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People living in fear, crime meeting is told

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People are living in fear of being attacked in their rural homes across the county while some others are living in terror of a repeat attack, a public meeting on crime heard.

The crux of the matter is that there aren’t enough Gardaí on the beat, not enough patrol cars and too few police stations left open in rural Galway – that was the consensus of those who attended the meeting on crime prevention in the community.

The meeting was organised by the three Galway West candidates for Fianna Fáil, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, Cllr Mary Hoade and John Connolly, who chaired the event.

Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Crime Prevention Officer, and Bernard Kearney, of Muintír na Tíre, reiterated the importance of personal awareness re security matters and crime and said that a good community alert scheme was crucial to help make people safe in their own homes.

Sgt Flanagan outlined a number of ways individuals and the community can prevent crime or help Gardaí solve crime.

Having your house burgled, said Sgt Flanagan, was probably one of the most traumatic crimes for householders not only because personal property was stolen but thinking of strangers going through your rooms and invading your privacy was very distressing.

A number of people at the meeting said they believed the courts weren’t hard enough on burglars believing it was now considered a misdemeanour and those who did speak from the floor called for longer sentences. It was also contended that free legal aid fees should be collected from those convicted through social welfare payments.

There was also huge criticism from the floor at how many people re-offended while out on bail.

Deputy Ó Cuív said each case was different and that prison wasn’t always the answer.

“We have to be logical about this. You can’t jail people forever. The best thing is to get them away from a life of crime. And though many benefit from courses while in prison, one of the best stabilisers I have been told, is having a stable relationship.

“Being employed, too, reduces the chance of them reoffending. There’s a huge social issue here that has to be tackled. I believe that prison can become a university of crime for young people so sending people to prison for every crime is not the answer,” he added.

The message from the meeting was that the best way to reduce crime was vigilance, being aware of taking certain safety measures whether at home, in a place of business or in your car. But as well as individual responsiblities, communities, too, could help by being mindful of elderly people, especially those living on their own, being alert to strange and unusual movements in their areas, according to Sgt Flanagan who said he was more than happy to talk to residents associations and community groups.

Mr Kearney said Muintír na Tíre had helped set up a number of community alert groups and had recently set up a text alert scheme. He spointed out there were still a lot of vulnerable older people living in isolation in rural areas. These people, he said, needed to be checked on regularly and that was something communities could take on.

Cllr Mary Hoade said the moratorium on Gardaí had hit their numbers which meant less of them on the beat. The closure of ten Garda stations in rural Galway had not helped matters, she added.

John Connolly, who chaired the event, said: “Every community across County Galway has felt the effects of this crime wave that is sweeping across the country. Not a week goes by without reports about the latest burglary or robbery and people are becoming increasingly fearful in their own homes, especially those who are elderly or living on their own. I was shocked recently at the number of people who raised the issue with me on the doorstep,” said Mr Connolly.

Though burglaries, both in private homes and businesses, were much discussed, other crimes worrying those in attendance (there were about 80 in the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill), were scams and bogus callers.

Sgt Flanagan advised people not to engage with unsolicited telephone callers or with cold callers to the door and never part with banking details.

Connacht Tribune

Galway husband and Roscommon wife cheer on different sides of Connacht Final fence!

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Galway supporter Michael Bradley and his wife Roscommon supporter Siveen Bradley in Ballinasloe this week. Pic Gerry Stronge

The Bradley family in Ballinasloe have divided loyalties ahead of this Sunday’s Connacht senior football final between neighbouring counties Galway and Roscommon.

Mike Bradley, from Ballinasloe town, is a ‘stone mad’ Galway GAA fan – but his wife Siveen is from Newtown, a village three miles over the border and will be very much shouting for the Rossies.

Her nephew is Paul Carey, a rising star of Roscommon GAA, and already a legend in the Pádraig Pearses club, who could torment the home team’s defence at Pearse Stadium if he’s recovered from injury and if he’s fit and picked to play.

Though he may not feature this weekend, the 21-year-old Carey made his senior inter-county debut this season during Anthony Cunningham’s march to Division Two League success; and landed eight points for Pearses in the South Roscommon club’s first ever provincial title win in January.

Siveen, a sacristan in St Michael’s Church, and Mike, a caretaker in Canal House, live on Bridge Street and they’ll watch the provincial decider at home on television – because she could not handle the nerves of watching it live in Salthill.

“I watch the matches on telly or listen on the radio. The only reason I don’t go to the matches is I’d get too excited! I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Even when it’s on the telly I’d be turning it off and on and texting my sister have they won because I couldn’t watch! I’m fierce bad,” laughed Siveen.

Her daughter, Siobhán, a Galway supporter, is married to a Mayo man, Seán Vahey, who live in Castlebar.

“As bad and all as I am I have a daughter married to a Mayo man! I’m up against it,” joked the proud Roscommon woman.

Read full coverage ahead of the Connacht Football Final 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.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway not getting its fair slice of Government cake

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Galway County Buildings.

Galway County Council needs a bailout – because it is continually underfunded by central government…and not because of rapidly rising inflation.

Chief Executive Jim Cullen warned County Councillors this week that Galway County Council is the lowest funded local authority in the country per capita.

This underfunding, ongoing for years, was impacting on its capacity to deliver services in the county.

Mr Cullen said he was also concerned that cost inflation and rising cost of inputs, materials, fuel and energy were going to have an impact.

But he said that ‘the only bailout we need’ is a correction in the per capita funding it receives from central government.

He said “I don’t expect to get a bailout” to cover the cost of inflation, because it was impacting on all local authorities.

“If we do, that’s good,” he said.

But Mr Cullen urged County Councillors to ‘stay focused’ on the real financial problem facing the local authority historically and now, which was underfunding.

He said he has taken every opportunity to raise this issue with junior and senior ministers who visit Galway, including most recently Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.

He signalled it involved a fairer distribution and retention of the money raised in the county through Local Property Tax.

Read 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.

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Connacht Tribune

Drugs feud boils over with pipe bomb attack

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TWO arson attacks on houses in Ballinasloe over the past week – one of them involving a pipe bomb – are believed to be part of a feud related to drugs.

Both incidents occurred in the Hymany Park area of the town with a pipe-bomb used in the first one which took place shortly after 2am on the Friday morning of May 20 last.

The pipe bomb was set off at the front door of the house which had one occupant when the attack occurred – the man did not suffer any injury in the incident.

However, extensive damage was caused to the front of the house with a door and window destroyed – Gardaí have described the use of a pipe bomb as ‘very worrying’.

In what could be a related incident, another house in the Hymany Park was the target for an arson attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning last.

A fire accelerant – possibly petrol – was splashed onto the front door of the house at around 4am which was then set alight. The damage is understood to have been confined to the front door area.

A Garda spokesperson issued an appeal for anyone with information in relation to either incident – or who may have relevant dash cam or camera footage – to make contact with them.

“Both incidents were highly reckless, but we are particularly concerned at the use of an explosive pipe-bomb device in the first one.

Read 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.

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