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Shoplifters jailed for thefts on first day in Ireland



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.


Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events



From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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