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Galway gold medallist boxer avoids jail sentence for drug dealing



European gold medallist boxer Gabriel Dossen was caught red-handed with more than €1,000 worth of cannabis, Galway District Court heard last week.

The 22-year-old amateur boxer was also found in possession of €645 cash, which he handed over to Garda Dave O’Connell when he told him he was going to search him for drugs.

Dossen pleaded guilty to the possession of €1,072 worth of cannabis and to a second charge of having it for sale or supply to others at Cartur Mór, Knocknacarra on March 7 last year.

The business studies student, with an address at 116 Cartur Mór, also pleaded guilty to having €20 worth of cannabis herb in his possession when stopped and searched on July 31 last year at Fr Griffin Road.

Sergeant Damien Prendergast, prosecuting, told the court Garda O’Connell was on patrol in the Cartur Mór area on March 7 last year when he observed a man acting suspiciously in the back of a taxi.  He stopped the car and spoke to the passenger who became agitated. Garda O’Connell told Dossen he was going to search him and Dossen then handed two plastic bags containing the cannabis to the garda along with €645 cash.

“He told the garda it [the cannabis] was his and he was going to divide it between his friends,” Sgt Prendergast said.

Five months later Garda Brian Loughlin stopped Dossen at Fr Griffin Road, getting a strong smell of cannabis emanating from him. Dossen handed over €20 worth of cannabis herb to Garda Loughlin during a drugs search.

Sgt Prendergast confirmed Dossen had six previous convictions, the most recent being from Athlone on March 2 last when he was fined €200 for the possession of drugs, while a second charge for possession was taken into account.

Dossen, he said, was convicted at Galway District Court on February 7 last for possession of drugs and received a 150-hour community service order in lieu of a five-month prison term for a drug dealing offence on the same date. The possession charge was taken into account, he added.

“Other than dabbling in drugs, does he do anything else, Mr Martin?” Judge Mary Fahy asked Dossen’s solicitor, John Martin.

“He’s quite a talented athlete. He won a gold medal at the European Boxing Championships, which got publicised at the time,” Mr Martin replied.

Handing a letter from Dossen’s boxing coach into court, the solicitor said all of the offences were from 18 to 12 months ago.

“It seems to have been a very major blip, but something he got caught up in.  But since then, he has started to put his life back on track, has been training hard and has achieved great things in boxing,” the solicitor said in mitigation.

“Drugs were something he got involved in and now he realises his mistake and has always held his hands up.

“I advised him there were flaws in the prosecution evidence (meaning it could have been contested) but he wanted to plead guilty to all matters from the ‘get-go’”, Mr Martin said.

He said Dossen had completed the Prime for Life course “off his own bat” and had clean toxicology results.

In reply to Judge Fahy, he said Dossen had completed 80 to 90 hours of the community service order, adding his client was doing a level 8 business course in college.

“He’s on track to compete in the Paris Olympic Games too and is on the road to a professional boxing career,” Mr Martin added.

He said the charges before the court were recorded on the front page of a Sunday newspaper. “It’s forcing him to deal with this embarrassment. He will definitely not to be seen here again,” he said.

Judge Mary Fahy said it was disappointing.

Mr Martin agreed it was disappointing, adding his client had such promise.

“But it’s disappointing that at that level of professional sports – that he would think it was okay,” the solicitor said.

Judge Fahy asked was it friends who were to blame.

Mr Martin said there had definitely been a bad influence, but his client had moved on from that.

Judge Fahy said Dossen had already reached the threshold for a prison sentence having already gotten a community service order for a previous drug dealing charge.

Imposing a six-month sentence which she suspended for two years for the drug dealing charge, on condition Dossen be of good behaviour and not reoffend during that time, the judge said that while the value of the drugs was not large it was still a serious offence.

She ordered the destruction of the cannabis and the forfeiture of the cash to the State, pending any appeal.

She took the accompanying drug possession charge into account and imposed a €100 fine on Dossen for being found in possession of the cannabis herb at Fr Griffin Road. Leave to appeal the convictions was granted along with free legal aid.


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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