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Top cop says alcohol and drugs a factor in nearly all street crime

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Alcohol and drugs is a factor in nearly all public order offences and assaults committed in the city, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley, confirmed the correlation between alcohol and drugs misuse, and public order offences and assaults.

He warned that over the coming weeks of Christmas, with parties in full swing and alcohol flowing, his members will have to deal with many more assaults and public order offences.

In his report to the Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Chief Supt Curley said the number of public order offences in the city in the first 10 months of the year had increased by 5%.

Public order was up by 26 incidents to 560, which equated to 56 for every month since January. There was one racially-motivated public order offence during that period, compared with three in the first 10 months of 2015. That represented a 67% reduction.

It is only in recent reports that Galway Garda have provided information about racially-motivated public order offences, at the behest of members.

Meanwhile, the number of assaults causing harm has fallen by 37% in the first 10 months of the year. During that period, some 46 incidents were reported to Gardaí, compared with 73 for the corresponding period last year.

Minor assaults had also fallen in that time – they were down by 13%, from 180 to 157.

Fianna Fáil City Councillor, Peter Keane, a solicitor, said he saw the impact drink was having on society through his day job.  Cllr Keane said every case involving public order and assaults before the District Court in Galway related to alcohol consumption. He said being drunk and over consumption of alcohol was nearly always proffered as an excuse by defending solicitors in court cases.

Galway City Councillor Pádraig Conneely said the city was paying ‘lip service’ to alcohol. The main attraction at the Christmas Market, he said, was the beer tent; alcohol is served at civic receptions at City Hall; and beer is the main attraction at Connacht Rugby games.

Meanwhile, Maireád Farrell (SF) expressed concern at the increase in domestic violence incidents.

The JPC heard how alcohol was a factor in many domestic incidents.

There was a 31% increase in breaches of barring orders, safety orders and protection orders in the first 10 months of the year.  That was up by 11 to 46. There were 10 more domestic incidents where the offence isn’t disclosed, up 7% to 145.

Rapes were up by 30%, from 10 to 13; and non-aggravated sexual assaults were up by 21% from 19 to 23.

Many of the sexual offences were historic, and the alleged crimes were perpetrated years and decades ago, said Chief Supt Curley who confirmed Gardaí were following definite lines of inquiry in relation to any fresh sexual assault cases.

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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