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Man harassed Garda over 17-year grudge

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Sentencing in the case of a man who threatened to harm a psychiatric nurse and harassed a retired Garda whom he’d held a grudge against for seventeen years, has been adjourned for six months to see if he engages with services to deal with his mental health issues.

Mark Condon (47), with a former address at Rahylin Glebe, Ballybane, who now resides with his parents in Clonmel, appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week for sentence.

Prosecuting barrister Conor Fahy explained there were three separate sets of offences which Condon had pleaded guilty to relating to three separate incidents.

Detective Sergeant Paudie O’Shea said the first incident involved Condon stealing a set of car keys from a clamper on March 14, 2013 at a car park in Clybaun. He became abusive towards the clamper when his jeep was clamped and took his car keys off him before going to a nearby pub. He threatedned the garda called to deal with the incident.

The next incident, Sgt O’Shea said, occurred at Fairhill on June 14 last year. Condon had been at a restaurant owned by his ex-wife in Dominick Street and had been ejected from that premises. He was very abusive and threatening and was later charged with being drunk and breaching the peace.

Sgt O’Shea said the third incident involved the harassment of a retired Garda and threats to kill a psychiatric nurse. He said Condon persistently texted and phoned the retired Garda over a one-week period last June. The garda had prosecuted Condon 17 years beforehand and it appeared Condon bore a grudge against him.

Condon left twelve messages on the man’s phone on June 22 alone and eight messages two days later. In one communication, Condon had told the retired Garda: “It’s been 17 years, four houses and two daughters and now I’m plotting my return.”

Sgt O’Shea said the retired Garda moved house during the period of the harassment and he became greatly alarmed when he discovered Condon had been monitoring his movements.

The next incident, Sgt O’Shea said, occurred when Condon was a voluntary inpatient in the Psychiatric Unit at UHG. He went missing one evening and a psychiatric nurse – who was concerned for his welfare – phoned Condon’s parents early the next morning to see if he was okay.

Condon rang her back a few minutes later and was extremely abusive and threatening towards her. He used foul language and said: “I will get you and break your neck.”

Mr Fahy said Condon and gone on trial for threatening to kill or cause serious harm to the nurse but he pleaded guilty during the trial to threatening to cause her serious harm.

He said Condon had pleaded guilty to several counts of criminal damage involving his in-laws at Galway Circuit Criminal Court in February 1999, and had pleaded guilty also to setting fire to their home. He had also made threats to kill one of his former in-laws and at the time, had also threatened to kill the now retired Garda, who had investigated the above offences.

The court at the time had imposed suspended sentences.

Judge Rory McCabe indicated the theft of the car keys merited a two-year sentence, the harassment of the retired Garda, three years and the threat to kill the nurse, four years.

He said the extent to which Condon served part or any of those sentences depended on his co-operation with the mental health and probation services over the next six months.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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