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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

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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