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CITY TRIBUNE

Man jailed for ‘racially-motivated’ attack in broad daylight

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A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to four years in prison with the final nine months suspended for what a judge described as a racially-motivated attack which took place on a busy afternoon in Eyre Square.

Goodnews Onyenweson, 82 Binn Bán, Cappagh Road, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of violent disorder, in that he along with three other youths acting together used or threatened to use violence in a public place on May 4 last year.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting an Afghan national, causing him harm, on the same date and further pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault involving an assault on a café employee, who intervened to stop the first assault.

Sergeant Paul McNulty said he and Detective Sergeant John McElroy responded to a report of an assault which took place at 1.30pm outside Café Express.

They spoke to the male staff member who witnessed four youths attack two other youths on the footpath outside the café.

He said he intervened to stop the fight but was punched in the face by one of the four attacking males, later identified as the accused.

All four fled the scene towards Forster Street before Gardai arrived.

The witness said a young man had been kicked and punched in the face and head on the ground and looked disorientated before leaving the area.

Sgt. McNulty said he viewed CCTV footage, which made for “horrendous viewing” and saw one of the gang punch a youth who then fell to the ground.  Onyenweson then stood over the victim and punched him five times in the head as he lay on the ground. He then kicked the victim four times in the head and face.

A third member of the gang was captured on CCTV kicking the same victim three times in the back and punching him to the head three times.

“I specifically observed and counted the number of vicious strikes on the CCTV,” Sgt McNulty told the sentence hearing.

He said the video footage captured the male member of staff from the café running out.  He stood between the victim – who was still on the ground – and the accused.

The accused then punched him into the face for stopping the attack.

Other members of staff helped the victim to a seat as the gang fled across Kennedy Park.

Sgt McNulty said the violent attack took place on a very busy Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend and the area was packed with passersby at the time.

All four were later arrested and questioned. The other three, one of whom is a juvenile, face sentence in July for their part in the attack.

Onyenweson admitted kicking and punching the first victim as he lay on the ground. He also admitted punching the staff member who came to the victim’s aid.

The Afghan national gave a statement to Gardai that he and a friend were walking through Eyre Square when a group of males started staring at them. Words were exchanged and he said he was struck across the side of his head with a phone and was assaulted on the ground.

He sustained bruising to the side of his head, a chipped tooth and cuts to his lips and nose.

The court heard he is from Afghanistan and has lived in a city hostel for the past year.

Sgt McNulty confirmed the accused had four previous convictions for assault, trespass and public order offences. He said he was of Nigerian descent and was now a naturalised Irish citizen.

He said the accused was a prominent member of this gang and that the others were facing sentence in July.

Passing sentence, Judge Rory McCabe said there had been a racist, vicious element to this attack.

“This was a totally random, immediate attack with no possible justification for it,” the judge said.

The maximum sentence for violent disorder, he noted, was ten years before placing the headline sentence for this particular incident at six years.

He said the headline sentence for the assault causing harm charge which carried a five-year maximum sentence, stood at the high end on the scale of gravity and merited a four-and-a-half year sentence.

The lesser assault charge carried a maximum of six months and the assault on the staff member merited three months, the judge said.

“Reading the probation report handed into court today, he does not take this very seriously,” Judge McCabe said of the accused.

However, he said he had to take the mitigating circumstances into account when arriving at an appropriate sentence and in that regard, the accused had co-operated with Gardai, pleaded guilty, was young and was now saying he was sorry.

He noted that prison for a non-national was deemed to cause extra hardship, even though the accused had been living in Ireland for a long time.

He concluded by saying the proper sentence for the violent disorder charge was four years.  He imposed a concurrent three-year sentence for the more serious assault on the first victim and imposed a concurrent two-month sentence for the assault on the staff member.

The final nine months of the four-year sentence was then suspended for five years on condition he come under the supervision of the probation service on his release from prison for 12 months.

The sentences were backdated to January 10 last when he went into custody.

CITY TRIBUNE

Hero’s welcome following rescue of two women on Galway Bay

Stephen Corrigan

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Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The miraculous rescue on Galway Bay yesterday of two young women from Knocknacarra brought 15 long hours of searching to a euphoric conclusion, as cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) were brought safely to shore.

A major search and rescue operation was launched after the pair went missing from Furbo Beach on Wednesday night, when they were swept away by a sudden wind while paddle boarding.

Claddagh fisherman and former Lifeboat shore crew member Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan joined the search early on Thursday morning and were the heroes of the hour after they discovered the two women on their boards, clinging to a lobster pot about two miles south-west of Inis Oírr, where despite their ordeal, they were described as “ok, but shaken”.

In the face of torrential rain and high winds overnight, both women had drifted almost 20 miles out to sea, but amazingly neither required serious medical attention.

Sara’s mother, Helen Feeney, raised the alarm shortly after 9pm on Wednesday evening when she noticed the pair missing as she walked their dog along the shore.

Sara, a daughter of Helen and Bernard Tonge, and Ellen, daughter Deirdre and well-known former captain of Galway United Johnny Glynn, were both said to be in good spirits at the hospital yesterday afternoon.

One relative told the Galway City Tribune that the family was “utterly humbled by the generosity of people” who had took part in the search and said, “unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe it”.

“Thank you from all the family to everyone who helped, words will never express our gratitude.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Photo: Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway farm operators fall fowl of locals

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Neighbours of Mad Yolk Farm have asked Galway City Council to determine whether planning permission is required for a portable chicken coop earmarked for the land in Roscam.

This week, Mad Yolk Farm has indicated that it will be adding chickens to the site, which has already been the subject of planning enforcement by the local authority.

In a Facebook post, the operators said they are planning to rear organic chickens on site, with neighbours fearing as many as 450 birds in the chicken ‘caravan’.

“Our chicken caravan is now built and our beaked ladies will arrive in eight days. We’ll be moving the hens onto fresh grass each day and they’ll be free to forage for insects and take mud baths. They’ll be free to behave like a chicken should,” the business said on social media.

It has prompted a neighbour of the property to write the Council to formally ask for a declaration “whether the work/development described in the form is or is not development or is or is not exempted development under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cold water poured on Spanish Arch ‘bushing’ sprinkler plan

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has poured cold water on a suggestion that it should install water sprinklers to deter ‘bushing’ at city centre hotspots for outdoor drinking, such as Spanish Arch.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) this week said the local authority should examine providing sprinklers, to deter bushing, after Spanish Arch and Middle Arch were packed with hundreds of revellers during the sunshine last weekend, and the areas were littered with alcohol bottles and cans.

Cllr Hoare said large crowds were prohibited from gathering outside due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, and if the partying continued “Galway will be the next county to be locked down”.

He said CCTV cameras should be installed at Spanish Arch and Middle Arch and added: “Galway City Council should consider installing sprinklers as a long-term solution.”

However, the City Council said it was not its intention to install sprinklers.

“It’s so hot at the moment, if you put out a sprinkler anywhere in Galway, people would just dance under it. We’re so unused to this muggy heat, that if you did that (installed sprinklers), on top of your 12-pack of Bacardi Breezers, or whatever it is young people drink these days, you’d have the biggest wet t-shirt competition this side of Ibiza – people would just dance under them. No, we have no plans for sprinklers,” remarked a City Council spokesperson.

He said the Council was unaware of a separate suggestion – announced by Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard on social media – that certain city areas be exempted from the street drinking bylaws, to allow them to be monitored and controlled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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