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Casino ‘shebeen’ operator given suspended sentence



A director of a city-based casino was given a six month suspended prison sentence at Galway District Court on Wednesday for flaunting the licencing laws, by operating a shebeen which he tried to justify by claiming that it was a private members club.

Daniel Kenny (45), with an address at La Paradiso, Dominick Street, strongly contested the State’s contention that he had wines, beer, spirits, and cider for sale without a licence at nearby Four Aces Casino on February 28 last, contrary to Section 7 of the Intoxicating Liquor (General) Act 1924.

The father of two claimed that those who paid €30 to gain entry per night to the Dominick Street premises were among the 10,000 members of this private club, and that the venue was therefore not subject to the usual restrictions on serving alcohol.

“The most salubrious clubs in Stephen’s Green don’t charge that amount,” remarked Judge Mary Fahy. And, it was ultimately the lack of proof that such a club even existed that convinced her that the defendant’s actions were indeed unlawful.

The alcohol seized by Gardaí at the shebeen

The alcohol seized by Gardaí at the shebeen

“What type of club is your client running that he doesn’t have to register or renew his licence every year?” she put to his legal counsel.

“If it were a genuine casino, it would have that type of licence, and not be allowed to have intoxicating liquor on the premises.

“It is outrageous that this man could run a place like this – a shebeen – and expect the court, or any court, to accept that he was running a bone-fide club.”

Gardaí removed three van loads of alcohol following a sting operation carried out between February 28 and into the early hours of March 1 last.

Sgt Brendan Moore told the court that he had been watching the premises for the previous few months, and had spoken to patrons who told him that a fee was charged at the door in exchange for free drink.

He said that suspicion also arose due to the long lines of taxis often seen gathering outside the premises at 7am waiting for patrons to emerge.

He had obtained a search warrant, but did not wish to execute it until he was satisfied that there were breaches inside.

He dispatched two young male undercover Gardaí, Evan McKenna and Bernard McLoughlin. They entered at about 12.30am on March 1. They were asked to produce identification at the door, and then asked to pay €30 each.

Garda McKenna filled in a form, and his colleague signed his name on the back of it, as a guest.

“At no stage did the receptionist mention that we were joining a club, she just said that I should fill out the form to get into the premises,” Garda McKenna said, although he acknowledged that this was clearly marked as an application form for membership.

“We were told we could drink all night until 6am, but that the only rule was that we could only have one bottle or drink at a time.”

Once they had obtained their second drink, they alerted Sgt Moore. He had the assistance of a dozen Gardaí in closing off Upper Dominick Street and entering the premises. There were about 10 patrons inside at the time.

Sgt Moore told the court that the list of alcohol seized took over six handwritten pages – and filled three Garda vans full of beer, wine, brandy, whiskey, and spirits.

He subsequently made enquiries with the District Court office and the Companies Office, but found that there were no registered clubs at that address.

However, a company called Midnight Entertainment Ltd was registered at the same address, and Kenny was listed as a director and secretary.

“It is not a registered club – there is no record of it anywhere… it is merely a device for distributing alcohol,” Sgt Moore said.

Alan Toal, barrister for Kenny, asked if there had been any forensic assessment of the haul, to prove that it was indeed alcohol.

“The pictures speak for themselves,” Sgt Moore replied.

However, Mr Toal disagreed, and said that there was no evidence that the alcohol was sold to the Garda witnesses. He said that the 24-hour membership fee of €30 entitled a person to “free refreshments.”

“It does not constitute a sale,” he claimed.

He referred to case law, and argued that his client was not required to register the club in the usual way. He added that if there was any doubt that the matter should be struck out.

However, Judge Fahy, and the State, disagreed. Other case law was mentioned, which seemed to contradict Mr Toal’s argument.

The Judge then went on to sentence Kenny to six months imprisonment, to which Mr Toal said he was “gobsmacked at the disproportionality of the sentence handed down for a first offence.”

Judge Fahy replied that it was a very serious matter to have had such a large amount of alcohol on the premises, without the proper licence.

Mr Toal, who had earlier been threatened with Contempt of Court, told the Judge that she had not listened to a word he had said during the lengthy hearing. And, he suggested that she was punishing his client due to his actions.

“If there is any sense that you’re punishing my client because of the way I’ve represented him, it makes it even more disproportionate,” he added.

Judge Fahy again told him that it was the scale of the operation that she had considered so serious. However, she agreed to suspend the sentence for two years.

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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