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CITY TRIBUNE

Judge: Organised begging ‘racket’ in Galway City

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Organised begging has become “a racket” in Galway City, according to Judge Mary Fahy, who convicted two people of the offence at Galway District Court and issued bench warrants for the arrest of others.

Elena Feraru (25), a Romanian national of no fixed abode was the first to be prosecuted.

She pleaded guilty with the aid of an interpreter, to begging in the city on May 18 last year and again on April 1 this year.

Defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor, said her client told her she had come to Ireland four years ago hoping to get work, leaving her children with her mother in Romania.

She said it raised a question the court had often asked before that if a person could not secure employment why did they not go home.

Ms Traynor said Feraru was using COPE Galway day services for homeless people to shower and so on, and was sleeping rough at night.

She said her client was in a dire situation and probably one that the court sees too often. “Everything she owns is in her rucksack,” Mr Traynor observed.

“We all know there is a system in place. We don’t know if this lady is involved but there is a system in every city where they are being used by other individuals.

“It’s something that should be looked out for, with people being dropped off by people from Dublin and other places, for professional begging,” Judge Fahy said.

She fined Feraru €100 for the first begging offence and imposed a one-month sentence, suspended for twelve months for the second on condition she be of good behaviour.

“I want to give her an incentive that if she is being exploited or potentially going to be exploited, that she does not partake (in professional begging),” Judge Fahy said.

The second accused was Laurentiu Neculau, another Romanian national, who pleaded guilty to begging at Wolfe Tone Bridge on July 13 last.

Ms Traynor said he too had everything he owned in his rucksack, was in Ireland eight months, was homeless and was availing of COPE day services.

Judge Fahy said she again had to ask was he involved in organised begging.

“Anecdotally, we have heard of vulnerable people being dropped off from cars early in the morning and others are using these people who have no previous convictions for obvious reasons,” Judge Fahy said.

Sgt Rodgers said it was an extremely difficult offence to detect.

“In other words, they are professional beggars,” Judge Fahy replied.

“The suspicion is in the city they are professional beggars.  That is what they are doing Instead of trying to get work or get social welfare.  They are under the radar and they are colluding with these people by agreeing to work for them.  Some are more vulnerable than others,” Judge Fahy observed.

She imposed a one-month sentence on Neculau as well, suspended for twelve months to be of good behaviour.

“It seems that when some of them are sentenced, someone else takes their place.  That’s the implication but we have no proof of it,” Judge Fahy added.

Two more Romanian nationals failed to appear on similar charges.

“It’s so obvious. There are so many of these. These are professional beggars. These are not just random people, that are down on their luck. It’s a racket,” Judge Fahy said before issuing bench warrants for the arrest of both men.

CITY TRIBUNE

Former hotel won’t be ring-fenced for college

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No designation....Corrib Great Southern during demolition.

The site of the former Corrib Great Southern will no longer be ring-fenced for educational purposes if a clause removed in a draft of the next development plan is eventually adopted.

A motion by Mayor Colette Connolly proposed earmarking one-third of the six-acre Dublin Road site for educational use as well as research or collaborative ventures between third level colleges and industry.

Mayor Connolly said her proposal reinstates the text of the current plan reserving a portion of any planned development for education.

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) was supportive of the motion, the Independent councillor she told a planning meeting convened to collate a draft of the plan.

Councillor Declan McDonell (Ind) said GMIT had recently purchased the home of the Galwegians Rugby Club at Glenina for €9 million and were progressing developments at the Cluain Mhuire site and a proposed Centre of Excellence for Health, Sport, and Marine Science at Murrough.

The former hotel had been offered to GMIT for €3.75m by NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) but they had to pass because they could not come up with the money.

“So I fail to see how they could come up with the money to buy two acres for educational purposes – therefore we could be left with a derelict site for years,” he warned.

Cllr Noel Larkin (Ind) told the meeting he was in favour of an expanding GMIT but agreed the site which only recently saw the demolition of a major eyesore could be left derelict for another decade if developers were hamstrung by what could be built.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Conamara siblings take to stage for TradFest

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Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, who will perform in Collins Barracks next Thursday.

The musical talent of Conamara siblings Caoimhe and Séamus Uí Fhlatharta from An Áird Mhóir, will be on show at this year’s Temple Bar TradFest, which runs from January 26-230 in venues across Dublin. They will be performing at Collins Barracks at 1pm next Thursday, January 26.

Séamus and Caoimhe, who have won multiple All-Ireland titles for their music, are well-known among fans of traditional music as brilliant multi-instrumentalists, singers and dancers, whose vocal arrangements and harmonies bring new life to well-known and less familiar songs. Their performance on last week’s Late Late Show as part of a musical tribute to murdered Offaly woman, Ashling Murphy, was widely praised.

TradFest is one of the first largescale events to host live audiences again, something that performers and fans alike hope will continue.

Other participants include actor Stephen Rea, hosting a night of poetry and music with Natalya O’Flaherty, Sasha Terfous, Louise and Michelle Mulcahy and Neill Martin; Fairport Convention; Peggy Seeger, Aoife Scott and Wallis Bird; Maria Doyle Kennedy; Boxing Banjo; Dervish, Altan and 4 Men and a Dog; Séamus Begley, Oisín Mac Diarmada and Samantha Harvey; Martin and Eliza Carthy; The Lost Brothers; Maria Doyle Kennedy; Joe and Steve Wall; Cór Cúil Aodha and Seán Ó Sé; Karan Casey; Niamh Ní Charra; Brídín; Laoise Kelly; Brenda Castles, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh; Tim Edey, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and Ultan O’Brien.

Tickets and more information at tradfesttemplebar.com.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG Mystics sticking to their routine ahead of Cup decider

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Alison Blaney of NUIG Mystics in action against Sophie Moore of Limerick Sport Huskies during the Women’s Division 1 National Cup semi-final. The Galway club face Templeogue in Sunday's final.

NUIG Mystics head coach Paul O’Brien says his squad are treating this week like any other as they prepare to head to the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Sunday to take on Templeogue in the Women’s Division One Cup final (1.30pm).

Mystics go into the game as favourites, having lowered the Templeogue flag on the Dublin side’s home court in the league with a 76-60 win back at the end of November, though O’Brien insists that game will have little bearing on Sunday’s contest.

“That was a couple of months ago, they are a much better side now, defensively they are far stronger now then they were for that game, so we are going to have to shoot the ball well, certainly better than we did in the semi-final,” he says.

That semi-final saw Mystics overcome Limerick Sport Huskies 70-54, and they go into Sunday’s final in great form, having trimmed Tipperary Knights 92-65 at the NUIG Sports Complex on Saturday, their eighth win on the bounce since their one and only defeat of the season, a 77-74 loss to Ulster University Elks back in November.

“That was a very good game at the weekend and the final scoreline doesn’t do justice to Tipperary. They were right in it until about half way through the third quarter, they were leading in fact, but we just pulled it out with a big final quarter,” he said.

Templeogue are also on a decent run of form, having won four games on the spin, their last defeat being that reversal to Mystics, and O’Brien says that the Dublin side will be boosted by having something of a home court advantage, given the fact the NBA is just a 20-minute drive from their home court.

However, Mystics have plenty of players used to playing high-pressure games, and the national arena won’t hold any surprises for a side packed with players who have worn the green of Ireland at the venue, and have contested schools’ and club finals there.

“We have a great team spirit, there is no ego in the squad, players don’t mind who gets the scores as long as the team wins, and that has been crucial to our season so far. We are treating this week the same as any other, we’ll train Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and we’ll get the bus up on Sunday morning and hopefully we will play to our ability,” he said.

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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