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Jail for dirty protestor in garda station cell



A man who smeared his own excrement all over himself and all over a cell at Galway Garda Station, will be spending Christmas in prison – and all of next year too.

John Tomkins (45), c/o the Fairgreen Hostel, was brought in custody before Galway District Court last week, having served seven days in prison for contempt of court, after he subjected Judge Mary Fahy, Gardaí and a member of the Press to a tirade of abuse and insults the preceding Wednesday.

Tomkins had already been in custody since last June on charges involving criminal damage, theft and deception.

He denied at the initial hearing a fortnight ago that he had induced two women to lodge €200 and €210 respectively into his bank account on dates between January 28 and 30 last for tickets to AC/DC concerts which the women never received.

He also denied handling the respective amounts of money, knowing they were stolen and to giving false and misleading information regarding the transactions to Garda Paul McNulty at Galway Garda Station on April 18 last.

Dublin native Tomkins also denied damaging a car door at Lurgan Park, Murrough, on June 26 last, and with stealing a suitcase full of men’s clothing worth €300, CDs and a pair of men’s boots worth €40 from the car on the same date.

He also denied breaching the peace, by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour in a public place in relation to the same incident. He further denied damaging the walls and door of a holding cell at Galway Garda Station on June 26, by smearing them with his own excrement.

Sentences totalling 14 months were imposed on all charges this week.

Tomkins fired his solicitor, Gearoid Geraghty, and decided to represent himself before his case was initially heard last Wednesday week. He repeatedly interrupted witnesses giving their evidence and launched scathing verbal attacks on Garda witnesses, the Press and Judge Fahy.

The court had heard evidence from two women who had been duped into paying money into Tomkins’ bank account for non-existent concert tickets via the Done Deal website.

Garda also gave evidence relating to the systematic theft of items from parked cars in Lurgan Park, Renmore last June and of how Tomkins was “caught red handed” with some of the stolen items.

They also gave evidence of arresting him on June 26 last in connection with the charges, of interviewing him, and of how he held a dirty protest in his cell afterwards, by smearing his own excrement over the walls and on himself.

It had cost the taxpayer €500 to have the cell cleaned and sanitised afterwards.

The court heard Tomkins had threatened to kill a Garda while being questioned about the thefts from cars and the Done Deal deception charges.

After a tirade of abuse, Tomkins was held in contempt by Judge Fahy and sent back to prison for seven days to purge his guilt.

A more contrite Tomkins appeared back before the court this week and even though he warned Judge Fahy he would not be apologising to her for his behaviour the preceding week, he did allow Mr Geraghty to represent him and address the court on his behalf.

Mr Geraghty said Tomkins was now changing his plea to guilty in relation to smearing his excrement on the prison cell walls.  All of the other charges, he said, had been dealt with the week before when he himself was not present.

Mr Geraghty said his client’s instructions to him were that the reason he indulged in this behaviour was that he had been put under severe duress by members of the Gardai.

“He says he was woken every 15 minutes during the night and lights and fans were put on in the Station.

“He was threatened with violence and he ‘cracked’ and he says that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were interfered with,” Mr Geraghty said.

Insp Kevin Gately strenuously denied any wrongdoing by Gardai.  He said Gardai are obliged to check on prisoners on a regular basis and the action taken by Tomkins on the night – when he smeared the cell with excrement – necessitated the putting on of fans all over the Station because there had been a nauseating smell throughout.

This behaviour, he said, caused a health and safety issue for Gardai working in the building.  He said Gardai also had a duty of care to check on Tomkins regularly in his cell to ensure he was safe and well and this incident had happened in between those regular checks.

Judge Fahy agreed this behaviour had caused a serious health and safety issue for Gardai who had to deal with Tomkins after the incident and for people who would be placed in that call afterwards.

Insp Gately said Tomkins had 20 previous convictions going back to 2006, for robberies, assaults, drug dealing, fraud, trespass, thefts, obstruction and resisting arrests.

Judge Fahy said Tomkins was now pleading to damaging the cell and there was no excuse for his behaviour.

“He put himself and Gardai at risk of ill-health and he’s shaking his head.  He doesn’t see. He doesn’t have any concept of how disgusting it would be for anyone having to work in those conditions,” Judge Fahy said.

She sentenced him to six months in prison for damaging the cell and imposed a consecutive six-month sentence on him for one of the Done Deal charges.

She imposed a consecutive one-month sentence on him for handling items stolen from a car at Lurgan Park, while a further consecutive one- month sentence was imposed on him for breaching the peace in connection with that incident.

Concurrent one-month sentences were imposed on the remaining charges.

Judge Fahy agreed to backdate the sentences to July 3 last, giving Tomkins credit for time already spent in prison in relation to the charges.

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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