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Man beat and burnt his 16-year-old bride with poker

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A 19-year-old man used violence to control his 16-year-old wife’s every move and on one occasion gave her the option of having a belt put around her neck or get burnt with a poker.

She feared for her life and opted to be burnt, holding out her arm for the barbaric punishment.

The arranged marriage in January 2013, between Dean Maughan, who was 19 at the time, and Annalise Conroy, who had then just turned 16, was marred with bullying and violence from the outset, Galway District Court heard this week.

Maughan, with more recent addresses at 77 Innishannagh Park, Newcastle, Galway, and 5 Townspark, Cavan, denied assaulting Ms. Conroy causing her harm when the couple lived in a rented house at Station Road, Oranmore on December 15, 2015. He also denied assaulting her at the same address on March 16 last year.

He told the court he was forced to marry Ms Conroy. He said he never loved her but ‘respected’ her because she had given him a son.

Imposing sentences totalling 12 months on the accused, Judge Mary Fahy said he had treated his wife like a possession, of no value other than to produce a son. His attitude, and the attitudes of others like him in our society, need to be seriously re-educated, the judge said.

A tearful Ms Conroy gave evidence she had just turned 16 a few days before when she married Maughan in January 2013.

She recalled fearing for her life during specific violent incidents which occurred throughout their brief marriage.

The pretty, petite victim said their son was just a few months old when her husband became angry and attacked her on December 15, 2014.

“He gave me a choice to either have a belt put around my neck or hold out my hand and have it burnt.

“When given the option, I put my hand out and he burnt me on the hand and then he burnt me on the leg too. He put the poker in the fire first and then burnt me,” she sobbed

She said she was in a lot of pain but he would not allow her go to the doctor or get any treatment for her injuries.

“He wouldn’t let me go to the doctor. He was very controlling. He wouldn’t let me contact my family. I had a small, black phone when I met him first but he broke it.

“He didn’t want me to have any contact with my family or his family. He wanted me to disown my family.

“My sister, who had special needs, died and when I came back from the funeral in Ballinrobe, he gave me a very bad beating.

“I was afraid to tell my family. I was afraid he would kill me and my baby would have no mother.

“Any time we had an argument, he beat me. I was not allowed a phone. I was not allowed to talk to anyone. He was controlling me,” she sobbed.

“It had gone to the stage where he was putting a belt around my neck. I was very afraid. He was always threatening he was going to kill me. He would regularly use the belt to hit me. I didn’t want to tell my family. They had enough to deal with after my sister dying,” she added.

Ms Maughan said the second assault occurred after she returned from the shop on March 16 last year.

Maughan, she said, had been in bed before she left but when she returned he became very, very angry with her because the electricity meter had run out of coins.

“He said it was my fault the electricity had gone. He got very, very angry with me and he started scraping my face and neck with his nails.

“If I fought back, I knew he would hurt me even more. He hit me on the arms and legs with the belt. I was screaming in pain,” she said.

Maughan had rang his mother looking for money shortly before this and the assault stopped when he heard her car pulling up outside.

“I knew I had to leave that day. It had to stop,” Ms Conroy said quietly.

Maughan locked his wife out of the house and refused to give her their baby son.

His mother and father pleaded with him in through the kitchen window to hand out their grandson, but he refused.

Garda Michelle Berry gave evidence she arrived at the house and tried to reason with the accused in through the window but he was “arrogant, antagonistic and unhelpful”.

She became concerned for the baby’s welfare and called the Regional Response Unit, who happened to be in the area, to come and break down the front door to gain entry to the house.

Maughan opened the door and handed over the baby to his wife when the Response Unit arrived a short time later.

Bully husband tells court
he was forced into marriage

Dean Maughan told the court he was forced into marriage by the girl’s parents. “It was an arranged marriage. I didn’t want to marry the girl. I met her by texting her on Blackberry messaging and I brought her to Galway for the Volvo Ocean Race.

“Her parents reckoned we had run away and they wanted us to marry,” he said.

Maughan denied burning her with a poker in December, 2014. “I was after paying for an expensive holiday to Orlando.

“I brought her to Turkey a couple of months after we married, then in 2014, I brought her to Orlando for Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“I told her family from day one that I never loved her, but I have respect for her because she is the mother of my child,” he said.

Maughan said they had a chimney fire in their rented house in October, 2014 and he went to the St. Vincent de Paul and successfully applied for a fill of home heating oil.

