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Connacht Tribune

Victim wanted paedophile named to protect others

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A 70-year-old paedophile has been spared a prison sentence, after his victim said she wanted him identified rather than jailed so that other children can be protected from him.

Gerry Kelly, from Beech Lawn, Ballinasloe, received a three-year suspended prison sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

He has also been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register indefinitely.

Kelly had denied six sample charges of indecently assaulting a then vulnerable teenage girl, in circumstances which included oral rape, on dates between January 7, 1985 and January 6, 1986, when the matter first came before the court for trial last February.

A jury was empanelled but shortly before the trial was due to start, Kelly pleaded guilty to one charge of indecently assaulting the girl on dates between November 7, 1985 and January 6, 1986.

Prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke withdrew the remaining five charges and said the matter could be dealt with on a full facts basis.

Sentence was adjourned to last Thursday for Kelly’s defence team to obtain a psychological report under the Free Legal Aid Scheme.

Detective Adrian Fehily, Ballinasloe Garda Station, told the sentence hearing other totally separate matters were being investigated when these offences came to light.

He said the abuse occurred when the vulnerable girl was allowed to attend nightclubs at a very young age.

Kelly was 37 and married when he met the girl in 1985, while working as a bouncer at the East County Hotel nightclub.

He had previously worked in maintenance at Portiuncula Hospital before becoming a woodwork instructor for FAS. He retired from that job in 2014.

Garda Fehily said Kelly befriended the girl, often driving her home when the nightclub finished.

The girl began to trust and confide in him, telling him all her troubles. He comforted her, gave her advice and even offered to bring her to see a psychiatrist.

Kelly began to drive her to isolated areas outside Ballinasloe where he would sexually abuse her.

“No threats or coercion were used and at the time, she believed it was a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

“Looking back now, she sees it as something different and she wants him to acknowledge what he did was wrong,” Garda Fehily said.

He said Kelly’s guilty plea had been important to the complainant, who did not wish to be in court, and she hoped the sentence hearing would now bring some closure and she could get on with her life.

“She had a fear of the court process and feared having to appear in court.

“Her motivation was never for him to get a custodial sentence.  Her motivation has always been to protect other children from him and that he understand the seriousness of what he did.

“Things are improving for her now with the help of her family and closure will come today, hopefully,” Garda Fehily said.

He said Kelly was now aged 70 and had no previous convictions.

Paul Flannery SC, defending, said Kelly was “a valued member of society all through his life” and he had thought the girl was older at the time.

He said it was very fair of the complainant to indicate she had no interest in seeing Kelly go to prison.

A letter of apology from Kelly to the complainant was read into evidence.

Kelly wrote he wanted to apologise for the hurt he caused her, adding he hoped his guilty plea spared her more upset and anguish.

“For whatever it’s worth, I would like you to know I’m truly sorry,” his letter read.

Ms Silke confirmed the woman wanted Kelly identified so long as she was not identified.

Judge Rory McCabe said the abuse had a significant impact on the complainant, being exploited when she was a troubled and vulnerable child.

“He used her for his own sexual gratification.  That she trusted and confided in him makes this even more serious.  Her attitude, as evidenced in her victim impact statement, is notable.

“She acts with dignity and charity, in stark contrast to Kelly’s callous and deceitful behaviour towards her,” the judge said.

He placed the offences in the mid-range on the scale of gravity, stating that the headline sentence was five years.

The judge said he had to take mitigating factors into account before deciding on the appropriate sentence and those were: Kelly’s plea of guilty, albeit it only came after a jury had been picked and ready to go to trial, and that, he said, highlighted the charitable approach of the complainant while, in contract, casting a shadow on Kelly’s attitude.

“He says he’s sorry in the letter and he co-operated with the investigation but in so far as that goes, he didn’t admit his guilt until the very last minute,” the judge observed.

He said that in cases such as this an immediate custodial sentence would be warranted and inevitable but given the complainant’s Christian attitude, he had reluctantly been persuaded to impose a three-year suspended sentence instead.

“He is a sex offender and is now on the Sex Offender’s Register and that in itself is punishment,” the judge observed, before binding Kelly to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the next three years.

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham

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Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.

As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.

The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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