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Mother caught teaching kids how to shoplift faces jail term

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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.

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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