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No prosecutions yet over petrol-stretching in Galway



Just 21 cases of ‘petrol-stretching’ have been reported to Gardaí in Galway in the past six months, according to figures from the Minister for Justice.

But the Gardaí have yet to submit a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions as a result of any of the complaints they have received.

And during the same period, a total of 17 complaints were made to Revenue in Galway about the scam.

The scam – which involves unscrupulous retailers adding around 10% kerosene to unleaded petrol to hike profits – has seen several hundred cars destroyed in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in recent months

Revenue has sent a total of 208 samples from across the country to the State Laboratory – just two samples (from one unnamed filling station) were found to have evidence of a stretching agent, and a file is being prepared for prosecution.

The figures have led to a renewed appeal by authorities for motorists to ensure they report suspected cases to both the Gardaí and Revenue.

The Galway statistics pale into insignificance when compared to the 222 complaints made to Gardaí in Mayo during the same six-month period. There were 65 reports in the Roscommon/Longford Garda Division and none in Sligo.

During the same period, there were 40 reports to Revenue in Mayo; 15 in Roscommon and none in Leitrim.

Independent Deputy Denis Naughten has called for the Revenue to make their information available to members of the public who wish to take a civil action against.

“While the Revenue Commissioners are progressing investigations, indications are that in the vast majority of cases there is no breach of excise legislation. In such instances, Revenue must make this evidence available to assist motorists in taking a possible civil action to recoup the significant cost of the damage to their cars.

“I would also plead with motorists to report their suspicions about petrol-stretching – where rogue fuel merchants add a 10% mix of kerosene home heating oil to petrol to increase profits – to both the Gardaí and Revenue. This information is vital to get a clear picture of what exactly happened to destroy these engines in the first place” said Deputy Naughten.

According to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, all Garda investigations are ongoing, and no files have yet been prepared for the DPP.

“In addition to analysing samples referred to it, the State Laboratory is providing technical and scientific support for the ongoing investigations as the analysis of potentially stretched petrol is a complex one which, to date, has involved a significant level of time-consuming, non-routine testing bearing in mind the sufficient level of evidence required in order to pursue prosecutions in this area.

“I am also advised that the volume of samples sent for analysis has necessitated a reallocation of resources within the State Laboratory,” said Minister Fitzgerald.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan – referring to Revenue’s interest in the scam – said results over the past fortnight have found petrol contaminated with diesel.

“Normally when fraudsters attempt to stretch petrol, they add methanol, kerosene or other low excise duty agents. To date, 208 samples have been referred by Revenue to the State Laboratory for analysis. Despite extensive testing by the State Laboratory, no evidence of any prohibited stretching agent has been found in any of the samples, except two samples taken from one site.

“The conclusive results received in that particular case has resulted in the seizure of the product and closure of the facility and a file is being prepared for prosecution,” said Minister Noonan.

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.

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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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