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Significant issue with heroin in Galway, says Judge

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A Lithuanian heroin dealer smiled with relief when sentenced to five months in prison for selling the drug on the streets of Galway this summer.

His arrest last July was a direct result of an ongoing operation by the local Garda Divisional Drugs Unit into the drug-dealing activities of a Dublin-based Lithuanian criminal gang here in Galway.

Imposing sentence this week at the holiday sittings of Galway District Court, visiting Judge Marie Keane said that since coming to Galway this August she could not help but notice “a significant issue with drugs in the city, moving onto more serious drugs”.

Arturas Rimkevicius (25), 330 Tirellan Heights, Headford Road, was caught red-handed by Garda Paul McNulty and Garda Orla Flatley with ten bags of heroin ‘deals’ worth €250 as he left his rental address at 5.45pm on July 3 last to ply his trade on the streets of Galway.

A follow-up search of the house in Tirellan yielded a further 70 bags of heroin ‘deals’ worth €1,750 along with a quantity of cash, which Gardai believe to be the proceeds of drug dealing.

Inspector Mick Dwyer explained the ongoing Garda operation had been mounted to target the Lithuanian gang’s criminal activities in the Galway area.

Both Gardai had the house under observation and Rimkevicius was arrested and subsequently charged with having amphetamines, cannabis and heroin in his possession at the above address on July 3 last and with having the drugs for sale or supply on the same date.

He was further charged with obstructing Garda Paul McNulty by attempting to swallow ten bags of heroin, refusing to spit them out and resisting arrest on the same date.

A backlog of cases at the National Forensic Science Laboratory in Dublin delayed the certificate of analysis for the drugs seized at the time and the case could not be dealt with until the certificate issued this week.

Inspector Mick Dwyer said there were eight charges before the court.

He then withdrew four of the charges following a plea by Rimkevicius to the remaining four charges; two for possession of drugs and two drug dealing charges.

Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin said his client had been in custody since July 4 last and had only been in Galway a few months before his arrest.

“He is not the first person to come before this court in similar circumstances.

“It’s been accepted that these people are being trafficked and are victims of their own circumstances.

”In Lithuania they are promised a better life but when they arrive here, they are handed a phone and drugs and told to sell them,” he said.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Gilmartin said his client had been in custody for two months already and his intention had always been to plead guilty.

Judge Keane observed: “This court cannot take a lenient approach to drugs.  Drugs are a scourge of the modern age.

“I’ve noticed since sitting in Galway this month, a significant issue with drugs, moving onto more serious drugs.”

The judge said that while she accepted Rimkevicius was a lesser player, it was significant he had ten heroin deals on him when caught and had 70 more in the house along with cash.

She sentenced Rimkevicius to three months for the drug dealing charges and two months for the possession charges, both sentences to run consecutively. She backdated the sentence to July 3, when the accused first went into custody.

Rimkevicius smiled and joked with the Lithuanian interpreter when she explained the sentence to him and he smiled broadly as he was led away by prison officers.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush

Dara Bradley

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Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure

Declan Tierney

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The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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