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Specialists units help Gardaí in war on drugs

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Galway Gardaí have scored a number of successes in tackling the illicit drugs trade in the county in the past eight months.

The latest Garda statistics prove that the number of drugs busts has increased compared with last year. And Galway’s top Garda say the presence of specialist drugs units based in two of the county’s major towns, has helped the local war on drugs.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley told the latest meeting of the County Galway Joint Policing Committee that there were 23 incidents of drugs for sale of supply in the first eight months of the year.

It represents an increase of 5% compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, those using drugs have also been targeted – the number of simple possession of illegal drugs has increased by 64% to 94 in the months to the end of August.

Chief Supt Curley said the increases in detections can be attributed to the existence of dedicated drugs units in Tuam and Ballinasloe.

A breakdown of the type of drugs seized was also presented to the meeting, and it included €41,650 worth of cocaine. This comprised two ‘nine bars’ of cocaine worth €20,000 each that were seized in two separate drugs busts including one in Ballinasloe.

There was €117,900 worth of cannabis seized during the period and the majority of it (€77,400) related to cannabis grow houses that have been put out of operation.

Some €14,660 worth of ecstasy and €3,820 worth of heroin was seized in the period January to the end of August.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley also reported good news in terms of drink driving – the number of incidents had fallen by 2% to 119 rural drink driving incidents.

He said that some 2,462 mandatory alcohol test (MAT) checkpoints were established in Galway since January, and a total of 9,698 breath tests were performed at those checkpoints.

He said that the MAT checkpoints were working because 62 of the 119 drivers detected behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol were detected at the checkpoints.

Chief Supt Curley confirmed to County Councillor James Charity (Ind) that the checkpoints typically last for 15 to 20 minutes after which they lose their effectiveness.

There were over 300 per month, and Gardaí also ‘bagged’ drivers suspected of drink driving if they have been pulled over as a result of a faulty headlight or some other reason, he said.

There were four incidents of drug driving, down from six recorded in the corresponding period last year.

Connacht Tribune

Under starters’ orders for packed Ballybrit

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Ballybrit...all set for a return of the big crowds.

Galway Racecourse has introduced free parking, multi-day tickets and entertainment like Nathan Carter to lure crowds back to Ballybrit for the first ‘normal’ summer festival since Covid-19.

Michael Moloney, General Manager of Galway Racecourse, said a shortage of accommodation in the city this year was ‘disappointing’, and may impact on attendance.

But he said he hoped punters would return to the Racecourse this year, with a few sweeteners such as free parking introduced to lure locals and day-trippers back to the track.

Covid meant that the 2020 festival was held behind closed doors, and just 1,000 people per day were permitted last year.

Mr Moloney said that the Galway Races was offering value for money in 2022, and he hoped that punters would come and support the event.

“We certainly need the support this year. It has been a tough two years in terms of Covid and the lack of people at the Racecourse. We’d love if people came out and supported us this year. We’ve tried to put on a festival that caters for everybody. We feel we have something to offer everybody. We’re trying to offer value for money as well at the Racecourse,” Mr Moloney said.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Retirements and no replacements leave Galway facing GP crisis

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A GP and County Councillor has called on the HSE to address as a matter of urgency the ‘massive crisis’ in relation to the recruitment and retention of GPs across County Galway.

Cllr. Evelyn Parsons told the Connacht Tribune this week that the dwindling number of GPs (General Practitioners) working across Galway over recent years should send alarm bells ringing.

She said that with 30 per cent of GPs – in County Galway alone – set to retire over the next ten years, a massive crisis in this area was looming.

“And that’s even if those doctors due to retire over the next ten years, don’t decide to go before that, as the current dwindling number of GPs are overworked, overburdened and overstretched.

“They cannot get to take a break as they cannot get locums – many are exhausted from their gargantuan contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Parsons.

She said that she had raised the GP crisis issue at the Regional Health Forum over the past year and added that there was now an urgent need to put a workforce planning strategy in place to address the problem.

“Covid-19 has only exacerbated these issues and with one million patients on hospital waiting lists, the necessity to have a proper GP service was never more important.

“The number and complexity of these cases [people on the waiting list] has increased because of the postponement of non-essential care and also late presentations around accessing health care during a pandemic,” said Cllr. Parsons.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Ex-offender helps former prisoners to rebuild their lives after doing their time

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Damien Quinn.

When Damien Quinn left Castlerea Prison in 2009, after three years locked-up for drugs-related offences, he thought he’d served his time. But the sentence was just beginning.

“Prison is where the punishment takes place but it’s not the hard part,” said the Tuam man.

“The hard part is when you get out and try to rebuild your life and get an opportunity, but you’re kept being told ‘no’ because they have this bit of information from your background that you can’t change,” he added.

He was involved in drugs, criminality and violence from the age of 15 to 23.

Now, aged 38, Damien has turned his life around. And he’s using his experience to help other ex-offenders to get back on track.

With seed funding from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, he established Spéire Nua.

Based in Athenry, the rehabilitative programme, as the Irish translation of its name suggests, aims to give a ‘new horizon’ to ex-offenders.

It has just received more funding for the project from KickStart for a feasibility study, administered through Pobal, with money from the Dormant Accounts Fund on behalf of Probation and Department of Justice.

Damien got back on the ‘straight and narrow’ after leaving Castlerea, and he is now a Social Enterprise Regeneration Project Coordinator and Community Education and Disability Officer with Galway Rural Development.

But it wasn’t easy, not least because his criminal conviction and past kept following him around.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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