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Terrified mum feared heroin addict shot her son during burglary



A terrified mother pushed the barrel of a gun away from her chest and ran to see if her son had been shot during an aggravated burglary at their home on a summer’s evening last year.

The 60-year-old woman was resting in her upstairs bedroom, while her 21-year-old son, who has a mild learning difficulty, was listening to music in his bedroom when an armed and masked man burst into their home at 8.50pm on August 13 last year.

Daniel Barrett (25), of 147 Castlepark, Ballybane, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last July to aggravated burglary at his neighbour’s house while armed with an imitation shotgun, contrary to Section 13 (1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, and the matter was adjourned to last week for sentence.

Garda Pauline de Paor gave evidence Barrett went to the young man’s bedroom and held the gun to his head as he lay on his bed listening to music. He stole a number of items from his bedroom.

The woman heard noise coming from her son’s bedroom and when she opened her own bedroom door, she was confronted by a masked man in the hallway carrying what looked like a double-barrel shotgun.

He stuck the gun into her shoulder and chest area. She looked past him and saw her son, face downwards on his bed. She feared he had been shot and she pushed the gun away from her chest and ran to help her son.

Barrett ran downstairs. The woman took her son into her bedroom and they barricaded themselves inside. She screamed for help out the window.

Meanwhile, an eye witness saw a man leave a laundry basket into a neighbour’s back garden before scaling the wall into the garden of No 147 Castlepark, where Barrett lived with his grandparents.

Barrett had taken €350 cash, prescription medication, a mobile phone, two Samsung tablets, a camera, two PlayStation consoles, a kitchen knife and a cushion cover, during the burglary which he had placed in the laundry basket in order to carry them away.  The cushion cover was used to carry some of the items.

The cash and two Samsung tablets were never recovered.

The woman and her son did not recognise Barrett as he had his face covered. Gardai arrested him two hours later.

The court heard Barrett had injected heroin before committing the aggravated burglary. He was still “high” when arrested and Gardai had to wait until the next morning to interview him.

Garda dePaor said the gun, while imitation, looked very realistic and it was shown to the court.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said their lives had been turned into a living nightmare that evening and they no longer felt safe in their home. It had since been turned into a fortress and a prison with alarms and security cameras.

She said she had no option but put her home up for sale, even though it held a lifetime of happy memories.

She and her late husband had raised six children there and she had so many happy memories of their lives together before his death ten years ago.

Her son expressed his fear in his statement at being attacked by Barrett’s friends in the estate and he said he no longer felt safe in his home or in his bedroom.

Barrett apologised to the woman and her son in court.

“I’m very sorry for what happened and I apologise,” he said.

Defence barrister, John Kiely SC, said his client was a heroin addict and he was under the influence of the drug when he committed this offence. He said Barrett believed the house was empty at the time.

He broke in with the intention of getting cash to feed his habit.

Judge Rory McCabe said he had heard very disturbing evidence and the victim impact statements were “very stark”.

He said he needed time to consider the evidence and he remanded Barrett in continuing custody to November 23 for sentence.


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



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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Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City



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



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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