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Man held broken glass to throat of woman he met online



A man held a broken pint glass to the throat of a woman he had recently met through an online dating site and set fire to her sitting room furniture and carpet following an argument at her home.

Michael Cubbard (40), 3 Connolly Terrace, Bohermore, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last April to assaulting the woman, causing her harm at her home near Ballinasloe on January 4 last year.

He also pleaded guilty to causing €2,345 worth of criminal damage to the woman’s  furniture, clothing, personal effects and mobile phone on the same date.

Sentence was adjourned so that Gardaí could take a victim impact statement from the woman and for a probation report to be prepared in relation to Cubbard.

Garda Brian Dolly gave evidence at the sentence hearing last week that the woman started a relationship with Cubbard a few weeks before the assault took place after meeting him through an online dating agency.

She made a statement of complaint to Garda Dolly on January 5 last year that she had been assaulted by Cubbard the previous night.

Cubbard had called to her home with a new television to replace the one he had smashed during a previous altercation. The woman let him in and he set up the new television.

They sat watching TV together and after a while the woman questioned Cubbard about texts he was receiving on his phone.

He became angry with her and smashed a pint glass off the coffee table.  He then held her down and held the broken pint glass to her throat.

Garda Dolly said the accused then threw methylated spirits on the couch and carpet while sitting astride the woman.  He ripped his shirt sleeve off and set it alight with a cigarette lighter.  He then threw the sleeves onto the couch and onto the carpet.

He also grabbed the woman’s mobile phone from her and threw it into the open fire and banged her head off the floor while on top of her.

Cubbard left the woman’s home at 2.30am and she contacted Gardaí the following day.

Garda Dolly said the woman did not want to come to court because she did not want to meet the accused.

In her statement, the woman said the assault had changed her life forever and she was now terrified and could not sleep at night in her own home.

“Every door in my house is now locked and I often get up during the night to check the doors are locked,” she said.

She said she could not meet anyone else because of the fear Cubbard instilled in her and because of the constant lies he had told her.

“I have lost all faith and trust in men. My physical injuries have gone but the damage done to my mind will never go away.”

Garda Dolly confirmed Cubbard had one previous conviction for   assaulting another woman, causing her harm, for which he received a ten-month sentence in 1999.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy said Cubbard and the woman had a tempestuous relationship.

Cubbard brought €2,345 to court to pay for the damage caused to the woman’s home and wrote her a letter of apology. Garda Dolly said there was considerably more damage caused than what was previously thought.

Mr McCarthy agreed and said his client planned to bring a further   €4,000 to court if given the opportunity to do so.

Judge Rory McCabe said the total lack of self-control and wanton   violence used against a defenceless, vulnerable woman placed the   assault close to the top of the scale of gravity.

The judge said the headline sentence was four and a half years for each offence before aggravating and mitigating factors were considered. However, he adjourned finalisation of sentence to February for the payment of further compensation and for Cubbard to be further assessed by the probation service.


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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