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Man tells Judge he couldn’t attend court due to series of funerals



A judge would love to know how many funerals a man attended over the last 14 years, given that when he was supposed to be in court he claimed to be attending funerals in his native Romania.

Judge Mary Fahy calculated that during her 14 years on the bench in Galway, Robert Samu – who has 33 previous convictions – had spent 99% of that time in Romania.

Samu (48), with an address at 33 Fana Glas, Ballybane, appeared in custody before Galway District Court last week on foot of four bench warrants which had been issued separately for his arrest.

Garda Damien Gormally gave evidence he was aware Samu would be attending the court that morning to answer a theft charge and he arrested him at the Courthouse on foot of a bench warrant issued by Blanchardstown District Court when Samu failed to appear before that court in July.

Garda Gormally said he had three other Galway bench warrants to execute against Samu, which had been issued under the Fines Act for non-payment of fines.

He said Samu had now paid the fines in full.

Judge Fahy remanded Samu on bail to appear before the court in Blanchardstown this Friday.  She then struck out the charges for non- payment of three fines, on hearing they had all now been paid.

The judge then turned her attention to the theft matter before the court.

Samu had pleaded guilty in July to the theft of €70 worth of engine oil from Calbro Motor Factors on the Tuam Road on March 24 last year.

The court heard at the time that he had 33 previous convictions, including some for other thefts.  Judge Fahy decided to have him assessed for community service in lieu of a prison sentence.

He was assessed by a probation officer in court and deemed to be a suitable candidate.

The judge then directed he carry out 140 hours’ community service in lieu of a five-month prison sentence.

Judge Fahy observed that a probation report handed into court this week in relation to Samu was not favourable.

Defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor said her client’s instructions to her were that both of his uncles had passed away and he had contacted the probation service.  She said she had explained to Samu at his last court appearance that it was his job to chase the probation service (about doing the community service) and not the other way around.

“He has 33 previous convictions and most of the time, when his cases are called in this court – and I’m here for 14 years – most of the time, 99% of the time, he is in Romania.

“This court is skirting around, trying to fit in what suits him and he thinks the probation officers should be doing the same now,” Judge Fahy said.

According to the report, which the judge read alound in court, Samu was in Romania every time an appointment was made for him on four different dates in July and August.

“This man has 33 previous convictions and this court has bent over backwards to suit him and he now expects that from every other service.  I’m afraid his luck has run out,” Judge Fahy said.

“In the last 14 years, I would like to know how many funerals he has been been to in Romania because he seems to be there a lot.

“The man has been making a fool out of the court for years,” Judge Fahy added before imposing the five-month sentence.

“He should have been thankful and grateful that the court gave him so many chances and that I even considered giving him community service given his 33 previous convictions,” the judge reasoned.  Leave to appeal the sentence was granted.


Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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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Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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