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Three years for robber who wielded bar to intimidate staff



A 50-year-old man has been jailed for three years with the final year suspended for robbing a city shop armed with a length of aluminium and stealing cash from Dunnes.

John Dodd, with an address in Innishannagh Park, Newcastle, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last July to the robbery of €300 cash from XL Stores, Laurel Park, Newcastle, on October 7 last year and to the theft of €25 in coins for Dunnes Stores, Westside Shopping Centre, on September 3 last.

The plea was accepted by the prosecution on the basis that facts in relation to a charge of having a piece of aluminium in his possession with intent to intimidate or cause injury to another person during the course of the robbery at XL Stores, were admitted.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy asked at the time for sentence to be adjourned for a few months as Dodd, he said, was about to be assessed by St Francis’s Farm detox unit in Tullow, Co. Carlow.  He also asked for a probation report on his client prior to sentence.

Judge Rory McCabe agreed to adjourn sentence to November 6 and directed the preparation of the report for that date.

The court in November heard Dodd was about to go into the detox unit and undergo a 14-week treatment course there.  Sentence was adjourned for that reason to last January and again to last Friday’s court.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy, reminded Judge Rory McCabe on Friday that he gave Dodd a chance last November to go to St Francis Farm for treatment and at the time he warned him he was facing a three-year sentence for the robbery charge and 18 months for the theft

A probation report handed into the court stated Dodd discharged himself from the detox unit after completing just eight weeks of the 14-week course and was still at high risk of reoffending.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy said it had come as a surprise to him and Dodd’s solicitor that their client discharged himself, but on the positive side he had not come to Garda attention since and had remained drug-free.

He agreed with Mr Fahy, however, that there was no formal proof of the latter before the court.

He said Dodd had told him that he got involved in criminality when he was taking drugs and he said his client had told him he was going to start going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings the next day.

“Why is it, that he’s joining NA tomorrow?  Why is that?  Is is because of his proximity to the prison door, that he decides to now deal with this?” Judge McCabe asked rhetorically.

“He’s 50 now and is anxious at this stage to turn his life around,” Mr McCarthy offered by way of explanation.

He added that Dodd told him he left the detox unit because he had a personality clash with people there.

“Will he not have the same clash with people he meets in prison?”, Judge McCabe asked.

Mr McCarthy said that due to his age Dodd was bound to be set in his ways, which made it difficult for him to get on with people in such a setting.

He asked the judge to “hold his hand” and give his client one last chance and attend NA in Galway the next day.

Judge McCabe observed it came as a surprise to Dodd’s defence team that he had left the detox unit and it was clear he didn’t tell the probation service beforehand either.

“The specific reason this sentence wasn’t dealt with last November was because I was told he was going to St. Francis’ Farm for treatment.

“He decided he didn’t like it there and he cleared out.  He is not a young man and he knew well that what he was doing was going to have consequences here today.

“He has to have a better story than the one he is telling his barrister here today.”

The Judge said his reluctance to send anyone to prison was well known if there was a chance of rehabilitation, but Dodd had clearly made a decision to leave the unit after being given a chance to engage with the service.

“And even if he came in here today and said he had proof of being drug-free and was attending NA already and a person from NA was here to prove it, I might adjourn it, but he has done none of that,” Judge McCabe pointed out.

He sentenced Dodd to three years in prison for the robbery and a further 18 months for the theft.  He suspended the final year of the robbery sentence for three years and directed Dodd come under the supervision of the probation service for twelve months on his release from prison.

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.

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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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