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Suicide man may have been dead for weeks




Activity on a man’s bank account had to be analysed in an attempt to establish when he had taken his own life, an inquiry into his death heard.

The Inquest at Galway Courthouse concluded with an estimation that the 36 year old man died sometime between March and April 2014.

His neighbour had raised the alarm by alerting Gardaí in July to a very bad smell from the apartment. He told the inquiry that there was a build-up of post and a lot of flies inside the home, during a very hot period in the summer.

“On July 1, the smell was so intense – I could get it inside my house – like there was something rotting,” he said.

Garda Michael O’Malley climbed through a small window, where he found the remains hanging.

There was a suicide note left in the apartment.

“There was difficulty finding out when he was last seen alive,” he said, adding that the neighbour had not seen him for about two months.

Bank statements in the apartment revealed that the last withdrawal was made at the Tuam Road branch of the AIB on March 15, while all subsequent activity related to social welfare payments, direct debits, or standing orders.

Consultant pathologist, Dr Birgits Tietz, said that the remains presented to her on July 2 were in an advanced state of decomposition, and partly mummified, which was consistent with death “many weeks ago.”

She said that there was no “obvious pathology” for this reason, and DNA samples had to be sent for analysis to establish the man’s identity.

Dr Tietz advised Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, that death was likely about three months before he was found.

His brother told the inquiry that the dead man was estranged from most of his family. The only contact was with his mother, whom he contacted about once a month, but it was not unusual for him to be out of touch for six months.

“The last time she spoke to him was before Christmas,” he said.

“She told me in April that she hadn’t heard from him, and she wanted me to go up, slip a note under the door, and contact him.

“He has been estranged from his family, as he was aggressive and violent, and I said it was not a good idea. I suggested she contact the mental health services, and contact him in that way.”

He had read the suicide note, but could not assist the inquiry in pinpointing the exact date of death.

Dr MacLoughlin returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging.

He offered his sincere sympathies to the man’s brother, mother, and other family members on the tragic circumstances of his early and unexpected death.

His brother said that he would pass on these sentiments to his family.


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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.

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Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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.

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