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Heroin dealer caught red-handed by Gardaí in patrol car



A chronic heroin addict and dealer who smokes the drug every day he can afford to, was caught red-handed cycling his bike with six ‘deals’ of heroin held tightly in his fist.

On another occasion, Alan Murphy (45), of 43 St James Crescent, Mervue, flushed the drug away when Gardaí called to his home to carry out a drugs search.

Murphy denied having the heroin for sale or supply to others at Dublin Road, Galway on September 9, 2017.

He also denied a separate charge of obstructing Gardaí from the Divisional Drugs Unit who called to his home in Mervue to carry out a drugs search on February 14 last year.

Garda PJ Noone gave evidence at the contested hearing at Galway District Court last week that he was driving a patrol car, accompanied by Sergeant Peter McGuinness and Garda Sheena Gill, when they noticed Murphy on a bicycle stopped at traffic lights near the Bon Secours Hospital.

He said Murphy was a known heroin user and he let down the driver’s window while they were stopped at a red light to speak to him.

Garda Noone said he noticed Murphy was holding something tightly in his clenched fist. He asked him to open his fist and Murphy complied revealing six small bags of heroin ‘deals’.

Murphy told Gardaí the drugs were for his own use.  He said he had just bought them for €160 from a person five minutes before he was stopped.

Defence solicitor, Sean Acton, said the Gardaí in the car knew his client well and he had made no attempt to cycle away and had handed over what he had in his fist.

“He is a known, chronic drug-user and he’s making no bones about that and unfortunately, he is still a user,” Mr Acton said of his client.

Garda Noone said he believed Murphy was a heroin dealer in the Mervue area.  Noting Murphy had been cycling in the opposite direction from where he lived, he said it was his opinion that Murphy was holding drugs in his fist as he cycled around selling the drug.

“Six bags is too much heroin for one person’s use.  A normal user would use one bag per day but having six bags is too much,” Garda Noone added.

Mr Acton said Murphy bought the heroin in bulk for €160 as it worked out cheaper that way and he smoked a bag a day.

He said Murphy was getting €191 dole every week and spent it on heroin.

Murphy told Judge Mary Fahy he had been smoking heroin “on and off” for the last 15 years or so. He said the six bags he had just bought would last him the week and were for himself.

He said he smoked the heroin at home and was on the way to the shop to buy cigarettes at the time the Gardai stopped him.

“I smoke a bag of heroin a day if I have the money for it. A bag costs €25,” Murphy said from the witness box.

In a separate incident, which occurred on January 15 last year, Garda PJ Noone said he went with the same colleagues to carry out a drugs search at Murphy’s home in Mervue. He knocked on the door and after a while Murphy came down stairs and opened the sitting room window.

Garda Noone said he told him he had a warrant to search the house.  He said Murphy pushed him back from the window and ran out of the room.

Garda Noone and Garda Gill climbed in the window and ran upstairs to Murphy’s bedroom. He wasn’t there.

Then they heard a toilet flushing downstairs and when they went down, they saw Murphy coming out of the toilet.

Garda Noone said he believed Murphy had flushed drugs down the toilet.  They were never recovered.

Judge Mary Fahy convicted Murphy of both offences.

She said one would always have sympathy for an addict, but people who were dealing drugs were rendering other people addicts.

“There is no reason why he can’t rehabilitate. There’s no reason for him to carry on in this trade, peddling death,” Judge Fahy said.

She sentenced Murphy to six months in prison for having the heroin for sale to others and she imposed a consecutive five-month term for obstructing Gardai during the drugs search at his home.  Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.


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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