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CITY TRIBUNE

Shoplifters jailed for thefts on first day in Ireland

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Two Bulgarian women who were arrested for stealing on their very first day in Ireland wailed loudly when they were told at Galway District Court that they were both being jailed.

The women had the services of an interpreter and calmly stood during evidence of how they preyed on two elderly women in two different supermarkets and stole their wallets.

Both Mariya Ivanova and Dochka Minkova, both of No Fixed Abode pleaded guilty to a theft at Tesco in Oranmore on May 24 last when they followed an 80-year-old customer, distracted her and took her handbag from her shopping trolley which contained a wallet worth €100 with €280 cash inside.

Ivanova also pleaded guilty to stealing a jacket worth €25 from Dunnes Stores on the same day. She had taken off her own jacket, put on the new one from the rack and walked out of the store, the Court heard.

They both pleaded guilty to following a 68-year-old customer in Dunnes and taking her wallet, worth €100 and containing €120 cash. The defendants were identified on CCTV cameras in both stores.

Judge Mary Fahy said that the women, aged 46 and 20, had obviously come to Ireland with a purpose and had used a modus operandi of targeting older, vulnerable customers and distracting them so they could rob them.

The Court was told by prosecuting Sergeant Aoife Curley that the 80-year-old woman wasn’t sleeping since she was robbed and was afraid to return to Tesco.

The second victim was quite nervous since. On the day, she had her ten-year-old grandchild with her and she had initially thought she had lost her purse and had retraced her steps to find it. She also had to go to her bank to get cash to pay for her goods. She hadn’t realised she had been robbed.

Judge Fahy said nobody expected to be followed and targeting in that manner in a supermarket.

Sgt Curley said that the wallets and the cash as well as the jacket had not been recovered.

Defending solicitor, Brian Gilmartin, said he understood a sum of money had been taken from his clients when they were arrested and they were willing to hand this over to the victims as compensation.

Judge Fahy said it was also much more than about compensation as people often had personal items in wallets other than bank cards and cash. She said she would accept their money to pay compensation but that it didn’t cover the stress or the panic involved in losing or having a wallet robbed off you. She further praised the Gardaí for the prompt way in which they solved the crime.

On hearing the women had just arrived in the country that day, Judge Fahy said they had certainly got right down to business and wondered if anyone else gained from their crimes.

She said she could understand – but quickly added she wasn’t condoning any crime – how people down on their luck might resort to crime, but said she was appalled at the way this crime had been premeditated and carried out.

Mr Gilmartin said Ivanova was aged 47 with seven children and divorced while her 20-year-old cousin, Minkova, was seven months pregnant.

Judge Fahy imposed a nine-month sentence on each of the women for the Tesco theft and further imposed a one-month concurrent sentence on Ivanova for stealing the jacket. Minkova was also given a five-month consecutive sentence for the Dunnes theft. All sentences are to be backdated to June 1 when they were first arrested.

Judge Fahy said it was up to the State to deport them and granted Mr Gilmartin’s request that recognisances be fixed at their own bail of €400 each and independent bail of €1,000.

The two women and their interpreter then went downstairs to the cells where the details of their sentence was explained to them. As Judge Fahy moved onto the next case, the loud wailing of the women downstairs could be heard for a few minutes as the business of the Court continued.

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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