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Man had part of ear bitten off in unprovoked attack



A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in prison for biting off part of another man’s ear in an unprovoked assault in Eyre Square last year.

James Ward, 50 Gaelcarrig Park, Newcastle, appeared in custody before Galway Circuit Criminal Court, as he is already serving a total of twelve months in prison for a series of other assaults.

Ward pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting the 19-year-old man, causing him harm, at Eyre Square on March 20 last year and sentence was adjourned for the preparation of an impact statement from the victim and a probation report on the accused.

Garda Ronan Leonard told the sentence hearing a young County Clare man was sitting in Eyre Square with his girlfriend and a group of other friends at 5pm on the day in question when Ward came along and leaned in towards the victim.

Garda Leonard said the victim thought Ward wanted to say something to him and he leaned forward. Then, for no reason, Ward bit the top half of the young man’s right ear off before walking away.

Garda Leonard said the victim was in great pain and distress and without thinking he just started walking away from Eyre Square. He walked all the way out to GMIT and got on a bus which brought him home to County Clare.

In his victim impact statement, which Garda Leonard read on his behalf to the court, the victim said he was in a state of shock at the time and he just wanted to get out of Galway City as fast as he could.

He realised when he got home that the top half of his ear was missing.

He had to undergo surgery to stitch the wound, and more of the ear had to be removed where Ward’s teeth marks could be seen.

In his impact statement, the victim said he walked quickly out of Eyre Square and Galway City after the attack because he didn’t feel safe.

He said he did not want to come to court because he feared Ward or his friends would attack him.

He said he hated it when people asked him about his ear now.

“The assault has ruined my life. It has turned my life upside-down.

“I wasn’t the most confident person before this happened and I’m worse now,” he said.

Garda Leonard said Ward had four previous convictions. Two were for serious assaults, one was for a less serious assault, and one was for sending obscene and threatening text messages.

Ward, he said, was currently serving sentences totalling twelve months and was due for release in October.

Defence barrister, John Hogan, said his client pleaded guilty to this attack at the earliest opportunity.  This, he said, had spared the victim from having to give evidence and he would have known for a long time that he would not have to come to court.

He said he asked Ward why he had not proffered an apology to the victim and Ward told him he had been warned as part of his bail conditions not to make any contact with the victim.

Ward wrote a letter of apology which was handed into court. In it, he said he had been drinking and taking prescription drugs at the time of the assault.

He said he had seen his father dead when he was 13 and he had been bullied as a youngster because he had bad eyesight. He claimed he was also angry because some of his friends had committed suicide.

Mr Hogan said Ward was doing very well in prison. He was attending several educational classes and had applied to do an anger management course as well.

In his letter to Judge Rory McCabe, which was read out to the court, Ward said: “I’ve seen what prison is like and it’s not the life for me.”

Mr Hogan conceded a negative report from the probation service was of concern and his client knew he was going to get a custodial sentence for this latest assault.

“He is appalled by his own actions and he wants to apologise to the victim now,” Mr Hogan added.

Judge McCabe said alcohol, drugs and a propensity towards violence contributed to Ward inflicting this horrendous injury.

He said the accused offered no explanation for his actions and had been dishonest in his dealings with the probation service as stated in its report to the court.

The victim impact statement was “disturbing” and it related the victim’s ongoing fear of Ward, the judge noted.

He placed the offence at the top end of the scale of gravity, bearing in mind, he said, Ward’s previous convictions for violent assaults and his lack of insight into his victim’s suffering, as reported by the probation service.

“His expression that he would ‘consider’ apologising is the way the probation service reported his attitude and the service is of the view that he was not committed to apologising at all,” Judge McCabe said.

He said Ward had been untruthful in the past so he had no confidence in his attempts to convince the court that he was interested in rehabilitation.

“It’s no more than a last-minute attempt to ‘sweeten the bitter pill’.

“He’s expressed remorse now through his barrister, but only he knows if he means it; if he is sorry for what he did, or merely sorry for being caught,” Judge McCabe said.

He then sentenced Ward to three years in prison, the sentence to run concurrently to the sentences he is already serving.

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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