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The Voice busker lands four year driving ban

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A busker who recently featured on RTE’s The Voice hit a bum note when he was banned from driving for four years after two drink driving offences.

Singing talent, Paul Taylor (46), who became infamous for living in his car with his two dogs, and who now resides at Parkmore, Tuam, appeared before Galway District Court this week where he pleaded guilty to a drink driving offence, detected by Gardaí at St Mary’s Road, Galway at 2am on November 2 last year.

Mr Taylor contested a second charge of failing to give a breath sample at Galway Garda Station following his arrest at Hynes car park on New Year’s Eve on suspicion of a second drink driving offence.

A car park attendant told the hearing he came across the defendant at 10.45pm on New Year’s Eve. He said Taylor came to the desk and said he had paid for a ticket, but he knew he didn’t.

The attendant said he knew Taylor was not in a fit state to drive and for his own safety and the safety of others, he asked him to go and sleep it off in his car and he would let him out (of the car park) later on.

Taylor promised him he would stay in the car but ten minutes later he was driving around the car park.

The attendant said he asked Taylor to go back up and park the car, but Taylor threatened to drive through the barriers and said nobody would stop him.

“He got out of the car, roaring and shouting, and I had to call the Gardaí because I thought he would drive through the barriers,” the attendant said.

Defence solicitor, Sarah O’Dowd said her client absolutely denied threatening to cause any damage to the barriers. She said her client had told the attendant he had trouble with the ticket machine which kept spitting out his ticket and he wanted to pay the ticket at the desk.

Garda Evan McKenna told the court he went to the car park and found Taylor standing beside his Ford Fiesta car. He got a very strong small of alcohol from his breath. Taylor, he said, admitted he had been driving his car but said it had only been in the car park.

Garda McKenna said he arrested the accused at 11.40pm and brought him to Galway Garda Station where he didn’t provide a breath specimen when requested to do so.

Sergeant Brendan Moore, who operated the breathalyser machine on the night, gave evidence he told the accused he would be committing an offence if he did not provide a breath sample.

He said the defendant told him he was trying to give a breath sample, but in his opinion, he was not trying very hard and the machine failed to register a breath sample after three attempts.

Taylor denied he had threatened to drive through the barrier.  “Why would I do that?  I had my two dogs in the car.  I wouldn’t do anything to harm them.  I didn’t threaten to break the barrier,” he said. He admitted having drink taken on the night, but said he was never read his rights at the Garda Station.

“The Gardaí said it was New Year’s Eve and they wanted to get out of there and I told them they were getting paid to be there. I wasn’t told I would be disqualified for four years if I didn’t give a breath specimen. It wasn’t explained to me,” he said.

During cross-examination by inspector Derek Gannon, Taylor said he had drank six cans while busking on the street between 6pm and 11pm on New Year’s Eve.

Judge Fahy convicted Taylor of failing to give the breath sample.  She said he had met experienced Gardaí who were on duty that night, no matter what night of the year it was, and they had performed their duties.

Insp Gannon said that a blood sample taken for the first driving driving offence committed last November, which Taylor pleaded guilty to, showed a reading of 268 mgs of alcohol per 100mls of blood.

He said Taylor had a previous conviction in 2006 for drink driving and for driving without insurance in 2010. Ms O’Dowd said her client had a sad history of depression following struggles with issues surrounding childhood institutional care.

She said he split from his partner in early 2014 and had been living in his car for some months.

He would have regularly slept in the car park during the winter months when it was very cold outside, she explained.

In reply to Judge Fahy, Ms O’Dowd said her client had since obtained a Council house in Tuam and has not been driving since.

She said he had started gigging in and around Galway, was a very talented singer and his career had started to take off.  “I’ve heard him myself and he’s really very good,” Ms O’Dowd added.

Judge Fahy agreed.  She said she had seen him on TV, and heard him singing on The Voice. She said it was unfortunate that he had been the subject of abuse as a child and suggested he get counselling.

“He has talent and he should now work on the positives,” she said.

Taylor said he was living in Tuam since December and was getting the bus into town now.

Judge Fahy convicted and fined him €400 for the November drink driving offence and imposed the mandatory three-year disqualification for that.

She said the second offence was committed just a month afterwards and had to be dealt with differently.

She imposed a three-month sentence for that, which she suspended for twelve months along with a four-year disqualification, to run concurrently to the first disqualification.

A one-month concurrent sentence was imposed on Taylor for not having insurance which was also suspended. Leave to appeal the convictions was granted.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest

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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 www.connachttribune.ie. 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

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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 www.connachttribune.ie. 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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises

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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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