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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

Jon Kenny visits Áras Éanna with hit show Crowman

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Actor and comedian Jon Kenny will visit Áras Éanna on Inis Oírr this Saturday, August 24, performing in Katie Holly’s hit one-man show Crowman.

The play premiered at the 2018 Cork Midsummer Festival, receiving standing ovations from audiences and praise from critics.

Crowman is the story of Dan Lonergan and the characters he meets throughout his life.

It’s about lost love and the sense of belonging and not belonging in a small community. Most of all, it’s about the humanity and decency of people in every village and town in Ireland.

As Dan himself surmises: ‘Some people never had the dance that I had and some people never hear the music.’

Jon Kenny carries the audience on a roller-coaster ride from Dan’s childhood to middle-age, from the hurling pitch to the pub and from one uproariously funny character to the other.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

2020 still far short of private funding target

Dara Bradley

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Galway 2020, the company set-up to deliver the European Capital of Culture next year, remains well behind on its target of raising €6.75 million in private funding.

Making Waves, the bid book that won Galway the designation, committed Galway 2020 to raising income totalling €6.75 million from private sponsors and philanthropists.

The bid book specified that this was income to be spent on operating expenditure for the year-long programme of events.

With less than a month to go before the official programme is unveiled, Galway 2020 declined this week to confirm how much money it has raised through sponsorship.

Galway 2020 has consistently said that it intends to raise €6.75m in sponsorship; and this figure has been quoted in several briefing documents prepared for Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, which were released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

A briefing note for Minister Madigan dated April 10, 2019, under the heading, ‘philanthropy’, mentioned that some €133,477 had been received in total by Galway 2020 in sponsorship and in-kind support as of December 31, 2018.

In March 2019, a financial report by Galway 2020, confirmed that the company had raised less than €30,000 in private sponsorship income last year. This suggests that some €100,000 of the total raised last year, was in-kind.

When asked to clarify how much cash it has raised from sponsorship, minus in-kind support, Galway 2020 said its “fundraising target hasn’t changed”.

“The current value of the fundraising and partnerships pipeline is €4.5m – this includes a combination of commercial as well as trusts and foundations, comprising funds already committed, proposals submitted and further partnerships that are under consideration. These proposals and agreements are a combination of cash and in-kind support,” it said.

Galway 2020 declined to elaborate on how much of this €4.5 million “pipeline” was income and how much was in-kind support. It also did not say how much of that “pipeline” is already ‘banked’, and how much was not yet collected.

Included in that €4.5 million figure was a “significant corporate partnership with Medtronic”, which has become the health partner of Galway 2020 and sponsor of its Wave Maker volunteer programme, it said. However, Galway 2020 did not elaborate on the cash value – as opposed to any in-kind value – of that agreement, which was announced a fortnight ago.

“The nature of the breakdown of partnership agreements are commercially sensitive to each of our partners,” a spokesperson said.

The sole mention of the term “in-kind” in the bid book is on page 89, where it states: “The Promotion & Marketing budget described above will be supplemented by in-kind marketing benefit from our supporters, strategic partners & producers.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

120 households facing eviction

Dara Bradley

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Low-income city households are staring down the barrel of homelessness after a flood of eviction notices were issued this Summer.

Galway City Council has confirmed that landlords have issued a total of 120 Notices to Quit to families and single people in June and July. Twelve were on RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme) or Long-Term Leasing, and the remaining 108 were on HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) or other social schemes in the private rental sector.

All 120 are on the Council housing wait list, but anecdotally, scores more private tenants have been issued with notices to vacate their apartments and houses – adding more fuel to the ongoing crisis.

The 120-plus evicted tenants are now in the market to find alternative rental accommodation, and are competing with the thousands of third level students who are back in the city this month searching for digs.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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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