A growing trend in the city of younger people ‘chancing’ drink driving – as well as an increase in drugs usage by drivers – is a source of major concern for Gardai.
The latest crime figures for the city indicate that more drivers in their early 20s are being arrested for drink driving, bucking a trend of previous years.
In the first nine months of this year, there were 170 arrests for drink driving in the city and Salthill areas, but according to a senior Garda, more young people in their 20s are showing up in the detections.
As well as drink offences behind the wheel, there was also a dramatic increase in the number of drivers detected with significant drug levels in their blood, for the first nine months of this year.
Nine people were detected in the city driving while under the influence of drugs from January through to September as compared to just one for the same period last year.
Overall drink driving detections in the ‘city only’ area so far this year were down by just 2% with 134 cases recorded – and down by 18% in the Salthill Garda area where there were 36 arrests.
Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Galway City Tribune, that there were still far too many people ‘chancing’ drinking and driving and they were getting caught.
“What is also of major concern to us is the change in the age profile of the drivers being arrested. There is a growing number of younger drivers – in their 20s – being arrested for drink driving. This is a source of major concern to us,” he pointed out.
“In the past, the drink driving arrests had tended to be more common among motorists of an older age profile, but this seems to have changed again and that is a really worry for us,” added Chief Supt Curley.
He also stressed that the increase in ‘drugs driving’ detections so far this year also posed a threat to road safety.
“While our main concerns in this area related to illegal drugs, we would also advise drivers on specific prescribed medication to check carefully with their GP, to ensure that this doesn’t have any side effects such as drowsiness,” said the Chief Superintendent.
Detections for the illegal use of mobile phones across Galway increased by a massive 141% so far this year with 2,360 drivers nabbed, while a further 682 motorists were caught while driving with no seatbelts on – an increase of almost 50%.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.