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Father sent to prison for terrorising his ex-partner and children



A man has been sentenced to five months in prison for trespassing at his ex-partner’s home and putting her and her children in fear.

The 29-year-old, who may not be named in order to protect the identity of the woman and children, pleaded guilty before Galway District Court this week to breaching a Safety Order by entering the woman’s home on May 7 last year.

Judge Mary Fahy became incensed when told the man had contacted his ex-partner on two occasions since then, to try and get her to drop the charge against him.

The Safety Order had been granted by the Family Court last year after the couple split up and he was to stay away from the woman and have no contact with her or her home.

The woman told the court this week that she didn’t know how the man got into her home or why he was there.  She said she and her children heard noise upstairs when they returned to their home around 11.15pm on the night in question.

The woman said she had moved house in order to get away from her ex-partner and had thought he didn’t know where she lived.  She explained he had regular access to the children through a family member and she never had to have any contact with him.

She said she still didn’t know how he found out where she lived and since this incident both she and her children were in fear he would return.

“I don’t know how he got in.  I don’t know why he was there and I’m afraid going into my house every evening,” she said.

Judge Fahy noted that the woman’s enjoyment of her own home had been impacted and she was still afraid of the man.

“The kids don’t like going upstairs alone.  We were split up for five months at the time and I still don’t know how he got into the house,”  the woman said.

Judge Fahy asked the man why he had gone into the woman’s house, knowing there was a Safety Order in place.

“It was the day of my child’s Holy Communion,” he replied.

Judge Fahy warned the man not to bring his child’s Holy Communion into this.

“That just shows what type of person you are.  You took a bench warrant in January when you didn’t show up for this and you dragged this on since then and then, when I ask you a simple question, why were you there, you bring your young child into this,” the judge said to him.

The judge said that if she sent the man to prison he would not be able to pay maintenance.

The woman said she believed the man had no remorse and she said he had contacted her on several occasions since telling her to drop the charge.

Judge Fahy said that was very serious and amounted to the man perverting the course of justice by asking the woman to drop the charge.

“My hands are tied now,” she warned.

Defence solicitor, Colin Lynch asked Judge Fahy to suspend any sentence she might impose to put his client to the test.

Judge Fahy said the man had contacted the woman twice to drop the charge, knowing it was wrong to do so and she sentenced him to five months in prison for breaching the Safety Order.

She said the man needed to realise his behaviour was absolutely appalling and when she had given him a chance to explain himself, he had brought his child’s Communion into it.

“It’s very likely this lady will have to move house again,” the judge added.

Leave to appeal the sentence was granted on condition the accused have no contact with the complainant or her property.


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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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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