The Department of Agriculture is to monitor a Loughrea woman to ensure she does not resume operations of her animal rescue centre after she was convicted of ill-treating dogs.
Sarah Gunther, from Kylebrack in Loughrea, ran the East Galway Animal Rescue (EGAR) sanctuary was prosecuted last month, after the Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made complaints to the Gardaí.
The Department of Agriculture has since warned that Ms Gunther will be monitored.
Following queries from local Fine Gael Dáil Deputy Paul Connaughton, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said Ms Gunther had been summonsed under old legislation and that the new Animal Health and Welfare act allows for fines of up to €250,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years.
“Clearly the evidence presented in this case demonstrated how necessary it was to update animal welfare legislation. My Department will continue to work with local authorities, the Gardaí and animal welfare bodies to ensure that animal welfare is protected.
“Officials of the Dept will monitor, in conjunctions with the Galway local veterinary officer, the lady in question to ensure that she does not resume animal rescue activities,” Minister Coveney said.
The court heard that Gardaí seized eight dogs from the EGAR sanctuary and evidence was given that they were in an emaciated condition, and there was no evidence that they had diarrhoea, as claimed by Ms Gunther.
The defence said Ms Gunther had seen around 3,000 animals pass through her hands in her 17 years rescuing and that the dogs in this case did not come to her in good condition
She was subsequently fined €250 on one summons and ordered to pay €600 in witness expenses for two vets to attend court.
Minister Coveney subsequently explained: “This case predates the coming into operation of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 in March of this year. This Act strengthens considerably the powers for dealing with cases of animal cruelty.
“There are provisions under the Act for powers of intervention where an animal is deemed to be at risk of being welfare compromised and issues such as the prevention of unnecessary suffering and abandonment of animals are also addressed.
“The Act also contains a ‘disqualification’ provision which will enable the courts to ban individuals who are convicted of serious offences from owning or keeping animals.
“The penalties for breaches of animal welfare legislation have been increased with fines being proportionate to the offence. For major cases taken on indictment, the maximum penalty has been raised from €100,000 to €250,000 with a maximum custodial sentence of five years,” said Minister Coveney.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.
Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.
It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.
The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.
Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.
In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.
This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.
Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.
It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.
Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.
Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.
“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.
He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.
Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.
In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.
“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.
(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.