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Man denies attack in Eyre Square was racially motivated



A man who followed and shouted abuse at a Polish man before punching him in the head, has denied the attack was racially motivated.

Ciaran Savage (22), from 20 Wellpark Grove, apologised at Galway District Court to the Polish man, who said he had been living and working in Galway for the last 13 years without incident.

Garda James Kavanagh said Savage approached the Polish man and his male Irish friend as they left Halo nightclub in the early hours of June 19, 2016. He followed them down Mary Street and became abusive when he realised they did not want to speak to him.

Garda Kavanagh said Savage noticed one of the men was not Irish and he began to shout abuse and try to hit him as all three walked along Eglinton Street, heading towards Eyre Square.

Passers-by intervened to help the Irish man in his efforts to keep Savage away from the Polish man, but to no avail.

Savage then came up behind the Polish man in Eyre Square and punched him into the side of the head before running away.

The Polish man and his friend decided to go to Galway Garda Station to make a complaint, but as they were walking down Shop Street, Savage again approached them and kicked the Irish man in the hip.

Savage pleaded guilty in court to two assault charges.

The court heard Savage had six previous convictions. Four were for Public Order offences, one was for possession of drugs, while the sixth was for possession of a knife.

He was convicted of the latter offence in 2014 and was fined €200 at the time.

Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin said his client’s offending behaviour in the past was due to alcohol abuse. He said Savage had since addressed that issue with the help of the probation service and no longer drank.

The Polish man told the court Savage had followed him because he was not Irish and had shouted abuse at him because he was not Irish.

Judge Fahy asked the man if he thought the assault was racially motivated.

The man nodded. “I’m Polish. I’m here 13 years and this was the first time I was approached like this,” he said.

Savage apologised to the man for his behaviour on the night and claimed it was out of character.

“I work with Polish people and I’ve never had an issue with people from other countries. For me to call you names because you come from another country? That is out of character for me,” Savage said.

He told Judge Fahy he no longer went out drinking because the probation service had helped him realise drink did not suit him and he just couldn’t do that anymore.

In reply to Judge Fahy, the Polish man declined an offer of compensation and said he would prefer any compensation to go to a charity.

The judge directed Savage pay €800 into court and she would donate it to Our Lady’s Boys’ Club, which takes boys on supervised holidays.

The judge asked the Polish man if he accepted Savage’s apology or was he still concerned about his attitude.

The man said he had become very concerned when he heard just moments before that Savage had a previous conviction for carrying a knife.

“He ran at me and punched me from behind that night. It could have been a knife, so for that reason I’m very worried,” the man replied.

Judge Fahy said the Polish man’s disappointment – at being targeted after being in Ireland for so many years – was really coming across to the court.

She warned Savage he was possibly looking at a custodial sentence but it might be suspended if he paid the compensation and be of good behaviour.

She remanded him on continuing bail to July for payment of €800 and ordered him to stay away from the men.


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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