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Survey finds two-thirds of dumping fines unpaid

Dara Bradley

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Two thirds of all fines issued by Galway County Council for illegal dumping and littering remain unpaid.

The figures also reveal that on average, a quarter of all illegal dumping fines issued by the local authority are cancelled, although there were huge variances depending on which part of the county the fines were issued.

The shock figures have led to calls for the Council to take a tougher stance on litterers who feel they can get away with blighting the countryside.

A county councillor has called on the Council to ‘name and shame’ illegal dumpers by posting CCTV photographs of culprits online.

Just 38% of the 746 litter fines issued by the Council during 2014 and 2015 were paid.

The rest of the fines issued were either cancelled by the Council (28%) or remain to be paid by the perpetrator (34%).

The data was released to Adhmhaidin, the morning current affairs programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Community wardens in some parts of the county were busier issuing litter fines than they were in others.

It showed 42% or 152 of the 355 total litter fines issued across County Galway in 2015 were for illegal dumping in Connemara, while 14% (52) were in Athenry/Oranmore municipal district; 13% (46) were in Ballinasloe; 11% (40) were in Loughrea; and 18% (65) were in Tuam.

There was a large variance in whether fines were cancelled, depending on what part of the county illegal dumpers were fined.

In Ballinasloe, some 15% of all litter fines issued were cancelled by the Council but it was more than twice that percentage (38%) for those who were issued with fines for dumping in Tuam.

The level of cancelled fines was 19% in Athenry/Oranmore, 26% in Connemara, and 20% in Loughrea.

A Council spokesperson explained that one of the reasons more than one in every four litter fines is cancelled is because the culprits are caught by identifying vehicle number plates on CCTV but their addresses do not match.

The Council confirmed that some 133 (37%) fines for illegal dumping remain unpaid by the culprits.

It said that five people were found guilty for non-payment of fines and one person paid the dumping fine one the Council took legal proceeding for non-payment.

A further six individuals are being brought before the courts for non-payment, and they are awaiting a trial date.

Connemara county councillor, Tom Healy (SF) said the local authority should be more proactive in pursuing illegal dumpers and enforcing fines.

“To have 62% of fines unpaid causes serious issues in terms of how much weight the threat of enforcement for littering carries in the county. If persons guilty of illegal dumping feel they will not suffer the consequences of their actions, then communities and the environment will suffer for this. Illegal dumping costs the local authority and the taxpayer and imposes a burden on already overstretched budgets,” he said.

Councillor Healy added: “I can understand that there may be issues associating car registration plates and the guilty individuals where addresses do not match up, but where this is the case, we must up the ante to catch these people in the act. I have argued previously that we employ new portable camera technology to catch these individuals in the act at known dumping blackspots.

“This technology can send photos immediately to Gardaí and local authority staff so that we can try and apprehend the person leaving the scene. Galway County Council should also follow Dublin City Council’s lead and publish all photos of individuals caught on camera on their website. People who engage in illegal dumping have no regard for the wellbeing of their fellow citizens and should be shamed as such.”

Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Aer Arann marks half a century of linking islands to the mainland

Dara Bradley

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Current Aer Arann owners Jarlath Conneely (left) and Peter McKenna, pictured in front of their aircraft. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

When Coley Hernon of Cill Rónáin on Inis Mór wrote letters to newspaper editors in 1970, questioning why the Aran Islands couldn’t have an air service like that operating from many Scottish islands, a number of Galway businessmen responded to the challenge.

Among them were visionaries Jimmy Coen and Ralph Langan, who established a local airline, Aer Arann Islands – and on August 15, 1970 the first flight took place between Inis Mór and the Galway mainland, at Oranmore.

According to the Connacht Tribune archives, the inaugural flight of the twin-engine plane, which cost £40,000, carried ten people in all, including a number of Bórd Fáilte officials and tourism representatives.

“The weather was unkind and heavy mist and squally winds made for unpleasant conditions but nevertheless the inaugural flight went off according to schedule,” the Tribune newspaper report said at the time.

When they landed, they were greeted by members of Aran Islands Tourist Development Association at a new £20,000 airstrip at Killeaney.

That first commercial flight from Galway’s mainland to the Aran Islands will be commemorated this weekend, 50 years later.

From those humble beginnings, it’s a company that has faced turbulence during its five decades, not least in recent years when there was uncertainty over State supports (PSO, Public Service Obligation) for the service . . . but at its core has always been a sense of duty to serving islanders.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway among counties least hit by Covid

Dara Bradley

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Galway has so far suppressed the spread of Coronavirus this summer – with the latest figures showing the county is one of the least affected in the Republic of Ireland in the past fortnight.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population stands at just 3.1 in Galway in the last two weeks, compared with the national average of 18.42.

Three of the counties plunged into a partial lockdown again last Friday – Laois, Kildare and Offaly – had cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight of 86.19, 146.51 and 123.14 respectively.

The rate in Clare was 28.62, Mayo was 6.32, Roscommon was 1.55, and Tipperary was 1.25.

In the past week, Galway surpassed the 500-mark for confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March.

None of them are now in hospital, according to the data.

In the week to Sunday, there were a total of three new cases confirmed in Galway, bringing the running total to 501. The previous week, there a total of five new cases.

On Tuesday of this week, both of Galway’s two public hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula, were Covid-free, and were not treating any patients in wards or in ICU who were confirmed as having Covid-19.

Get all the latest coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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