No prosecutions yet over petrol-stretching in Galway
Just 21 cases of ‘petrol-stretching’ have been reported to Gardaí in Galway in the past six months, according to figures from the Minister for Justice.
But the Gardaí have yet to submit a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions as a result of any of the complaints they have received.
And during the same period, a total of 17 complaints were made to Revenue in Galway about the scam.
The scam – which involves unscrupulous retailers adding around 10% kerosene to unleaded petrol to hike profits – has seen several hundred cars destroyed in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in recent months
Revenue has sent a total of 208 samples from across the country to the State Laboratory – just two samples (from one unnamed filling station) were found to have evidence of a stretching agent, and a file is being prepared for prosecution.
The figures have led to a renewed appeal by authorities for motorists to ensure they report suspected cases to both the Gardaí and Revenue.
The Galway statistics pale into insignificance when compared to the 222 complaints made to Gardaí in Mayo during the same six-month period. There were 65 reports in the Roscommon/Longford Garda Division and none in Sligo.
During the same period, there were 40 reports to Revenue in Mayo; 15 in Roscommon and none in Leitrim.
Independent Deputy Denis Naughten has called for the Revenue to make their information available to members of the public who wish to take a civil action against.
“While the Revenue Commissioners are progressing investigations, indications are that in the vast majority of cases there is no breach of excise legislation. In such instances, Revenue must make this evidence available to assist motorists in taking a possible civil action to recoup the significant cost of the damage to their cars.
“I would also plead with motorists to report their suspicions about petrol-stretching – where rogue fuel merchants add a 10% mix of kerosene home heating oil to petrol to increase profits – to both the Gardaí and Revenue. This information is vital to get a clear picture of what exactly happened to destroy these engines in the first place” said Deputy Naughten.
According to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, all Garda investigations are ongoing, and no files have yet been prepared for the DPP.
“In addition to analysing samples referred to it, the State Laboratory is providing technical and scientific support for the ongoing investigations as the analysis of potentially stretched petrol is a complex one which, to date, has involved a significant level of time-consuming, non-routine testing bearing in mind the sufficient level of evidence required in order to pursue prosecutions in this area.
“I am also advised that the volume of samples sent for analysis has necessitated a reallocation of resources within the State Laboratory,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan – referring to Revenue’s interest in the scam – said results over the past fortnight have found petrol contaminated with diesel.
“Normally when fraudsters attempt to stretch petrol, they add methanol, kerosene or other low excise duty agents. To date, 208 samples have been referred by Revenue to the State Laboratory for analysis. Despite extensive testing by the State Laboratory, no evidence of any prohibited stretching agent has been found in any of the samples, except two samples taken from one site.
“The conclusive results received in that particular case has resulted in the seizure of the product and closure of the facility and a file is being prepared for prosecution,” said Minister Noonan.
Nurses call in Chief Fire Officer on ED overcrowding
The nurses’ union has formally urged the Chief Fire Officer to investigate 17 alleged breaches of the fire regulations as a result of chronic overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway.
It’s the second time the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has done so since Christmas, fearing the lives of staff and patients are being put in grave danger.
The emergency department was busier than normal last week, with between 222 and 251 patients turning up to be seen per day. On Wednesday of last week there were 53 patients waiting on trolleys, according to figures released by the Saolta Hospital group. That went down to 47 on Thursday and Friday.
This week has seen little let up. On Monday and Tuesday the number of people who could only get a trolley was down to 36 and 38 respectively.
Local area representative of the INMO, Anne Burke, said as a result of very high attendances at the temporary emergency department, management had opened a transit area where between 12 and 14 people could be accommodated in cubicles.
Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Comer has eyes on the prize
If you Google Damien Comer, the first entry the search returns is a dedicated Wikipedia page, which declares: “He’s better than David Clifford”.
And while Wikipedia as a source of fact isn’t necessarily always reliable, who are we to argue with it?
But whatever about comparisons with Kerry greats, the Annaghdown clubman is certainly up there among Galway’s finest ever footballers.
Winning a first All-Star last season, from his third nomination, was proof of that. It was a special personal accolade, but he’d trade it in a shot for a Celtic Cross.
“It was nice to get but if I finish my career not having won an All-Ireland, I’ll be very disappointed,” he declared.
Comer hints that the 2022 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry last July was not one of his better games in maroon, and it’s one he thinks about regularly.
“Yeah, I would yeah, I’d think about it a bit. But I try to forget it as well, because it wasn’t a good day for me, personally, anyway.
“You try to forget about it and yet you have to try to learn from it and improve on the mistakes you made, and stuff you didn’t do that you should’ve done, and different things that you can bring to this season.
“It’s one that’s hard to forget about really because we were there for so long. Sixty minutes in, neck-and-neck, and then they just pulled away, so it was disappointing,” he said.
Damien Comer has teamed up with Specsavers to encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their eye and hearing health. There’s a full interview with him ahead of Sunday’s National Football League Final, is in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Galway publican reflects on traumatic journey that ended with his abuser in jail
Galway businessman Paul Grealish remembers the moment back in 2000 when he was given a sheet of paper and asked to write about his life. He was on weekend-long self-development course that he’d been sent on by his brother John. At the time, John was managing director of their family business for which Paul and their sister, Joan, also worked.
“The course was probably done in an attempt to make it easier to manage me,” says Paul with a laugh, adding that he “was tough to manage” back then.
He was enjoying the course – until he received that blank sheet.
“I got about four or five sentences in, writing about my early life. Until I got to the primary school part . . . I was in tears,” he remembers. “I was so used to compartmentalising things, I didn’t see the danger.”
In the early 1970s, aged nine and ten years, Paul had been beaten and sexually abused by his teacher, Brother Thomas Caulfield, at Tuam CBS primary school.
He had repressed those memories for nearly three decades.
“You bury the memory, and you bury it as deep as you can. There’s an awareness of something terrible there but it’s too frightening for you to actively remember.”
Paul was so terrified of those memories that he’d lost all recollection of his childhood. He couldn’t tell his story.
He was meant to show it to one of the course leaders – a counsellor, he thinks. Instead, Paul put the nearly-blank sheet before the man and explained what had happened.
Realising Paul’s plight, that man gave him a list of phone numbers for counsellors in Galway.
“Every now and again, I’d look at it and think about ringing them but I didn’t,” Paul says.
However, the abuse that had robbed Paul of his childhood and blighted his adulthood with feelings of guilt and self-hatred refused to stay buried. Finally, he knew he had to deal with it. That journey began in the early 2000s and Paul finally got closure earlier this month when Caulfield was sentenced to 27 months in prison – with the final seven suspended – for his crime.
Read Paul’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.