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Connacht Tribune

Speeding driver abused Garda after being stopped

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A motorist who became aggressive towards a Garda after he was stopped for undertaking and overtaking cars at speed on a dual carriageway, was convicted of dangerous driving and disqualified for two years.

John White (38), Circular Road, Gort, appeared before Galway District Court this week where he denied driving dangerously, in a manner including speed, at Bothar na dTreabh, Galway, on December 19, 2016.

He also denied he breached the peace, by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour in a public place at Tuam Road, Galway, on the same date.

He further denied two more charges for refusing to give his driving licence and his date of birth to Garda Shane Lambe on the evening in question.

Garda Lambe told the hearing he was operating a speed check at 7.51pm on Bothar na dTreabh when he detected a white Audi A6 travelling at 111km/h in the 50km/h zone, undertaking and overtaking other vehicles as it approached him.

He pursued the vehicle on his motorbike and it pulled in at Supermac’s on the Tuam Road.

He said a man got out of the car, while a woman who had been in the passenger seat, ran into Supermac’s. Garda Lambe said he explained to the man he had stopped him for speeding and the man had flippantly replied: “So?”

He said the man kept walking away from him as he tried to speak to him.  Garda Lambe said he asked the man for identification and he said he didn’t have any.

He said the man then quickly flashed a bank card in his face and he noticed the name on the card was John White.

Garda Lambe said he asked the man four times for his date of birth. He said the defendant went into Supermac’s and came back out a minute later.

Garda Lambe said that while he was recording White’s name in his notebook, White asked to see the speed gun.

He said White tried to grab the gun off him and he had to move it from one hand to the other. White then went to grab his arm. He then put the gun into the pannier on his motorbike.

The Garda said White asked him aggressively to show him the gun again but he refused to do so.  He said White shouted at him a number of times and asked him if he was f**kin’ deaf under his helmet.

Garda Lambe told Judge Mary Fahy he decided to retreat from the scene as he began to fear for his own safety.  He said that when he got onto his motorbike to leave, the defendant stood in front of the bike, took out his phone and started to record him, demanding to see the speed gun again.

Garda Lambe said he got off the bike, and for the purpose of the recording, he showed White the gun again. He said he then left the scene because he was fearful for his own personal safety.

In reply to Inspector Brendan Carroll, prosecuting, Garda Lambe said White had given him a flippant response when first shown the speed gun reading and in a condescending tone he had said, “So?” while continuing to walk away from him.

He said White told him his address was Gort and he would find him at that address. Garda Lambe said he had used the Audi’s registration to obtain White’s full address.

White gave evidence he worked in the security industry, installing CCTV and intruder alarms. He said he had been Christmas shopping in Galway that day with his fiancée who was heavily pregnant at the time.

He disagreed with Garda Lambe that he was speeding.  He said he had been driving a white Audi A5 and Garda Lambe had mistaken his car for another car.

Insp. Carroll clarified that Garda Lambe had recorded the car was an Audi A5 in his written statement.

White told Judge Fahy his fiancée had a serious pain as they were driving home and she asked him to pull in to use the bathroom in Supermac’s on the Tuam Road.

He said he told Garda Lambe his fiancée was in pain and he would need to take her to the hospital, but the Garda was not very helpful.

He said he produced his driving licence to the Garda from his wallet and denied it had been a bank card.

He said he also gave Garda Lambe is name and address when asked.

He said he asked to see the speed gun because Garda Lambe had told him he had been doing 111km/h.  He said he could not have been doing that speed because the cruise control was switched on.

He denied he had stood in front of Garda Lambe’s motorbike or that he had tried to grab his arm. “I was not threatening, abusive or insulting to him.  I said no bad word to him,” White told Judge Fahy.

He said he brought his partner to the hospital after the incident that evening.

Judge Fahy said Garda Lambe was an experienced member of the Garda traffic corps and it was unusual for him to say he had to retreat for his own safety because of White’s aggression.

The judge said she did not accept White’s evidence that there had been a medical emergency as he had been driving away from the direction of the hospital and not towards it at the time he was stopped.

“He seems to think it’s okay to record a Garda in the course of his duty.   That is quite wrong,” Judge Fahy said.

Insp. Carroll said White had 18 previous convictions, four of which were for road traffic offences and the other for public order offences.

Judge Fahy convicted White on all charges, noting a disqualification was mandatory on the dangerous driving charge.

She convicted and fined him €500 for that offence and disqualified him from driving for two years.

He fined him €100 for not producing his licence to Garda Lambe, €100 for refusing to give his date of birth and €100 for breaching the peace.

Leave to appeal the convictions was granted.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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