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CITY TRIBUNE

Sleeping woman sexually assaulted, court hears

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A 28-year-old man who sexually assaulted a woman as she slept in a friend’s house, went to his parish priest to look for guidance before telling his family about what he had done.

Brian Finnegan, from Kilsallagh, Williamstown, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last October to sexually assaulting the then 22-year-old woman in a house at University Road on October 15, 2017.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had initially directed the charge could be dealt with at District Court level if Finnegan entered a guilty plea, but he pleaded not guilty when the matter came before Galway District Court in 2018 and was sent forward for trial to the higher court.

Finnegan appeared before the Circuit Court last October for trial where he changed his plea to guilty when the charge was put to him.

Sentence was adjourned for the preparation of a victim impact statement and for a probation report on Finnegan.

Garda Vicky Duggan told the sentence hearing the young woman had returned to her friend’s house following a girls’ night out and had gone to sleep in her friend’s bed alone.

She woke up during the night to find Finnegan on top of her.  She tried to push him off and get up, but he pushed her back onto the bed before sexually assaulting her.

She shouted for help when she saw Finnegan attempting to take off his boxer shorts and managed to push him off her as her friend came into the room to assist her.  Finnegan was told to leave the house immediately afterwards.

He was subsequently interviewed by Garda Duggan and made certain admissions.

“He admitted he didn’t know the woman, and had “tried it on” but nothing else happened,” she said.

The woman became upset at times while reading her victim impact statement to the court.  She said she still struggled to deal with what happened to her.

“He took advantage of me.  I woke up to the horror of him trying to undress me against my own free will.  I was living a nightmare, I cried so much that night,” she said.

The incident had left her feeling angry, sad, lonely and sick.  She said she had become a burden to her family and boyfriend and she was always fearful that people would judge her if they knew she had been sexually assaulted.

“I get angry and sad when I hear the words ‘sexual assault’ and ‘rape’,” she sobbed.

The woman said to her attacker that she wanted him to think every day about what he had done to her.

Defence barrister, Michael Clancy, apologised to the woman on behalf of his client and assured her that he did think every day of what he did that night and felt ashamed.

“He was so distraught about this that before telling his family, he went to his parish priest and he gave him guidance to deal with this in the appropriate manner,” Mr Clancy said.

A medical report from Finnegan’s GP was handed into court, stating he suffered from low mood since the incident and was on medication.

A letter from his employer at a Roscommon meat factory along with a “glowing tribute” from his former football club, and a letter from the parish priest were also handed in.

“He admitted it was wrong straight away and on the night he himself began to cry on realising what had just occurred,” Mr Clancy said of his client.

Judge Rory McCabe said this had been a reckless and unsolicited attempt by the accused to engage in sexual contact with an innocent victim who woke to find him on top of her.

“His best explanation is that he was drunk and was ‘trying it on’ and that he didn’t know the victim,” the judge noted.

He said that, thankfully, due to the victim’s quick action and the intervention of her friend, the attack ended quickly.

Judge McCabe placed the headline sentence – before aggravating and mitigating circumstances were taken into account – at three years.

However, on hearing the probation service had yet to complete a second, more detailed risk assessment on Finnegan, he decided to adjourn finalisation of sentence to May 22.

“There are no winners in this case and the victim is justifiably outraged at what happened to her,” he said.

Noting Finnegan was already on the Sex Offenders’ Register following his guilty plea last October, Judge McCabe said that was a significant penalty in itself but it was justified for what he described as Finnegan’s “grossly offensive conduct”.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council pays €120k to orange bollards’ company

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For a while, the joke was that just like Londoners with rats, people in Galway were never more than two feet away from an orange bollard. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Do you remember last year, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Government fired a heap of cash at local authorities to do stuff – any stuff – under the general guise of ‘mobility’?

And then do you remember, we all tentatively emerged from our cocoons and discovered the city centre had been overrun by a new species, the orange bollard?

The running joke for some time locally was that – just like rats in London – in Galway you’re never more than two feet away from an orange bollard.

Yeah, well, the company that supplied Galway City Council with those gaudy orange bollards was paid over €120,000 for transport equipment during the pandemic.

Not all of it was spent on bollards that are so bright they can, like the Great Wall of China, be seen from space. But a fair chunk of it was.

According to records released to Galway City Tribune, under Freedom of Information (FOI), the Council made dozens of payments to Drogheda-based IPL Group Ltd between February 2020 and May 2021.

The amount paid to IPL Group during that time totalled over €120,000. Records indicate that as much as €67,510 of this outlay was on bollards, including semi-permanent orange ones.

A little over €30,000 was spent by the Council in May and June 2020, as we emerged from lockdown; including thousands on orange and white, and black and white, road flexi-bollards with reflective tape.

In July, it spent €12,000 on black and white quick-flex bollards; and in September, it ordered more orange, and black and white bollards to the value of €18,000. Last February, the records show, the Council spent a further €6,500 on more orange and white bollards with reflective resin tape.

As well as bollards, over €50,000 was spent with IPL Group on speed ramps, pole-retention sockets and plugs, and Weebol Flex signs, a bollard variation.

We don’t know how many bollards the Council bought off IPL, nor do we know the price per bollard.

The City Council said: “The unit price of each item was redacted. This is because the cost of the items will be known to competitors, and they may contain discounts from the supplier to Galway City Council. Disclosure of this unit price may jeopardise the competitive position of the supplier in that they may be undercut in future tender competitions by competitors as they will know what they charged for these items to Galway City Council.

“Furthermore, the release of this information may reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct or outcome of contractual or other negotiations of the supplier to whom the information relates. Release of records describing a possible discount to Galway City Council may affect any negotiation with another consumer or purchaser.

“The number of units procured per item was also redacted, as it may be the case that the total price may be divided by the number of units procured and may give an indication of unit price.”

Aside from the nonsense that the City Council won’t reveal the price per bollard for fear its supplier is undercut – and by extension it and the ratepayer might get cheaper bollards – was it money well spent?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tommy Tiernan among acts in Róisín Dubh comedy line-up

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Tommy Tiernan: Chat show host, actor and, above all, comedian.

Tommy Tiernan will perform his brand-new show, Tomfoolery, in Leisureland on Thursday and Friday, February 25 and 26.

The show, being presented by the Róisín Dubh, is billed as “a high-energy mix of outrageous ideas and whimsical flights of fancy”.

Comedian, actor and, more recently, chat-show host Tommy is performing a series of warm-up gigs in the Róisín in January  for the main event – they sold out within minutes of going on sale last week.

In a comedy career spanning 25 years, Tommy has toured extensively at home and abroad, and guested on top TV shows including three appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in the US. He’s also has had his own one-hour special broadcast on Comedy Central USA. More recently, Tommy has begun presenting a talk show on RTÉ, an improvised live programme where he has no idea of who his guests are until they appear on set. And he’s a better chat-show host than anyone else in this country, by a country mile. But it’ll be comedy that he’ll be focusing on in Leisureland on February 25 and 26. Tickets for those shows are €35.

The Róisín is on a comedy roll and will present Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience in April at the Galmont Hotel.

This version of Basil, Sybil and Manuel from Australia’s Interactive Theatre has played more than 500 sell-out shows in Ireland in the past decade – 20 of them in Galway City. Some of the show’s scenes will be familiar from TV, some will be off-the-cuff but all will have a ‘Faulty’ seasoning. Everything that can go wrong, does in this two hours of “controlled chaos and hilarity” where dinner is part of the act.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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