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Probe into starvation of Galway horse herd

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Up to 20 horses were found in appalling conditions in Briarhill, following a complaint to the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health and Welfare unit.

It was only when the Department, assisted by the charity Hungry Horse Outside, entered the 30-acre site near Ballybrit racecourse last month that they realised the full extent of the mistreatment and cruelty.

Seven carcasses were found in the field at varying stages of decay, while the horses that had survived their horrific circumstances were starving, weak and being eaten alive by worms.

The horses that died of starvation had undergone unimaginable pain and suffering.

According to Hilary Robinson – founder of the Longford-based charity that took the live animals into their care – they died the cruellest of deaths.

“To die of starvation is a terrible thing, it’s just desperate. It’s just so horrendous because they fight so hard for their lives; that is just their natural instinct. Can you imagine standing in that weather and the cold all over the Christmas, hungry from one end of the day to the other, searching around for a bit of food?

“Even eating bits of branches, chewing on the timber and, you know, trying to plough the muck – just horrendous,” said Hilary.

On their first attempt to rescue the horses, Ms Robinson and her team took seven horses back to their Newtownforbes base, only filling the lorries to a safe level in the knowledge that the weakness of those rescued would almost certainly mean they would ‘go down’ during transportation.

When they returned, they found that the owner had removed several of the horses from the area before they had a chance to be rescued.

Of the eight horses rescued, only four have survived – three of which are mares and heavily in foal.

She has since had the owner of the horses at her door demanding the horses be given back – the details of which she has passed on to Gardaí.

She described how it is difficult to prove ownership and convict neglectful owners due to non-enforcement of laws surrounding micro-chipping – which has been a legal requirement since 2009 – and called for tighter controls.

“That’s where we come in – prevention is the best the whole way around – education, micro-chipping, and castration, those are the three important things – why breed horses if you don’t have a market,” said Hilary.

The charity is calling on the owner of the land to come forward so they can close it off to prevent a reoccurrence of these horrifying conditions.

“We need to emphasise this, we need the owners of the land to come forward so that we can close it up so that never happens again.

“The reason this one is so bad is the fact that it is Galway City, a very rich and affluent city; it’s beside the racecourse with helicopters flying for racing and things like that and these animals have been starving all winter long,” she said.

An investigation will now be carried out by the Department of Agriculture into this horrendous case of neglect.

A Department spokesperson said: “The Department can confirm that it is continuing its investigation into the neglect of horses in Briarhill.”

Ms Robinson believes the problem of neglect is at serious levels in Galway, with a further eight horses needing rescuing from a location in South County Galway this week.

Hungry Horse Outside, the GSPCA, the Department of Agriculture and a Dept of Agriculture vet will meet this week in Galway to formulate a strategy of prevention.

CITY TRIBUNE

Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year

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From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option

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From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway

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Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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