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Two jailed for attack on man and his fiancée



Two men have been sentenced to twelve months in prison for assaulting a man with a baseball bat and a pool cue as he walked with his fiancée near her home on a winter’s evening.

Christopher Sherlock (20), 77 Droim Chaoin, Bishop O’Donnell Road, Rahoon, and Jonathan Ward (19), 58 Carn Ard, Rahoon, both denied assaulting Brendan Finnerty, causing him harm, at John Coogan Park, on November 17, 2013.

They also denied a charge of assaulting Bridget Ward during the same incident, while Sherlock denied a lesser charge of assaulting Brendan Finnerty.

Giving evidence that she had often changed his nappy, Bridget Ward told the hearing at Galway District Court last Monday that she was Jonathan Ward’s aunt and had “practically reared him”.

Mr Finnerty gave evidence he was walking with his then fiancee, who is now his wife, to her home at around 5pm when they heard footsteps  running towards them in the dark through an alleyway near her home.

He said he was struck on the back of the head and when he turned around he saw Christopher Sherlock, who struck him again on the shoulder.

Ward, he said, had the bottom half of a pool cue in his hand which had a screw at the top and he hit him three times on the wrist and once on the elbow as he put up his arms to defend himself.

He said that while Ward was hitting him with the pool cue, he could see Sherlock holding the baseball bat over his fiancée’s head, threatening her.

Mr Finnerty said he received five staples to the back of his head following the attack.

Bridget Ward told the court she and her husband were within 20 yards of her home in John Coogan Park that evening when they were attacked by both accused. She said she knew both of them very well.

Ms Ward said she went back to the scene of the attack later that evening with Garda Trevor Lohan. She said she found the pool cue and used a piece of paper to pick it up so that her fingerprints would not contaminate it.

She said she brought it home and placed it in a plastic bag and gave it to Garda Lohan when giving her statement the following week.

Garda Lohan said he went to the scene of the attack with Ms Ward but they never found a pool cue there.  He said he took it from her the following week when she called to the Station to make a statement and he still had it in his locker.

Under cross-examination by defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor, Garda Lohan confirmed he did not have the cue forensically examined for fingerprints as it had not been found at the scene on the night of the attack.

Both Sherlock and Ward gave conflicting accounts to the court of their whereabouts on the evening of the assault.

Sherlock said he had been in Bantry that day with Jonathan Ward, his father, Patrick Sherlock, and an uncle.  He said he went straight to bed when he got in home earlier that evening and did not attack anyone.

In a statement given to Gardai after the attack, Ward claimed he had been at home in Rahoon all day and had been in bed that evening, too, when the attack took place.  He said he had not met Sherlock at all on that date.

However, while giving direct evidence to the court on Monday after hearing Sherlock’s evidence, Ward changed his story and said he had been in Bantry with the Sherlocks that day.

Judge Mary Fahy said his evidence to the court was embarrassing.

She imposed a 12-month sentence on each of them for the serious assault on Mr Finnerty.

She imposed two, concurrent, three-month sentences on Sherlock for the lesser assaults on Mr Finnerty and Ms Ward.

Inspector Brendan Carroll said Sherlock had four previous convictions, including one for assault causing harm, for which he had received a eight-month suspended sentence, and for being found in possession of a baseball bat and slash hook at his uncle’s funeral for which he had been ordered to carry out community service in lieu of a nine-month prison sentence.

Those offences, the court heard, had predated this latest offence.

Ward, Inspector Carroll said, had 24 previous convictions, including seven for thefts, others for road traffic offences and one for assault causing harm, for which he had received a suspended 13-month sentence.

That offence, he said, had occurred prior to this latest offence.

Judge Fahy said she found Ward’s attitude, given that Bridget Ward was his aunt, very disturbing.

She imposed a 12-month sentence on him for the assault on Mr Finnerty but struck out the charge against him for assaulting his aunt, as no evidence was given of him assaulting her.

Ward hugged his mother and partner in court, assuring both of them that he would be out of jail in four months.

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.

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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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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