“Were you not embarrassed? You were able to go to Florida and Turkey on holidays and yet you had to go to the St. Vincent de Paul, which is there for people in need?” Judge Mary Fahy asked Maughan.

He told her he had a gambling problem and was losing “big money” on bets.

“But you had money for holidays and no money for oil,” Judge Fahy observed.

Maughan claimed the marks and scars on his wife’s body were old and he said his wife had been annoyed with him because her family had told her he was having an affair with a 50-year-old relative.

In reply to Inspector Brendan Carroll, Maughan said he couldn’t have hit his wife with a belt as he didn’t own one.

“I don’t wear a belt. As you can see, I’m very particular about my clothes,” Maughan said, caressing his blue, fitted blazer and jeans.

Judge Fahy said she had heard enough.

She said the victim was very young.

“She was only 16 when she got married. She was a child, but that is part of the Traveller culture.

“It’s unfortunate she didn’t reveal to her own family what was happening, but then her own family were going through the trauma of losing her sister and she says she didn’t want to burden them.

“But we hear, all through our society, and not just in relation to the Travelling community – it’s in all strata of society – that women are assaulted and abused and, in some instances, it’s treated by the Gardaí as just domestic violence, but in this case thankfully, the Gardaí treated it as seriously as possible and brought charges.

“This man was a bully, totally controlling his wife. She had no phone, She was bossed around the place. The only reason he stayed with her was because of the child. He said he never loved her. It’s very, very serious.

“What’s most serious, apart from the assaults, is his attitude towards her.

“He brought her to Turkey and to Orlando, treating her like she was a possession, of no value other than to produce a son.

“Anyone in our society with that attitude needs to be re-educated in a very serious manner and he needs to be re-educated too,” Judge Fahy said.

She then sentenced Maughan to six months in prison for the first assault and imposed a consecutive six-month sentence on him for the second attack.

Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

Judge Fahy imposed a condition should Maughan appeal the sentences, that he was to make no contact with the complainant or any member of her family by any means.

Ms Conroy, who was accompanied in court by her father, cried with relief and hugged Garda Michelle Berry who had helped her get her child back.

Connacht Tribune

Joint move by Galway councils to Crown Square ruled out

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A senior Department of Housing official floated the idea of Galway County Council workers moving to Galway City Council’s newly-acquired Crown Square office building if a merger of the two local authorities was to proceed.

However, he was told the proposed merger of Galway’s two councils was not being pursued “at this stage”, and that it “should not be a consideration” when deliberating on the City Council’s application to the Department for a €45.5m loan approval to buy the offices in Mervue, on the eastern side of the city.

The discussion was contained in internal communications between officials in the Department of Housing and Local Government who were discussing Galway City Council’s loan sanction application. It was released to the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

Gary McGuinn, the Department’s Assistant Principal Officer for Local Government Governance and Elected Members – in a comprehensive memo about the Council’s loan application – raised the prospect of what would happen if a merger between the two councils proceeded.

“Over the years there have been merger proposals for Galway City Council and Galway County Council. These proposals ultimately never advanced but I believe that there has been incrementally closer coordination between both executives.

“Galway is now something of a holdout given that mergers have taken place in Limerick and Waterford, while the boundary issue was settled in Cork by extending it to encompass the city suburbs and outlying districts.

“Both Galway City Council and Galway County Council have office premises in Galway city centre. On a purely speculative note, one could ponder what would happen to the new City Hall building that they want to borrow to fund if there is an eventual merger?

“Possibly it would become the HQ for a ‘Galway Metropolitan District’ structure within a single ‘City and County’ type local authority. As there is no such proposal at this time though it’s probably not something that can be asked about or planned for,” Mr McGuinn said to his colleague, Tim Nuttall, an official in the Department’s Local Government Finance section.

His views were forwarded to another section within the Department of Housing last September, just before Minister Darragh O’Brien sanctioned the loan application last September.

In response, another civil servant in the Department of Housing, Áinle Ní Bhriain, said: “I can confirm there are no plans to pursue a merger of Galway City Council and Galway County Council, which was approved by Government in 2018, at this stage, and therefore should not be a consideration in relation to this loan.”

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, confirmed two days before Christmas Eve last year, that the deal to buy the property from JJ Rhatigan was complete.

City Council workers are due to move to the new building by the end of this year.

In its loan application, the City Council said its College Road site, built 40 years ago, and refurbished and extended in the 2000s, had a number of “challenges”.

