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Connacht Tribune

Women admit vicious nightclub assault

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A number of young women involved in a serious assault at a Tuam nightclub, during which their victims were punched in the face and kicked on the floor, had their cases adjourned to the end of the year after probation reports were presented to the local court.

One of the three defendants is a Tuam childcare worker and when the case initially came before the court back in April, the sitting judge imposed a temporary ban on press reporting of her case because she feared it might impact on her employment.

Roxanne McHugh was one of three women pleading guilty to assaults on other women. The case was heard at a special sitting of Tuam Court on Monday, April 23, and Judge Deirdre Gearty agreed with the request and banned any reporting of the case until a probation report could be compiled and sentencing was imposed.

Those probation reports were presented to Judge James Faughnan at last week’s sitting of Tuam District Court and he lifted reporting restrictions in the case.

At the special sitting in April, it was heard how the three women were involves in a series of assaults on three other young women. The victims told the Judge that the attacks had left them fearful about going out in their own home town.

Roxanne McHugh with an address of Apartment 1, Fairgreen Heights, Tuam, Chloe McHugh Apartment 2, Fairgreen Heights and Rebecca Flesk, 2 Fairgreen Heights, were all charged with assault.

Rebecca Flesk pleaded guilty to assault on Veronica Brady, Lea Kelly and Niamh Collins in Geoghegan’s Nightclub, High Street, Tuam, on September 18, 2016.

Chloe McHugh pleaded guilty to assaulting Veronica Brady on the same night and a charge of assaulting Lea Kelly was withdrawn.

Roxanne McHugh pleaded guilty to assaulting Veronica Brady and a charge of assaulting Lea Kelly was withdrawn.

The defence barrister said Roxanne McHugh was a childcare worker, Chloe McHugh was on disability and Rebecca Flesk was a hairdresser.

Garda Emma Conneely was the investigating Garda and she gave evidence of being on duty on the particular night when she received a call from Niamh Collins.

She met her outside the club and she was in a distressed stated. Her nose looked broken and she was bleeding. She said she had been punched in the face by Rebecca Flesk.

She added that Flesk was in the company of the other two defendants at the time. Garda Conneely advised the victim to get medical attention and went inside the club to locate the defendants.

She spoke to Flesk and Roxanne McHugh, whom she said did most of the talking.

The Gardaí then went to Dublin Road and spoke to witness Deborah Brady. They heard that Veronica Brady was pushed to the dance floor in Geoghegan’s and punched and kicked. Lea Kelly’s mouth was bleeding as a result of Flesk punching her in the face, the Gardaí were told.

After taking details the Gardaí returned to High Street at where they found Chloe McHugh sitting on the footpath.

The Gardaí collected CCTV footage and medical reports on the victims and these reports were handed in to the Judge.

The court heard that the mother of two of the defendants, Colette McHugh, sent messages to a number of the injured parties and members of their families and this was brought to the attention of the Gardaí, who visited Colette McHugh, when she agreed she wouldn’t sent any more texts.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars

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Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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