A mother of seven who was captured on CCTV teaching two of her children how to shoplift, has been referred by a judge to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for assessment before facing a possible prison sentence in December.
Bridget Mongan (44), 5 Cois na Coille, Ballybane, pleaded guilty before Galway District Court to a series of shoplifting charges at Penney’s, Kilkenny shop and Renmore Pharmacy.
Sgt Paul Duane said Gardai were called to Penney’s at Headford Road Shopping Centre shortly after 12 noon on October 1 last year after Mongan was captured on CCTV removing a tag from a jacket before placing it into a bag.
Mongan, he said, had two of her children, aged 11 and 12 with her and she could be seen on CCTV directing the children to place other items into the bag. Clothing to the value of €67.50 was taken before Mongan and the children left the store.
Judge Mary Fahy said the fact that Mongan had two of her young children with her while committing this offence made the situation very serious for both the accused and her children.
Sgt Duane said Garda John O’Brien got a call to go to the Kilkenny shop at High Street, Galway at 6.10pm.
Mongan, he said, had gone into the shop carrying a large red laundry bag. She went upstairs and placed a Waterford crystal vase, valued at €595 in the bag.
The property was recovered the next day by Gardai.
“A vase like that was hardly a necessity. She wasn’t stealing food or clothing for her children. A Waterford crystal vase is a luxury item, not a necessity, so I have to take that into account,” Judge Fahy observed.
Sgt Duane said Gardai were called to Renmore Pharmacy on February 25 last after staff noticed items were being stolen from the shop every time Mongan came in to collect her prescription medications.
CCTV captured Mongan taking numerous items worth €284 from around the store on dates between January 23 and February 22 last, while waiting for her prescription.
Mongan also pleaded guilty to stealing €200 worth of jewellery from Claire’s Accessories in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre on October 10 last.
She was arrested on November 17 last and all of the items were recovered.
“All of the offences before the court occurred over a four-month period while my client was on ‘a cocktail’ of prescription medications and was not in her right mind. She was on these medications to treat an underlying addiction and at the time her family threw her out at home,” defence solicitor, Michael Cunningham explained.
He said she had since returned home.
Sgt Duane informed the court Mongan had nine previous convictions, including some for thefts and the remainder for motoring offences.
In reply to Judge Fahy, Mongan said she had seven children with four of them still under 18.
Judge Fahy warned Mongan she was looking at a custodial sentence because she had two of her children with her while she was shoplifting.
The judge then said she would refer the matter first to the Child and Family Agency and get a report from it before proceeding to sentence.
“It’s outrageous that anybody would bring in young children to a shop like that.
“She is preparing them for the same type of lifestyle, so I want the matter referred to the Child and Family Agency,” Judge Fahy said.
She also directed the preparation of a pre-sanction probation report on Mongan and warned that if she was deemed to be an unsuitable candidate for community service she would serve a custodial sentence.
Mr Cunningham said his client had addiction issues and was waiting for a bed in an addiction treatment centre.
Judge Fahy said if she was to deal with everybody who appeared before the court on the basis that they were waiting for a bed, there wouldn’t be anybody to deal with.
“In my view she only started looking for a (treatment) bed when she knew the game was up and she decided to try this now,” Judge Fahy said.
The judge said Mongan was “really tearing it” by walking into a shop to deliberately take luxury goods.
“If you cannot afford to pay for luxury goods then you shouldn’t be stealing them,” she said to Mongan.
She remanded Mongan on continuing bail to December for a pre-sanction probation report for a possible community service order and for a report from the Child and Family Agency.
Judge Fahy didn’t hold out much hope for Mongan escaping a custodial sentence.
“It doesn’t sound like she will be a suitable candidate for community service if he doesn’t deal with her addictions,” Judge Fahy said.
She granted Mongan bail on condition she stay away from all of the premises mentioned in the charges and be of good behaviour and not reoffend in the intervening period.
Organiser picked the perfect time for Inis Meáin blackberry festival
A brand new blackberry festival, ‘Féile na bPuiteachaí’ will take place on Inis Meáin today Saturday 1 October, celebrating the island’s blackberries with a wide variety of events.
The festival is named after an Irish word, ‘puiteachaí’, which is unique to Inis Meáin and is used locally instead of the more commonly-known ‘sméara dubha’.
Events taking place at Halla Naomh Eoin on the day include blackberry ink and jam-making, poetry and baking competitions, a gin workshop and an evening concert.
Festival Director Aedín Ní Thiarnaigh said: “We are absolutely delighted to launch this festival and to celebrate some of the many assets we have here on the island; from the blackberries themselves to the skills of the Inis Meáin community.
“It’s all about appreciating the landscape around us, as well as our local culture and community,” she said.
Entries are welcome for the first ever ‘Féile na bPuiteachaí’ Baking Competition (3pm) which invites bakers to prepare a dish of their choice with blackberries as a key ingredient. Entries will be judged on the day by head baker at the Michelin Green Star Award-Winning Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites, Maedhbh Ní Dhomhnaill, with prizes of €100 for first place, €50 for second and €30 for third.
“There’s great excitement among the local community already about the competitions, which is brilliant. Of course, we also welcome entries from other areas and hope to get support from our neighbours on the Aran Islands and in Conamara,” said Gráinne Ní Chonaighle, Vice Director of the festival and project co-ordinator with Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin.
From food to drink, high demand is expected for Pádraig Ó Fátharta’s drinks workshop (4.30pm), where he will reveal his top tips for gin-making with Inis Meáin’s wild autumn fruits and where participants will make their own wild gin infusions to take home.
