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CITY TRIBUNE

Taxi driver has conviction for lewd comments overturned

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A taxi driver who made lewd comments to a female passenger has had his conviction for breaching the peace overturned on appeal to the Circuit Court.
52-year-old African father of four, Mathew Ibenye, of 118 An Sean Bhaile, Doughiska, had been charged under Section 6 of the Public Order Act with breaching the peace following a complaint from a female passenger of a lewd conversation he initiated with her about his genitals after she had hailed his taxi down outside a city pub on July 18, 2019 and asked him to take her home to Knocknacarra.
He was convicted and fined €500 by Judge Mary Fahy following a contested hearing in the District Court last November and appealed that conviction to the higher court.
Allowing the appeal last week in the Circuit Court, Judge Rory McCabe said he believed every word the woman told the court and what she said had been the truth.
However, he said he was not satisfied the evidence presented to the court (by the prosecution) fell within the definition of Section 6 of the Public Order Act that “It shall be an offence for any person in a public place to use or engage in any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace may be occasioned”. It was with regret he had to dismiss the conviction and allow the appeal.
The woman told both courts she hailed Ibenye’s taxi down outside a city pub around 2am and asked him to bring her home to Knocknacarra.
He told her he was single, was from Ghana and had been living in Ireland for eight years.
She said he suggested they go back to her home for drinks after telling her all Polish women were sexy.
The woman said she knew she was in danger when Ibenye asked her if she had alcohol back at her house before turning around in his taxi to tell her all black men were well endowed and he had “a big d..k”.
“He told me all Polish women were very beautiful and very sexy. I couldn’t believe my ears when he turned around to me and he said he had a big d..k. I knew I was in danger,” she said.
On the way to her home, the woman asked Ibenye to stop at the filling station in Lower Salthill on the pretext of getting cash from the ATM to pay the fare, but all she wanted to do was get out of the taxi, she said. She also knew there would be staff there to help her as it was a 24-hour station.
He stopped in the forecourt and she got out and took a picture of his taxi number before asking staff for help.
The Gardai were called and two arrived a few minutes later. They sent Ibenye on his way after taking his details and brought the woman home in the patrol car.
The woman denied during cross-examination by Ronan Murphy, solicitor, at the initial District Court hearing that she had initiated the turn in conversation and she also denied she made the allegations because she didn’t want to pay the fare.
Both courts heard Ibenye became “visibly hysterical” when Garda Kieran Quinn approached him on the forecourt and put the woman’s allegations about the conversation they had had in the taxi to him.
He told Gardai Quinn it was the woman who had told him she knew black men were good in bed and they had “big c..ks.”
Mr Murphy applied in the District Court to have the charge dismissed. He said the State had tendered no evidence to suggest his client had done anything to provoke a breach of the peace.
Judge Fahy thought otherwise and recorded a conviction.
At the appeal hearing last week, Brendan Browne BL, said his client had been charged under Section 6 of the Public Order Act, and yet there was no evidence before the court to suggest his client had ever breached the peace or had been reckless as to whether a breach of the peace had occurred.
Mr Browne said his client did not use threatening, abusive or insulting language and contended the proper mode for prosecution in these type of cases would have been under the 1961 Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicle) Act, or under the 2015 Taxi Regulations.
He said there was no evidence his client’s intention was to provoke a breach of the peace.
“If a taxi driver starts talking about his genitals, that might cause a reaction which might lead to a breach of the peace. A vehicle for hire is defined as a public place,” State solicitor William Kennedy, prosecuting, suggested.
Judge McCabe held with Mr Browne and granted the appeal.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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