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Fatal car crash driver wasn’t on his phone



Noirin and Liam Feeney, parents of Leah Feeney, with a photograph of their daughter during a protest after her death, calling for footpath to be constructed along where she was killed in Ros A Mhíl. Photo: Andrew Downes.

The inquiry into the death of a 15 year old pedestrian, who received fatal head injuries in an accident two years ago, was brought to a close after her family were presented with evidence to show that the driver of the car was not using his mobile phone at the time.

The Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, considered this as sufficient to bring the inquiry to a conclusion, more than two years after the death of Leah Feeney, of Clynagh, Carraroe.

“It is not up to the Coroner to engage in criminal or civil investigations, but in the interests of transparency and establishing the truth, this is what I’ve done,” he said.

“I’m quite happy that Mr Seoige was not engaged in any activity on his telephone at the time of the accident.”

Ms Feeney had been walking along the road near Rossaveal Pier with a friend at twilight on May 1 2013, when she was struck by a car.

Her family did not wish the hearing to be concluded until there was evidence presented to prove that the driver, Colm Seoige (22), was not handling his mobile phone at the time.

Specifically, they wanted to hear from to the Garda who had had handled his device in the aftermath of the accident.

“This is to allay any fears or suspicions by the family that he had been engaged on the telephone at the time of the accident,” Dr MacLoughlin explained.

He had previously advised the family’s legal representative that an individual’s phone records were “highly guarded and protected by legislation.” And, for fear of trespassing on Section 30 of the Coroner’s Act 1962, which deals with questions of civil or criminal liability being entered into, he would only permit the Garda to confirm that he had looked at the telephone records, and divulge whether or not there was any activity on the phone at the time of the accident.

Detective Garda Barry Walsh gave evidence to say that, that although the software he was using was incompatible with the Nokia Lumia mobile phone he had received, he had applied for and received a hard copy of Mr Seoige’s phone records.

“These will show internet activity, messages sent and received, and calls received and dialled – there is no way of editing the call records, anything that happens is on the call records,” he advised the Inquiry.

“At the time of the accident, there was no traffic recorded on the mobile device. The last text message was sent at 21.38, the accident was at 21.43.”

On September 18, the Inquest heard that Mr Seoige was heading to visit his girlfriend in Carraroe, but that he had not seen Leah Feeney walking along the roadside as a car coming towards him had blinded him with its headlights.

He said that he had slowed down, as his visibility was impaired, but that he was not blinded altogether until the car was right in front of him. By this stage, however, it was too late, and he had hit Leah. He attempted to swerve right to avoid her, but failed, and she was thrown forward along the ditch.

In concluding the Inquest at Galway Courthouse on Friday, Dr MacLoughlin reiterated to Leah’s parents that their daughter’s injuries had been so severe that she would not have suffered any pain.

”To lose a child in these circumstances was a terrible tragedy,” he said. “I’m sure that the pain is with you every minute of the day.”

For more on this story, see the Connacht Tribune.

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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