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Man denies attack in Eyre Square was racially motivated



A man who followed and shouted abuse at a Polish man before punching him in the head, has denied the attack was racially motivated.

Ciaran Savage (22), from 20 Wellpark Grove, apologised at Galway District Court to the Polish man, who said he had been living and working in Galway for the last 13 years without incident.

Garda James Kavanagh said Savage approached the Polish man and his male Irish friend as they left Halo nightclub in the early hours of June 19, 2016. He followed them down Mary Street and became abusive when he realised they did not want to speak to him.

Garda Kavanagh said Savage noticed one of the men was not Irish and he began to shout abuse and try to hit him as all three walked along Eglinton Street, heading towards Eyre Square.

Passers-by intervened to help the Irish man in his efforts to keep Savage away from the Polish man, but to no avail.

Savage then came up behind the Polish man in Eyre Square and punched him into the side of the head before running away.

The Polish man and his friend decided to go to Galway Garda Station to make a complaint, but as they were walking down Shop Street, Savage again approached them and kicked the Irish man in the hip.

Savage pleaded guilty in court to two assault charges.

The court heard Savage had six previous convictions. Four were for Public Order offences, one was for possession of drugs, while the sixth was for possession of a knife.

He was convicted of the latter offence in 2014 and was fined €200 at the time.

Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin said his client’s offending behaviour in the past was due to alcohol abuse. He said Savage had since addressed that issue with the help of the probation service and no longer drank.

The Polish man told the court Savage had followed him because he was not Irish and had shouted abuse at him because he was not Irish.

Judge Fahy asked the man if he thought the assault was racially motivated.

The man nodded. “I’m Polish. I’m here 13 years and this was the first time I was approached like this,” he said.

Savage apologised to the man for his behaviour on the night and claimed it was out of character.

“I work with Polish people and I’ve never had an issue with people from other countries. For me to call you names because you come from another country? That is out of character for me,” Savage said.

He told Judge Fahy he no longer went out drinking because the probation service had helped him realise drink did not suit him and he just couldn’t do that anymore.

In reply to Judge Fahy, the Polish man declined an offer of compensation and said he would prefer any compensation to go to a charity.

The judge directed Savage pay €800 into court and she would donate it to Our Lady’s Boys’ Club, which takes boys on supervised holidays.

The judge asked the Polish man if he accepted Savage’s apology or was he still concerned about his attitude.

The man said he had become very concerned when he heard just moments before that Savage had a previous conviction for carrying a knife.

“He ran at me and punched me from behind that night. It could have been a knife, so for that reason I’m very worried,” the man replied.

Judge Fahy said the Polish man’s disappointment – at being targeted after being in Ireland for so many years – was really coming across to the court.

She warned Savage he was possibly looking at a custodial sentence but it might be suspended if he paid the compensation and be of good behaviour.

She remanded him on continuing bail to July for payment of €800 and ordered him to stay away from the men.


Zoning for houses ‘could impact Galway City Ring Road plan’



Councillors have voted to rezone farming land in Rahoon to allow for houses to be developed, against the advice of planners who warned it could impact on the planned Galway City Ring Road.

The Office of Planning Regulator and Chief Executive of Galway City Council both advised elected members not to change the zoning use from agricultural to residential on the 2.842-hectare (7-acre) site. But it was passed with 14 in favour, three against and one absent.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind), who proposed the motion, said there was a need for more land to be zoned residential to facilitate the growth in population of 40,000 over the next 18 years. Cllr Noel Larkin seconded his proposal.

Brendan McGrath, the Chief Executive, said there was “no requirement to rezone additional land for residential purposes to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029”.

He said there was sufficient zoned land available to enable development.

The OPR said voting to change the zoning represented a piecemeal approach to planning and was inconsistent with national and regional policy.

“It is also considered that the proposed rezoning could prejudice the strategic future optimal use of these lands in the longer term. With regard to impact on the objective for the N6 Galway City Ring Road Scheme (GCRR), all development has to take cognisance of the objective for the N6 GCRR.

“It is also noted that the draft plan includes that the objective for the N6 GCRR has priority over all land use zoning objectives which is considered to provide sufficient protection to safeguard the scheme objective,” Mr McGrath said.

The National Transport Authority said this rezoning should not be allowed as it is likely to lead to development that was “wholly car-dependent and contrary to national and regional objectives”.

