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Senator fights to save old taxis from end of the road



Some Galway taxis face being put off the road – and out of business – because of the controversial ‘ten year rule’, a senator has claimed.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) will not renew taxi licences for cars that are aged more than 10 years, apart from some exceptions.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said the rule is unfair because it isn’t flexible enough to take into account that high-end cars bought more than ten years ago can often be safer and in better condition than newer ones.

The Sinn Féin senator said it was this sort of red tape that was forcing taxi drivers out of business in Galway .

Raising the matter in the Seanad, the Connemara-based senator said: “I know a number of taxi drivers in Galway who invested in higher-end car brands such as BMW and Mercedes for reasons of comfort more than ten years ago.

“Their cars are still roadworthy and have passed the national car test. They are in much better condition than some newer cars on the roads. These drivers have a serious problem with the requirement that they decommission their taxis as it will put a number of them out of business.”

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said the problem of rogue taxis and a lack of enforcement by the regulator was also an issue in Galway.

“Drivers are also concerned about the enforcement of taxi regulations in Galway city where a number of taxi drivers are flagrantly abusing the rules. Enforcement in the city is not working,” he said, demanding the Minister intervene.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohue said he did not agree with Senator Ó Clochartaigh in relation to the 10-years rule, which he said was in the best interests of taxi users.

“You made the point about the age limit requirement for taxis. I know taxi drivers have had difficulties with this change but I believe it is a policy that should be supported.

“I strongly believe it offers people who visit our country and regular taxi users a better quality of car in the long run. While I accept that it did cause difficulties during the introduction period, I strongly believe that in the long run, it will be in the best interests of the taxi industry and people who depend on taxis,” said Minister Donohue.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run



A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda



Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway



Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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