Everything I worked for and saved for was taken that night by someone who never worked a day in his life.

“My mode of transport which I used to earn my living was taken away from me.

“We got a dog and fitted new locks in our home.

“When someone breaks into your home, suddenly it’s not your home any more,” he said.

The young man went on to explain the economic cost he had to endure as a result of Barry’s actions.

He said he had to get taxis to work and his car, which he had worked so hard for, was destroyed.

“It’s difficult to pick up the pieces of this mess, but at least my mother can sleep at night now, knowing he can’t break in again for a few years, thank God,” he added.

Garda Emmet Rock gave evidence in relation to a robbery which took place outside the Londis shop in Newcastle on October 4 last year – a short time after Barry stole the car from outside the house in Slieve Rua.

He said a van driver stopped to get a coffee and parked across the road from the shop.

As he was leaving the shop a youth in a silver car called him over and told him he had just been stopped for drunken driving and he then demanded the man give him all his money.

The man became frightened and ran to his van but Barry followed him, kicking him in the legs.

The man managed to get into the van but Barry punched him three times in the jaw.

Barry tried to get into the driver’s seat and tried to take the keys out of the ignition, but something spooked him and he stopped and ran over to the car.

It was the car he had stolen earlier that night from outside the house in Slieve Rua.

Garda Rock read the man’s victim impact statement to the court.

“Not in a million years did I think this would happen.  I was on the was on the way to work that night when I stopped to get a coffee.

“I no longer like driving at night. I frighten very easily now and I get nervous if strangers approach me,” he said.

The man said he had to tell his young children what had happened when they quizzed him about the cuts on his face.

“They worry all the time now when I leave the house and that is something they should not have to go through,” he said in his statement.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy said Barry pleaded guilty in   November 2014 to a spate of burglaries and criminal damage charges.  He had subsequently failed to keep any appointments with the probation service.

The service deemed Barry to be at a very high risk of re-offending in February 2015.

Mr Fahy reminded Judge Rory McCabe that he let Barry out on bail that February on condition he attend Hyde Park treatment centre and remain there until his course of treatment was complete.

However, Barry left that treatment centre shortly after going there and went drinking and taking drugs.

He has been in custody since his arrest on October 4 last year for the theft of the car and the subsequent attack on the van driver that night.

Ms Silke confirmed Barry had gone to Hyde Park treatment centre last July but left it when he was asked to confront issues from his childhood.

She said his criminal behaviour began in 2009 after his uncle who has the same name, committed “a serious offence.”

She said he turned to drink and drugs, but since going into prison (for the District Court offences) he had managed to avoid drugs and now had a cleaning job.

“He’s a gorgeous young man, a lovely young man when he’s not drinking,” Ms Silke observed.

Judge McCabe pointed out all of these serious offences were committed while Barry was out on bail for the 2014 burglary and criminal damage offences.

He said Barry had been given many opportunities by courts in the past to take hold of his life but had chosen not to do so.

Reading reports handed into court, the judge said Barry’s psychological profile showed he had no psychiatric disorder.

Given the significant criminal history, the Judge said there was no getting away from a custodial sentence.

He then imposed various sentences totalling nine years.

He suspended the final 18 months of the sentence giving Barry further credit for time already spent inside.

Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Workers leave hospitality sector to seek job security

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Pearse Doherty...morale has never been lower.

The severe restrictions for hospitality and entertainment are widely expected to be lifted next month – but already workers in the sector are reportedly leaving in their droves to source more stable employment.

And that could spell disaster for Galway’s vibrant arts industry which is a crucial cog in the wheel of local tourism.

When Covid regulations are eased for those staging events – thought to be announced this week – one of their biggest challenges is to secure staff for operations, according to prominent Galway event organiser Pearse Doherty.

Morale has never been lower in the industry, with even loyal customers getting fed up having to book and reschedule constantly when the goalposts shift so many times for shows.

“I really think it’s going to be very difficult for any venue going back or festival being staged. I don’t think things are ever going to go back to normal. Any event over 5,000 people will likely have to have fewer tents, a bigger space – all these things have to be taken into consideration for people who invest in the business,” he reflects.

“Having 50 per cent capacity and closing time at 8pm does nothing to make things financially viable. A lot of business models are built on having a bar and selling to 100 per cent capacity so I’m just not sure how many will survive the pandemic, even with all the very welcome Government supports for the industry.”

He knows of many in the industry who are changing careers or moving abroad in search of work in a location where restrictions nowhere as strict.

The head of production for the doomed Galway Capital of Culture 2020, head of production for Aiken Promotions which is behind the biggest gigs in the country and the site manager for the Electric Picnic, Pearse has himself pivoted in his career, taking up the role of producer with Fíbín Theatre at An Taibhdhearc.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway author dedicates children’s book to brave young nephew battling DMD

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Dedication....Fionn Brogan – new book aims to help in his fight.

A flying mouse with a skill for hurling is the subject of a book a Galway man has dedicated to his cousin’s son – six-year-old Fionn Brogan who, like Lumo the mouse, must overcome a myriad of challenges in his everyday life.

Ballinderreen man Tom Costelloe tells the Connacht Tribune he wrote the book to raise funds for his cousin Michael’s son, inspired by the strength and resilience Fionn has shown since his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just three years old.  A disease which attacks the muscles, DMD will leave Fionn unable to play football or do many of the things he loves to do as time goes on.

As a result, his family wants to raise enough funds to make the next few years the best possible for Fionn – and aim to adapt their house so he can freely use a power wheelchair among other alterations that will be required.

For Tom, who works as a speech and language therapist, the Covid lockdowns presented an opportunity to put pen to paper and create this story of Lumo, a mouse with wings.

“With a positive message of self-acceptance, the story is brought to life with wonderful colourful illustrations by Thomas Quinn from Kinvara.

“Like Lumo the flying mouse, Fionn and his family have no shortage of strength, resilience and sprit – and thanks to our printing costs being generously sponsored, every euro raised from the sales goes directly to the Fionn Brogan trust,” he says.

Tom, who lives in Galway City, says the family had a series of fundraisers over the past year and he hopes this will add to the momentum of achieving what’s necessary to support Fionn as he continues to defy all odds.

And through his work, he’s had a good research group to test-run Lumo – getting very positive feedback.

“I work with kids so they became my research team, and they were very useful in making sure the book was of interest,” he laughs.

‘Could a Flying Mouse Play Hurling?’ is available in in Clarke’s Pharmacy Kilcolgan, Burke’s Eurospar Kinvara, Circle-K Kinvara, Poppyseed Café Clarinbridge and First Chapter in Gort.  For more information on the Fionn Brogan Trust, visit fionnbrogantrust.ie where donations can also be made.

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