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Cash-strapped students targeted by drug dealers, policing meeting hears



Cash-strapped students in Galway are being targeted by drug lords to act as money mules, a city councillor has warned.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) made the remarks at a public meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) and said that the €667,000 worth of drugs seized by city gardaí in the first 10 months of the year “is only the tip of the iceberg”.

The meeting at the Connacht Hotel heard that some €45 million passed through the accounts of so-called money mules nationwide this year alone.

Cllr Cheevers said drug dealers were targeting young people in particular.

“They’re in the 18 to 24-year-old age bracket and college students are being targeted,” said Cllr Cheevers.

It was revealed that cocaine was by far the most common drug seized in Galway, making up over half of all the drugs detected – cocaine valued at €348,000 was seized in the 10 months to the end of October.

This was closely followed by cannabis, of which €260,000 worth was taken off the streets by gardaí, while the remainder of the total was made up by heroin, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said the drugs problem was “unquantifiable” and promised that city gardaí were “attacking money laundering in a targeted and systematic way”.

Drugs were not only an urban problem but were a huge issue in county towns as well, he said, and all gardaí, from uniformed to armed response, were focused on the issue.

“Roads policing are taking a targeted role in tackling it as well,” said Chief Supt Roche.

“A new strategy is starting tomorrow,” he said at the meeting..

“Getting involved in being a money mule is a personal choice. We can warn and caution people against it.

“We can say so much but people continue to do things that are illegal,” he added.

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‘Furore’ over rezoning plan for access to B&B on Headford Road in Galway



From the Galway City Tribune – Councillors have voted to rezone a small section of Terryland Forest Park from recreational and amenity use to residential.

A majority of elected members also approved the insertion of a specific objective into the new Galway City Development Plan 2023-29 that would allow an entrance to the site through Sandyvale Lawn.

This was to facilitate safe access to a home and B&B business off Headford Road, which had become dangerous due to the recent changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic lights junction.

Residents of Sandyvale Lawn, a 100+ housing estate off Headford Road, had objected to the proposals, and so too had Tuatha Terryland Forest Park, an alliance of volunteers and organisations.

The Office of Planning Regulator (OPR) and Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, as well as his planning department and recreational and amenity department, had all objected to the changes.

The rezoning, and insertion of a specific objective to facilitate an entrance to the estate, was contained in the same material alteration that came before councillors, but they were obliged to vote on them separately.

Several councillors argued that a new entrance to Sandyvale Lawn was necessary to facilitate safe access to a B&B on Headford Road.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) said the family who owned this business and home had been treated poorly by the City Council during the reconfiguration of the Kirwan roundabout to a signalised junction.

Referencing the large opposition to the proposal, he said the “furore over this is astounding” and argued the impact on green space and the Sandyvale Lawn estate would be minimal.

Cllr Crowe said the proposal was about creating a safe exit and entrance.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said there had been a number of near misses of cars coming in and out of the B&B, which were captured on video.

He said the current system, whereby an amber traffic light allows access to the B&B was “haphazard and dangerous”. He feared there would be a fatality if a new entrance was not approved.

“I don’t like to rezone RA [Recreational & Amenity] land but in this situation we don’t have a choice. We have to remedy a dangerous situation,” Cllr Fahy said.

Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) said RA land was “absolutely sacrosanct” and she would not vote to rezone.

She asked what the legal position was regarding a rezoning of green space, which residents claimed had been paid for through a green levy applied 40 years ago when the estate was built.

Cllr Owen Hanley (Soc Dem) said he had voted initially to include the material alteration to support the B&B owners, as the removal of the roundabout had made access more dangerous for them.

But he said he would now support the residents of Sandyvale Lawn who had opposed the change.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said the family had lived there for 50 years and now it was more dangerous accessing their home through no fault of their own.

He said it was not safe that they have to enter and exit their home on an amber flashing light.

In a submission, residents of Sandyvale Lawn said the new entrance would negatively impact their estate, by increasing traffic, noise and an addition risk to children playing. They said it could be turned into another rat run like Ballinfoile and Tirellan. They also argued against the loss of green space.

Submissions also objected to the loss of the green space which was part of Terryland Forest Park, dubbed the ‘lungs of the city’.

Mr McGrath asked councillors not to rezone the land and not to insert the specific objective for a new entrance.

Both changes, however, were approved. The RA to R rezoning passed by a 12-5 vote and the specific objective for a new entrance passed by 11-5.

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