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People living in fear, crime meeting is told



People are living in fear of being attacked in their rural homes across the county while some others are living in terror of a repeat attack, a public meeting on crime heard.

The crux of the matter is that there aren’t enough Gardaí on the beat, not enough patrol cars and too few police stations left open in rural Galway – that was the consensus of those who attended the meeting on crime prevention in the community.

The meeting was organised by the three Galway West candidates for Fianna Fáil, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, Cllr Mary Hoade and John Connolly, who chaired the event.

Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Crime Prevention Officer, and Bernard Kearney, of Muintír na Tíre, reiterated the importance of personal awareness re security matters and crime and said that a good community alert scheme was crucial to help make people safe in their own homes.

Sgt Flanagan outlined a number of ways individuals and the community can prevent crime or help Gardaí solve crime.

Having your house burgled, said Sgt Flanagan, was probably one of the most traumatic crimes for householders not only because personal property was stolen but thinking of strangers going through your rooms and invading your privacy was very distressing.

A number of people at the meeting said they believed the courts weren’t hard enough on burglars believing it was now considered a misdemeanour and those who did speak from the floor called for longer sentences. It was also contended that free legal aid fees should be collected from those convicted through social welfare payments.

There was also huge criticism from the floor at how many people re-offended while out on bail.

Deputy Ó Cuív said each case was different and that prison wasn’t always the answer.

“We have to be logical about this. You can’t jail people forever. The best thing is to get them away from a life of crime. And though many benefit from courses while in prison, one of the best stabilisers I have been told, is having a stable relationship.

“Being employed, too, reduces the chance of them reoffending. There’s a huge social issue here that has to be tackled. I believe that prison can become a university of crime for young people so sending people to prison for every crime is not the answer,” he added.

The message from the meeting was that the best way to reduce crime was vigilance, being aware of taking certain safety measures whether at home, in a place of business or in your car. But as well as individual responsiblities, communities, too, could help by being mindful of elderly people, especially those living on their own, being alert to strange and unusual movements in their areas, according to Sgt Flanagan who said he was more than happy to talk to residents associations and community groups.

Mr Kearney said Muintír na Tíre had helped set up a number of community alert groups and had recently set up a text alert scheme. He spointed out there were still a lot of vulnerable older people living in isolation in rural areas. These people, he said, needed to be checked on regularly and that was something communities could take on.

Cllr Mary Hoade said the moratorium on Gardaí had hit their numbers which meant less of them on the beat. The closure of ten Garda stations in rural Galway had not helped matters, she added.

John Connolly, who chaired the event, said: “Every community across County Galway has felt the effects of this crime wave that is sweeping across the country. Not a week goes by without reports about the latest burglary or robbery and people are becoming increasingly fearful in their own homes, especially those who are elderly or living on their own. I was shocked recently at the number of people who raised the issue with me on the doorstep,” said Mr Connolly.

Though burglaries, both in private homes and businesses, were much discussed, other crimes worrying those in attendance (there were about 80 in the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill), were scams and bogus callers.

Sgt Flanagan advised people not to engage with unsolicited telephone callers or with cold callers to the door and never part with banking details.

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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