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Grandmother is jailed for campaign of harassment



A 62-year-old grandmother who posted soiled underwear to a couple she had been harassing over a two-year period, has been jailed for three years with the final two years suspended.

Goretti O’Dowd, of 3 Parkmore Estate, Tuam, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last May to three charges of harassment involving two people at various locations in the town, on various dates between May, 2012 , and October, 2014.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy, said at the time that the plea was acceptable on the basis that facts in two other harassment charges involving a third person, were admitted.

Sentence was adjourned on a number of occasions in the interim as defence barrister, Conal McCarthy explained he needed time to obtain a comprehensive psychiatric report on his client, whom he said, had a long history of mental health issues and was under the care or the psychiatric services.

Garda David Comer gave evidence at the sentence hearing that a woman attended Tuam Garda Station on May 15, 2012 and made a complaint she and her family were being harassed by O’Dowd on an ongoing basis for the previous two years.

Garda Comer said he obtained a warrant and searched O’Dowd’s house in Parkmore on June 28, 2013, where he found a number of writing pads, which contained writing paper very similar to that used in abusive letters sent to the injured parties.

O’Dowd was detained for questioning following the search but she made no admissions.

Garda Comer said the harassment continued and further statements of complaint were taken from the victims.

A file was prepared for the DPP and after that O’Dowd was arrested and charged with harassment on December 9, 2014.

Garda Comer confirmed all harassment stopped once criminal proceedings were brought against O’Dowd.

He explained O’Dowd had been besetting the injured parties and their children on an ongoing basis and she regularly sat in her car outside their home.

They had recorded 70 different incidents of harassment over the two years.

Garda Comer said O’Dowd would mock the victims in public and make insulting and upsetting comments about them to their children.  She regularly made rude hand gestures towards them and made sexual gestures towards them in public on several occasions.

Garda Comer said he could not establish any reason why O’Dowd was doing this and when arrested she refused to give an explanation.

“Maybe it’s linked to incidents that took place in the late 2000’s but I’m not sure,” he told the court.

At their request, Garda Comer read both victims’ impact statements into evidence.

In his statement, the man said O’Dowd had made his life a living hell and he didn’t know how a mother/woman would be so cruel as she had terrified the children who woke up at night crying.

He said he could not remember when his partner had a full night’s sleep as she was constantly in fear of O’Dowd coming into their home.

He said they had been subjected to a tirade of filthy abuse and O’Dowd had even posted filthy underwear to their home.

He said he could not go out in comfort and was in constant fear for his partner and the children when he was gone.

“All we want is to be happy and have our lives back.  Please give us our lives back and the lives of our children,” his statement concluded.

In her impact statement, his partner said she hoped justice would be served immediately because due to the persecution, harassment and bullying O’Dowd had subjected her to over the years, she had forgotten what it was like to have a night’s sleep.

“I’m living in fear morning, noon and night.  My children suffer the same torture and persecution.  I’m afraid returning home because Goretti O’Dowd might be outside hurling abuse and foul language at us.  I do not feel safe in my own home,” she said.

Mr Fahy said O’Dowd had two previous convictions.

She had been convicted of making a hoax phone call at Tuam District Court on December 15, 2006, for which she received a one-month suspended sentence.

Then, on February 22, 2009, she was convicted of harassment and received a three-month suspended sentence for that on condition she stay away from a named family in Tuam.  The date of the harassment offence, he added, was August 29, 2006.

Mr Fahy said it was noteworthy that the latest harassment stopped once criminal proceedings commenced and he asked Garda Comer if he believed O’Dowd had learnt her lesson.

Garda Comer said he believed she would continue to harass if she did not receive some kind of medical assistance.

Mr McCarthy said his client had two grown-up children and two grandchildren and had worked in catering in a local factory for most of her life.

The court was told O’Dowd had been getting psychiatric support in the past but had fallen away from availing of the service.

Judge Rory McCabe said the continuous, prolonged nature of the harassment placed it at the high side on the scale of gravity.

The harassment took many forms, he said, and its impact on the victims was severe.

Referring to her psychiatric report, Judge McCabe said it concluded the accused had “a very complex and indeterminable psychiatric profile” and there was no doubt she needed help.

He said that while he was being told the accused was currently receiving therapy there was no guarantee she would continue to receive it once she stepped outside the doors of the courthouse.

“It seems to me she will not concentrate her attentions on this unless she’s placed in ‘a controlled environment’ and there is a very real risk of recidivism and a questionable hope of rehabilitation if she is not,” Judge McCabe said.

He sentenced O’Dowd to three years in prison with the final two years suspended for five years.

He directed she have no contact with her victims or any members of the victims’ families and he also directed she be assessed and given the appropriate treatment and follow-up care while in prison.

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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