Galway Bay fm newsroom – A helicopter pilot has been fined 20 thousand euro for flying dangerously low over thousands of people attending Ballinasloe Horse Fair three years ago.
Imposing the fines at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Thomas O’Donnell said it was “an absolute miracle” that the pilot was not killed or an appalling catastrophe had not happened.
40-year-old businessman, Michael Mannion of Castlesampson, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Co Westmeath, pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Irish Aviation Authority (Rules of the Air) Act.
Sergeant Tom Horkan told the sentence hearing that numerous calls were made to Gardaí and other emergency services on the evening of October 2nd 2011, to complain about the low flying helicopter in Ballinasloe.
Michael Mannion, the court was told had consumed a beer shandy with a meal in Athlone earlier that evening before flying home.
He then decided to fly to Ballinasloe and landed in a car park, 30 meters from the Moycairn Lodge and Hotel near the town where he consumed almost two pints of Budweiser.
He then got back into the helicopter and took off in the direction of Ballinasloe.
It was a misty evening with intermittent drizzle, low cloud and poor visibility.
The helicopter flew away from the town and crashed in a field, 10km from the town at 7.20p.m.
It later emerged, that according to aviation rules, Mannion should not have been flying after 7.10pm that evening as darkness was closing in.
Mannion told the court his licence had been suspended by the Irish Aviation Authority and he had no intention of applying for a new one.
Judge O’Donnell said he took the view that this was a folly, pursued by a person inexperienced to fly in such conditions.
Mannion was fined 10 thousand euro for operating a helicopter in a public place at a height less than 1,500 feet above the ground or water, over a congested area of Ballinasloe town.
He was fined an additional 10 thousand euro for flying the helicopter within 500 feet of the radio mast at Ballinasloe Garda Station.
Three other charges relating to flying the helicopter in the vicinity of the town centre, at such a height which would not have permitted and without the consent of the Irish Aviation Authority and also to flying it closer than 150m to a Ferris wheel at a funfair in the town, were all taken into account.
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Young climate action campaigners to gather for ‘Fridays for Future’ demonstration in city
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Young Galway climate action protestors will gather in the city tomorrow afternoon for a demonstration.
It’s part of the ‘Fridays for Future’ campaign – a worldwide movement of student led strikes to protest the lack of significant climate action by government.
The strike will take place in Eyre Square at 1.30pm.
The instigator of the world movement Greta Thunberg says ‘we can’t change the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed’.
Catherine Mc Donagh is one of the local organisers and also a leaving cert student at Scoil Einne in An Spideal.
She told Galway Bay FM news, students have strong opinions on why they want to protect their environment and their future.
Search for man missing from Athenry
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Gardaí are seeking the public’s assistance in finding Nicolas Couch, who is missing from the Athenry area
The 39 year old has been missing since Monday (sept 20)
Nicolas is described as being 6 feet 2 inches in height, of slim build and with blue eyes and greying hair.
When last seen, he was wearing dark jeans, a blue polo top and a black bomber jacket.
Gardaí and Nicolas’ family are concerned for his well-being.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Gardaí in Galway on 091 538000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.
1,355 new COVID-19 cases nationally
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 1,355* confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of 8am today, 286 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 59 are in ICU.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said:
“Our ongoing analysis of the epidemiological situation has informed the NPHET recommendation to evolve public health management of school settings from Monday next.
“The resumption of in-person education was associated with a significant increase in the numbers of children referred for testing in recent weeks. This increase was driven by the screening of asymptomatic children who had been identified as close contacts. This action was precautionary and was due to the diligence of parents and guardians bringing their children for tests. Despite significantly increased testing in this age group, there has only been a relatively modest increase in the detection of cases. We have also seen the associated positivity rate decrease from 16% to 5% which is very reassuring.
“Both nationally and internationally, the evidence tells us that schools are a low risk setting for the transmission of COVID-19 among school-going children and, as such, now is the right time to evolve our contact tracing approach, while maintaining the infection prevention and control in place in educational settings.
“NPHET will continue to monitor the trajectory of the disease. It is important that we all continue to adhere to the public health guidance and to protect each other by washing our hands, the wearing of masks where appropriate and by keeping our distance from each other to limit the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
“I would urge parents to keep children who are unwell and who experience the common symptoms of COVID-19 home from school and to contact your GP if you have any concerns.”