These included “limited capacity for additional headcount, lack of facilities within current infrastructure, building standard compliance and meeting our existing building climate targets for 2030”.

It pointed out to the Department that it leases two buildings in the city centre, to accommodate staff as well as City Hall, and buying Crown Square “will address the challenges outlined in the most efficient and cost-effective way and release our current City Hall, city centre site for regeneration”.

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Connacht Tribune

Hotel sector’s plea to retain lower VAT rate

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With overseas visitors down more than a quarter and increases of 300% in energy bills compared to before the pandemic, now is not the time to hike VAT rates for hospitality.

That is the plea from the chairperson of the Galway branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), John Ryan, who is urging the Government to keep the 9% VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sectors indefinitely.

The Government delayed the introduction of a 13.5% rate until March 1 at a cost of €250 million to help the sector get back on its feet after Covid.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue referred to price gouging in hotels over the summer as one of the key reasons he was upping the rate.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin last week stated that it was no secret she had sought the retention of the 9% rate in negotiations for the 2023 Budget and “will continue to seek it”.

The lobby group for small to medium business, ISME, has called for the reduced VAT rate to be brought in for the entire services sector.

The owner of the Ardilaun Hotel in Taylor’s Hill said the average price of a hotel room was €167 last year. With 4,000 rooms in Dublin booked out to accommodate refugees, the price of the remaining stock was at a premium.

“You could find a couple of examples all over the country where people were charging unfair prices and were wrong. There were a few serious spikes – maybe 1% of overall accommodation stock in Dublin did that. If I was a customer I wouldn’t pay it,” Mr Ryan said.

“But they shouldn’t penalise the entire sector because of that 1%. The 9% is the right one. We would be the same as other countries where tourism is a key industry. If we went up to 13.5%, we’d be the second highest after Denmark.

“We couldn’t absorb that. We have already contracted our foreign business for 2024/25 – we’d have to go out and tell suppliers we are putting up rates. That’s just not on.”

With almost all key tourism markets experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, the last thing the industry can cope with is a tax jump.

Of 27 EU countries, the VAT rate on accommodation is 9% or lower in 16 countries.

Tourism supports 22,000 jobs throughout Galway, generating €910 million in tourism revenues annually for the local economy.

Last year the average room occupancy levels were 69% for the West, just 1% lower than national rates. Over the same period in 2019, however, room occupancy was at 78% nationally.

This is largely due to a shortfall in overseas visitors to Ireland, with numbers still down more than 25% last year compared to 2019.

A recent survey found that hotels and guesthouses were reporting reduced levels of forward bookings compared to the same time in 2019.

Some 57% report reduced bookings from Great Britain, 48% say bookings are down from Northern Ireland, while 37% record fewer bookings from the rest of Europe. US bookings are down 41%.

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Connacht Tribune

Irish Water representatives asked to explain frequent East Galway problems

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Irish Water will be urged to attend a full plenary meeting of Galway County Council to explain frequent problems with the public water supply in East Galway.

A motion calling on them to answer questions before councillors proposed by Cllr Shane Curley (FF) received unanimous support from across the chamber.

The motion comes amid prolonged unplanned outages across the county, with Loughrea Municipal District councillors repeatedly raising the difficulties affecting their area.

“What has been happening in recent months is verging on the ridiculous. Outages have been prolonged to the degree that they’re having a seriously negative impact on people’s lives,” he said.

“Other utility companies like Electric Skyline have come to council meetings in the past and presented to councillors about the work that they are doing. This is urgently needed for clarity to be given from Irish Water at this point.

‘We have had horrendous issues in towns like Loughrea and Gort, where people have been on prolonged bottled water notices. Manholes around Loughrea town have fallen into serious disrepair, causing trip hazards.

“Irish Water is funded by the taxpayer and the public deserve crystal clear information as to what has been happening across the county.”

A boil notice was in place in the Gort area for a month, including over the Christmas and New Year period.

The notice was originally issued due to issues at the Gort Water Treatment Plant, affecting the treatment and supply for 2,776 customers supplied by the Gort Public Water Supply Scheme.

Irish Water’s Eoin Hughes said several issues came together which resulted in the advice not to drink or use the water without boiling.

“Before the cold weather took hold there were numerous leaks on the network and these drained reservoirs to low levels across the scheme. Low reservoir levels were further compounded by unprecedented temperatures of -8°C which caused severe operational difficulties at the treatment plant, leading to the plant being shut down for unsustainable periods of time, further impacting supply continuity.”

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