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Connacht Tribune

Residents keep horses inside Council homes



A number of local authority tenant families were making life “a living nightmare” in a housing estate in Gort as the Gardaí and council officials sat idly by, it was claimed.

Cllr Gerry Finnerty (FF) said he has been plagued by complaints about the estate on Crowe Street, centring on antisocial behaviour, horses being kept in and outside houses and dumping.

“I believe the cameras are not at all times working. I had one resident who was told by another resident she’d be removed from the estate. She’s a mother with three kids. She went to the guards and was told the cameras are not working and they said are you sure you want to make a complaint, you have to live there,” he told this month’s Loughrea Municipal District meeting.

“A resident is putting a horse onto the green at night. There are guys going out picking up rubbish illegally and then dumping it out the country.”

He read out other text messages from residents detailing how they had been threatened with physical violence and were unable to sleep due to non-stop shouting throughout the night. Caravans were often parked outside some houses containing horses.

“It’s time we get strict with these and put the boot in. As one fella said, my kids are playing on the road and the horse is on the green,” said the Gort representative.

Galway County Council’s tenancy enforcement officer Evan Mulvey said since the CCTV cameras were installed at Crowe Street in early 2016 there had been a marked reduction in the number of complaints about antisocial behaviour incidents on site.

“I’m in Prospect Hill three or four days a week and the phone is not ringing about these incidents. They need to report crime and threats to the guards,” he told the meeting.

“The issue about a horse in Gort only came to my attention this morning…if there are issues in relation to a tenant for antisocial behaviour we will deal with it, but we have to those complaints. The same for looking at the cameras – we have to have a complaint before the cameras are checked.

“Criminal stuff is a matter for the guards. But all the cameras on Crowe Street and Gort are working, I can assure you of that.”

Cllr Jimmy McClearn (FG) said when he sat on the housing strategic policy committee €1 million of taxpayer-funded property was damaged or destroyed in a single year.

“People are just living in hell and we as a local authority can’t do anything about them. I was told we can’t start transferring people because the floodgates would open, so we’re trying to put a lid on it but sooner or late that lid will blow.

“A family with children can’t go outside the door, they can’t play, can’t engage in normal activity we take for granted.

“We can’t put CCTV everywhere, but we can get out with determination to enforce tenancy agreements. It’s not fair on people who do their best to go out to work and people out partying at 2am or 3am ensuring they can’t get a night’s sleep. As a local authority, we’re too placid, two understanding for too long and it’s got to stop.”

Mr Mulvey said he worked on a case where the tenant was prosecuted for antisocial behaviour and this person got three months in jail with a fine.

“Yes it was adjourned a couple of times and we were frustrated but the system will work. We’ve had two Section 12 eviction cases this year about persistent breaches of tenancy agreements and it went all the way to court and we were successful under the 2014 Housing Act.”

While the council had no authority to deal with tenants who have agreements with other housing bodies, it had to issue several warnings before it could take enforcement proceedings against its own tenants.

“If we go with something and we haven’t put the work in, we run the risk of it being thrown out and will have implications for other cases. Behind the scenes, warnings are being issued, inspections are taking place. Unfortunately, it’s not happening as fast as would like it to happen,” he stated.

“If we have no option we will pursue eviction, but every effort has to be made to maintain a tenancy.”

Cllr Finnerty said he was “baffled” to hear the Council was unaware of the extent of the problems in Crowe Street.

He urged the official to immediately visit the estate to “check for dogs, animals, pigs in trailers, horses in trailers and caravans, check what residents are there”.

He also invited Mr Mulvey to attend the next neighbourhood watch meeting, which he agreed to do.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars



Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team



Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78



Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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