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Connacht Tribune

Operations exposes illegal cigarette trade in Galway



Illegal cigarettes can easily be bought in Galway city, an undercover operation into illicit tobacco trade suggests.

The survey, conducted in December by retired undercover detectives, reveals the ease with which cigarettes and loose tobacco can be purchased in the city.

It was paid for by one of the tobacco industry’s leading players, Philip Morris International, whose main brand of cigarette is Marlboro.

A Galway website dedicated to selling illegal tobacco was uncovered in the sting; and illegal cigarettes were purchased in city pubs, from customers and staff, as well as from people trading on the streets.

The authors of the report gathered intelligence that suggested illegal tobacco was also for sale in Tuam and Athenry. “In nearly every town now there are one or two outlets where you can buy illicit or illegal cigarettes,” said Kevin Donohoe, a retired Detective Chief Superintendant in the Garda Síochána.

All intelligence is forwarded to Revenue Customs and Gardaí, he said.

Mr Donohoe, along with Will O’Reilly, former Detective Chief Inspector with Scotland Yard, carried out the research into the illegal tobacco trade in Ireland. The pair and a team of buyers visited Galway and 14 other urban areas last year.

The team of four visited Galway on December 8 and 9 last year, and despite the extremely wet weather, found it was easy to buy illicit cigarettes.

In total ten illicit tobacco products were purchased during the operation. The haul included two packs of illicit cigarettes, one carton of illicit cigarettes, five pouches of illicit roll-your-own tobacco, and two clear plastic bags of loose cut tobacco leaf. The cigarettes were being sold at about half the price of normal retail prices.

“In Galway City purchases were made twice from staff in a public house, once from a customer in a public house, three times (including one repeat) from males selling via the internet, and twice from sellers in the street. Overall we found illicit tobacco products relatively easy to obtain,” the report said.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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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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