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Connacht Tribune

Peeping Tom in ladies’ toilet cubicle wins sentence appeal

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A pervert who was caught spying on a woman through a peephole in a toilet cubicle has been successful in his appeal to have his four-month prison sentence suspended.

59-year-old Vincent Moran, of 75 Riveroaks, Claregalway, admitted to Gardaí when arrested last year that he loved hiding in public toilets so he could get a thrill watching women go to the toilet.

Moran, a former ESB employee, pleaded guilty before Galway District Court last June to intentionally engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature in a public place at the Ardilaun Hotel, Taylor’s Hill, on February 16 last year.

A four-month prison sentence was imposed in the District Court at the time, which Moran appealed last week to the Circuit Court on the grounds of severity only.

The appeals court heard this was not Moran’s first time before a court for watching women going to the toilet, as he had been given the benefit of the Probation Act in 2006, for spying on another woman in another city hotel toilet in 2005.

The victim of last year’s offence broke down and cried in the witness box as she recounted the incident to Judge Marie Keane at the initial hearing before Galway District Court last June.

“I’ve been left feeling humiliated and degraded by what happened to me,” she sobbed.

She had been attending a wedding with her partner and went into the women’s toilet in the early hours of the morning.

She went into a cubicle and as she sat down, she noticed a peephole in the cubicle wall adjoining the next cubicle.

She took a wad of toilet paper and put it into the hole. However, the plug of paper popped back out again and when she looked through the hole, she could see an eye staring back at her.

The woman immediately left the cubicle and called her partner. She saw a pair of chunky men’s shoes when she looked under the door of the other cubicle before leaving the toilets.

She was making a complaint to staff at reception when she noticed a man wearing the same chunky shoes leave through the front door of the hotel and get into a taxi.

Her partner managed to take a photo of Moran before he got away.

Sergeant Kieran Duignan told the District Court he tracked Moran down through the Garda Pulse system and arrested and questioned him on April 7 last year.

“During interview, he [Moran] admitted going into women’s toilets for the thrill of watching women going to the toilet,” Sgt Duignan told the court.

According to a psychological assessment handed into court, there was a high risk of Moran reoffending if he did not engage in counselling or psychotherapy.

Judge Keane said this was Moran’s second offence and he had admitted to the psychologist this year that he committed this type of offence many times over many years.

She noted Moran had been given an opportunity to receive counselling in 2006 which he refused and he didn’t go for counselling either since this second offence occurred, which showed he was not taking it seriously.

Imposing the four-month sentence, Judge Keane said she had a duty to protect the public and the only way she could protect it was by imposing the custodial sentence.

Moran appealed the severity of her sentence at a District Court Appeal hearing before the Circuit Court last Friday.

Sgt Duignan outlined the facts of the case again and told the appeal hearing Moran admitted going to the hotel that night “with the sole intention of doing what he did”.

Prosecuting State solicitor, Willie Kennedy said that presumably Moran had drilled the hole in the cubicle wall or had “caused the hole to come into being”.

Sgt Duignan said Moran made no admission about drilling the hole, but when he himself examined the toilets there were no similar type peepholes in any of the other cubicles.

Defence barrister, Garry McDonald, said Moran had lost his job as a result of his conviction and was no longer a member of local societies or groups in Claregalway.

He attributed media coverage of the case last June to Moran’s current isolation in his community.

“He was a lonely character before this and is more so now due to the embarrassment and shame,” Mr McDonald said.

He conceded Moran had not gone for counselling before last June’s District Court appearance, but was engaging well with his counsellor now.

He asked for the sentence to be suspended so that Moran could continue with counselling and avail of the support his brothers, who were present in court, could give him.

Judge Eoin Garavan said this was a sinister offence. He agreed that if Moran had gone for counselling in 2006 for his voyeuristic tendencies, he might not have reoffended.

“He was treated very leniently in 2006 and he didn’t go for counselling then because he got away with it.

“He has issues and, worryingly, there are no explanations in the [psychological] report as to why he does this,” the judge noted.

He said Moran was probably a pariah in his own locality but he had only himself to blame for that.

However, he said, Moran deserved a chance due to his age and his willingness to undergo counselling now.

He suspended the sentence for three years on condition Moran continue to receive psycho-therapy and counselling and comply with all directions from his doctors.  He bound him to keep the peace and not reoffend for three years.

Judge Garavan also directed Moran make a €1,000 donation to an appropriate women’s charity, saying “he needs to pay a price for what he did by feeling a bit of pain in his wallet”.

Mr Kennedy suggested the donation be offered to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre and if declined, the money could be offered to St Vincent de Paul.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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