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Addict burglar threatens to cut children’s throats



Galway Courthouse

A heroin-addicted burglar threatened to cut a man’s throat after he was caught red-handed trying to rob the man’s business premises in Liosban Industrial Estate.

Patrick ‘Pa’ Sweeney (27), of 173 Castlepark, Ballybane, pleaded guilty to entering John Butler’s Sports Injury Clinic at Unit 7, Kilkerrin Park, Liosban, as a trespasser on February 11 last, but he denied producing a scissors with intent to intimidate or cause serious injury during the course of the burglary on the same occasion.

Mr Butler told Galway District Court that he was treating a client in his clinic at 5.20pm when he noticed a shadow moving around in the reception area.  He knew the receptionist had finished for the day and he could see the shadow go in behind the reception desk.

He went to check and found Sweeney down on his knees inside reception.

When asked what he was doing there, Sweeney claimed he had come in to get a rub.

He went to run for the door and kept insisting Mr Butler was assaulting him and would not let him leave.

Sweeney eventually went out and Mr Butler said he followed him.  A tussle ensued outside.  Mr Butler said Sweeney fell back against the wall and then pulled a scissors from his belt.

“He took to screaming and roaring and said he would cut my throat and my children’s throats,” Mr Butler said.

Defence solicitor, Louise Gallagher said that when Mr Butler disturbed her client that evening, he had told him to sit down on a chair while he called the Gardai and that he had shouted at someone else to call the Gardai for him.

Mr Butler confirmed he had asked the client in the clinic, who was too afraid, he said, to come out of the room and who had not returned to his premises since, to call the Gardai.

“When I came out he had a scissors left on the counter.  He put it back into the belt on his trousers and he told me he would cut my throat and the throats of everybody I knew. He took his scissors away with him,” Mr Butler explained during cross-examination.

Mr Keith Forde told the court he ran a business next-door to Mr Butler’s.  He said he came out of his premises when he heard roaring and shouting outside.

By the time he came around the side of his van to render assistance to Mr Butler, Sweeney, he said, was cycling away.  He said Sweeney was shouting back that he would come back and get Mr Butler and slit his throat.

Sweeney told the court he was sick from heroin at the time and admitted he had gone into the premises to steal whatever he could to feed his habit.

“I was in fear of my life of this man,” he said, pointing at Mr Butler.

“I went in there to steal whatever I could,” he added.

“Anything that wasn’t nailed down,” Judge Fahy said.

Sweeney denied having a scissors on him.

He said he had to force his way out of the premises and pulled his zip down to get away from Mr Butler.  He said he never carried a weapon in his life and would never carry one.

“I was in his premises to steal but I never threatened him with a scissors,” Sweeney persisted.

Judge Fahy said she believed Mr Butler’s evidence and she convicted Sweeney.

She said he had been before the courts time and time again over the years and his offending was getting more and more serious.

Inspector Derek Gannon said Sweeney had 64 previous convictions and was currently serving an 11-month sentence, for handling stolen property.

Judge Fahy said Sweeney had thought there was no one around when he went in to burgle the premises and then he turned nasty when he was confronted by the owner and issued serious threats.

She sentenced him to six months for the burglary and a further six months for producing the scissors to intimidate Mr Butler, both sentences to run consecutively to each other and to the 11-month sentence Sweeney is currently serving.  Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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