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.
New fire station for Athenry gets stamp of approval
Councillors have given their stamp of approval to a new fire station for Athenry – voting unanimously to grant planning for the development at Ballygarraun South.
The site of just under two acres, located between the new Presentation College and the railway line, will house a station as well as a training tower and parking.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Duffy told a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week that they hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of October, with works to get underway soon afterwards.
“We have worked very hard to get this project to a tangible position and it’s great that the ‘Part 8’ planning application [one which requires a vote by councillors] has been adopted today,” said Mr Duffy.
“This will hopefully get underway this year and we can move on to other stations [in the county], with another one planned for next year and another the year after,” he added.
The plans include the construction of a 361 square metre fire station with finishing materials common to the area which ‘will link the development on the site to the context overall’.
Permission has been granted from the IDA, which owns the site, for Galway County Council to proceed with the development on their lands.
The meeting heard that consideration had been given to the sightlines for exiting fire trucks and that amendments had been made to the original plans to ensure they were adequate.
Local area councillor Gabe Cronnelly (Ind) said the progression of a new fire station for the town was hugely welcome, adding that it had been years in the making.
“We have to give huge credit to Paul Duffy who pursued this. Athenry is one of the busiest stations in the county. We secured an extension for the existing station six years ago and when the Department was granting that, they could see that, from the amount of calls it was getting, that a new station was justified,” said Cllr Cronnelly.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she was ‘delighted’ that the area’s representatives had given the proposal their unanimous backing.
Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport
From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.
The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.
According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.
Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.
Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.
A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.
However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.
Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.
In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.
Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.
Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.
The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.
Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.
Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.
Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.
Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.