Television presenter and folklorist Aedín Ní Thiarnaigh will lead a guided blackberry-picking tour on the day (noon), where participants will gather their own berries and hear folklore associated with the island’s unique landscape.
Participants can then put their berries to good use at the first of the day’s family events, making fresh blackberry ink with local women Juda Uí Loinsigh and Orlaith Bhreathnach and creating their very own ‘puiteachaí’ painting.
No blackberry festival would be complete without some good old-fashioned jam-making (1pm) and festival goers will also have the option to turn their own collected berries into jam on the day in the Halla Naomh Eoin kitchen.
Award-winning harpist Úna Ní Fhlannagáin will take to the Halla Naomh Eoin stage for the festival finale for a night of music and song from 8pm.
More information and event registration will be available at inismeainbeo.ie and at Siopa Ruaidhrí Beag in the week before the festival.
Lackagh students’ mini-boat sets sail in the South Atlantic
Spiorad na Gaillimhe, an uncrewed mini-boat built and decorated by students from Scoil Bhríde in Lackagh has set sail in the South Atlantic.
It is one of four miniboats – the others from schools in Spain, Germany and South Africa – that were deployed from the Alfred-Wegener Institute’s Icebreaker, RV Polarstern, as it sails between Germany and South Africa.
These four new vessels will join the 18 Educational Passages boats that are currently sailing around the world’s oceans. Spiorad na Gaillimhe (Spirit of Galway) is the first mini-boat to set sail in the South Atlantic.
School Principal Shane O’Connor and teacher Tomás Higgins were fundamental in ensuring the project was delivered.
Mr Higgins said: “The project was an engaging and great project for the pupils that’s cross curricular in nature incorporating many skills and subjects such as science, maths, art and geography and gave us the opportunity to bring the theme of the ocean and ocean literacy into the classroom in a fun and interesting way.
“We were delighted in Scoil Bhríde to have this unique and great opportunity, thanks to the support of Sheena Fennell, University of Galway, POGO [Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean] and Educational Passages, to participate in the Miniboat Programme.
“And I’m delighted that my colleague Aisling White will continue on working with our pupils during this academic year and she looks forward to following the journey of Spiorad na Gaillimhe and continuing the project with the pupils.”
The project was funded by the Nippon Foundation and POGO and has provided the students in Galway with an opportunity to learn more about oceanography and ocean technology.
Professor Peter Croot and Senior Oceanography Technician Sheena Fennell from Earth and Ocean Sciences at University of Galway worked with the school throughout the process, delivering ocean experiments and guidance with the build.
Professor Croot said: “The students in Scoil Bhríde were responsible for constructing the boat, deciding on a name, decorating the sail and hull and, most importantly, had to decide what treasures to place in the hold for any lucky finder if it comes ashore.
“Once Spiorad na Gaillimhe sets sail it will regularly send its GPS location and values of sea and air temperature. The students will be working to predict where it will sail in the ocean by looking at weather and ocean current maps, thereby learning about our oceans.”
You can keep up to date by searching ‘Spiorad na Gaillimhe’ on educationalpassages.org
Motorists urged to think twice about their parking
MOTORISTS around Galway have been reminded this week that careless parking on footpaths – or illegally taking up spaces allocated for disabled drivers – can cause untold hardship for people with disabilities.
‘Make Way Day’ is taking place this Friday when motorists will be asked to think twice before leaving their cars in ‘obstructive positions’ – cyclists who tie their bikes onto poles and railings are also being targeted.
And while Friday’s campaign is essentially about awareness and respect, motorists have also been reminded of the severe fines that can be imposed for careless parking on paths or in disability spaces.
One of the campaign organiseers, Peter Gohery from Eyrecourt, said that parking in a disability parking space without the designated blue card carries a €150 fine while the penalty can rise to €3,000 if such a card is being illegally used by someone else.
“There are penalties in place for this kind of parking but first and foremost we want this to be an awareness and respect campaign.
“If, for example, someone with a disability is forced onto the public road because a car is parked on a path, this involves not only an inconvenience for the disabled person, but also a real danger,” said Mr Gohery.
An amputee himself following a farming accident a number of years back, Mr Gohery said that awareness and common-sense by drivers could make a huge difference to people who suffered from disabilities.
“For example, a visually impaired person using a guide dog, can be forced off the path if a car is illegally parked there – we’re just pleading with people to think twice before they park illegally,” he said.
Dr Charlotte May, Galway Public Participation Network (PPN) Co-ordinator, said that Make Way Day was part of a national campaign ran by the Disability Federation of Ireland aimed at bringing people with disabilities and the wider community together.
“The day is meant to be a friendly reminder that cars parked on footpaths; bicycles illegally parked; and bins left on footpaths, all block the way and create barriers for people.
“Make Way Day is not about pointing the finger at local authorities, other agencies, or randomly scattered activism.
“The whole point of the day is making the public aware of an issue that is fully within their power to change. It’s about one impactful, co-ordinated and decisive day of action,” she said.
Make Way Day will be marked this Friday in Loughrea (Bridge Street carpark) at 10am and in Portumna (The Square next to St. Brigid’s) at 12.30pm where obstacles on the paths and streetscapes will be identified and highlighted.
A similar type of event is also planned for Clifden between 11am and 1pm starting off from the Town Hall.
“The campaign brings the disability and wider community together to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces we all share.
“Everyone can get involved. And everyone should get involved because we’ve discovered thoughtlessness is the big issue,” said Dr May.