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Judge bursts champagne thief’s bubble



A shoplifter with a taste for very expensive champagne will not be sampling the bubbly anytime soon, after he received a five-month sentence at Galway District Court.

Colm Keegan (52), with former addresses at 19 St Patrick’s Avenue, Wicklow town and Woodquay Hostel, Galway, pleaded guilty to stealing two bottles of Cristal champagne – worth €220 a bottle – from McCambridge’s, Shop Street, on two separate occasions on February 29 last.

Keegan also pleaded guilty to stealing assorted bottles of vodka, whiskey and brandy worth €568 from Dunnes Stores, Edward Square, on March 25 last year, and to stealing a pair of Ray-Ban sun glasses worth €165, from Brown Thomas on February 8 last.

He pleaded guilty also to the theft of a €117 bottle of perfume from Debenham’s on January 27 last year, along with the theft of more alcohol from Nestor’s Supervalu, Fr Griffin Road, and from Dunnes Stores again on March 27 last year.

Reading down through the plethora of theft charges, Judge Mary Fahy remarked Keegan had very expensive tastes when she came to the charges relating to the theft of the champagne from McCambridge’s and the sunglasses from BT.

“I see you stole Cristal champagne. Your tastes are very expensive. That’s commonly bought by rappers like Jay Z, who throw it all about the place,” the judge joked.

Defence solicitor, Adrian MacLynn corrected Judge Fahy’s pronunciation of “Cristal”.

The judge quickly reeled him in, telling the solicitor her pronunciation was correct.

“It’s Cristal and it’s €220 a bottle,” she told him.

Some of the female solicitors, including Olivia Traynor and Valerie Corcoran, vigorously nodded in agreement with Judge Fahy’s pronunciation of the expensive champagne brand.

The judge also noted Keegan had stolen a pair of Ray-Bans from Brown Thomas.

“You do have expensive tastes, don’t you?,” she persisted.

He told her he stole the items to sell them on for drink.

Mr MacLynn said his client had a alcohol problem which was at the root of all his offending and he knew he was going to get a custodial sentence.

Inspector Brendan Carroll said Keegan had 15 previous convictions, including ones for thefts.  He had received a suspended six-month sentence for another theft in a Dublin court in February.

Judge Fahy said some of the Galway offences had occurred while Keegan was on bail and she sentenced him to a total of five months for the two thefts from McCambridge’s, consecutive to the four-month sentence he is currently serving.

She imposed two further, five and one-month consecutive sentences for some of the remaining charges which she suspended for two years on condition Keegan attend a rehabilitation programme for his alcohol addiction, be of good behaviour and stay out of Galway city and county for two years.

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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