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‘Vulnerable’ men became victims of thefts after being lured into car



A woman who claims she has a gambling problem, preyed on two elderly and vulnerable men, stealing cash from both of them.

Maura Dillon (48), of An Cimin Mór, Cappagh Road, Galway, pleaded guilty to the theft of €500 and a bus pass from an elderly patient being treated for a heart condition at UHG on February 22 last when she appeared before Galway District Court.

The mother of two also pleaded guilty to the theft of €100 from a 76-year-old man at Maree Road, Oranmore on November 15 last.

Sergeant Brendan Moore said the first offence occurred when Dillon stopped her car alongside an elderly man in Oranmore village at 11am on November 15 last and asked him for directions to Maree. She asked him to get into the car and show her the way and he agreed.

She turned the car around in Maree and was on the return journey to Oranmore when she stopped and told the man his seat belt was not on properly.

She leaned across as if to fix the belt, but instead stole an envelope which contained two €50 notes from the inside pocket of the elderly man’s jacket.  She then dropped him off in Oranmore.  He later noticed the money had been taken.

CCTV captured the elderly man getting out of Dillon’s car.

Sgt Moore said the second offence involved another vulnerable man who was making his way to the acute ward in UHG for a heart check-up at 1.30pm on February 22 last.

Dillon again pulled her car alongside him as he walked to the hospital and offered him a lift. He refused to get into the car and walked on.  She persisted by pulling alongside the man further up the road and speaking to him in Irish. He answered her in Irish and agreed to take the lift.

She went into the hospital with him for his heart check-up. She asked him if he had money for food while sitting on the bed before the check-up and he told her his wallet was in his trousers which were left on the bed.

He went for the tests and later discovered the wallet was taken when he returned to his cubicle to get dressed.  It had contained €500 and a bus pass.

CCTV at the hospital identified Dillon as the culprit. The cash was not recovered in either case, Sgt Moore added. He confirmed Dillon had no previous convictions.

Defending solicitor, Colin Lynch said his client was a 48-year-old woman with a partner and two children, aged 20 and five. They were all dependent on her and a letter from her GP was handed into court.

Mr Lynch said his client had developed a “bad habit” of gambling and that was why she ended up committing these offence for which she was deeply ashamed, he said.

Mr Lynch said his client had brought €100 to court and would pay the balance if given more time.

Judge Grainne O’Neill said Dillon had since last November to pay the compensation and she had come into court with just €100.

“That’s not exactly impressive. This was a very nasty crime, preying on vulnerable people.  There was a level of premeditation involved that I would not expect from a woman her age with no previous convictions, involving an ill man with a heart condition and a 76 year-old man,” Judge O’Neill observed.

She directed the €100 be handed over for the victims and let the matter stand until the afternoon sitting of the court for Dillon to come up with more compensation.

In the afternoon, Mr Lynch said his client had managed to come up with another €100.

“That’s not putting her best foot forward,” Judge O’Neill warned before deciding to adjourn sentencing to October for the balance of compensation to be paid.  She directed a probation report on the accused prior to sentence in October.


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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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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