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Connacht Tribune

One in three learners fail their driving test in Galway



One in three learner drivers (32%) fail their driving test in Galway City.

The failure rate is even higher at Tuam’s driving test centre, where two out of every five learner drivers (44%) fail their tests.

Nationally, the overall failure rate for driving tests is 40%.

The figures were obtained by Fianna Fáil and relate to the number of driving tests taken during one week this August.

During the week ending August 18, there were some 106 driving tests scheduled to take place in Galway City. Of these, some 59 drivers passed their test and 34 failed. A further eight didn’t show up and five tests couldn’t go ahead due to problems with paperwork or the vehicle.

In Tuam, during the same week, there were 25 tests scheduled. Of these, 13 passed, 11 failed and there was one no-show.

There were no driving tests in Loughrea or Clifden during that week, according to the figures.

There is some variance in the pass rates at driving centres nationally.

In Gorey 42 people failed the test while just 20 passed, giving an almost 70% failure rate, while in Donegal almost 80% of applicants passed. Also, in three of the major testing centres in Dublin in Churchtown, Finglas and Raheny more people failed than passed.

Meanwhile, learner drivers are waiting on average 12 weeks to get their test in Loughrea, Galway and Clifden. The average wait in Tuam is nine weeks. The longest drivers are waiting for a test in Clifden is 24 weeks; in Galway City it is 21 weeks; in Loughrea 22 weeks; and in Tuam 19 weeks.

The Road Safety Authority said it aims to have an average wait time of 10 weeks across the country but it varies by centre. The longest waiting time for car driver testing was in Skibbereen at 26 weeks, with 25 weeks in Castlebar, Cavan, Gorey, Killarney and Kilrush.

Fianna Fáil Senator Victor Boylan said failure rates was contributing to the backlog in waiting times.

Mr Boylan said: “If Minister for Transport Shane Ross is serious about tackling this issue and also enabling people on a first learner’s permit to progress readily to a full licence, he needs to immediately sanction more testers and resources. “

“The Minister and the RSA need to act on what can be done to deliver a more consistent and higher pass rate in all centres across the country.”

Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised



Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’



Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years



Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from

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