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Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod

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Proud streaker

A Garryowen man who streaked on to the pitch during the Ireland-Australia International Rules fixture in Limerick last month said he did so to enliven the dull fare being offered up by the teams at the Gaelic Grounds.

"The crowd were cheering me on. They loved it," Paul Hinchey told reporters after being fined €200 for public order offenses at Limerick District Court.

Hinchey, 22, pleaded guilty to public intoxication and abusive behavior.  A charge of offending modesty and causing scandal that could injure the morals of the community was struck out.

His solicitor Muiris Gavin -- a former Limerick senior footballer -- said the match had not been going well in terms of excitement.
"It was the highlight of the evening and he says he did to get the crowd going," Gavin said, adding, "He got the biggest roar of the night.”

O'Brien suggested that Hinchey, an unemployed electrician, might be able to find a job in Australia where temperatures were much warmer.
- Limerick Leader

Kells under attack

As frightening levels of antisocial behavior continue in the Maudlin Street area of Kells, it has emerged that a local town councilor was attacked in the area in recent weeks and passing motorists have also come under attack.

Residents of a number of estates in the area say they are being terrorized by youths who attack passers-by, throw stones at passing cars, threaten local residents and light fires in local estates.

Councilor Sean Drew was assaulted while walking in the Mauldin area recently, and two passing cars were damaged on Thursday, October 21, by stone-throwing youths.

Gardai (police) and the fire service were called to fires in the area over the weekend, and cars passing along Maudlin Street came under attack from groups of youths.

Drew said there was a serious problem in the area and strong action would have to be taken.

Tommy Grimes said what was happening was an absolute scandal and warned that somebody could be seriously hurt.

“It is out of control. Somebody will be seriously hurt, or people will start taking the law into their own hands,” he warned.

He pointed out that the fire brigade had been called out several times over the weekend, and there was another incident on Monday in which a bonfire was lit in the area.

“People are afraid to open their doors. Elderly people are terrified and are afraid to go to the Gardai but we, as a council, are not afraid and we will take whatever action we have to,” he warned.

The speaker of Kells Town Council, Councilor Conor Ferguson, said elderly people living in the area were taking taxis into town because they were too afraid to walk. He said youngsters as young as 14 were able to get their hands on alcohol and were causing huge problems for local people.
- Meath Chronicle

Horses abandoned

Kevin McGinley, regional inspector for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), said abandoned or stray horses are becoming an increasing problem in Donegal and around the country.

"It does present serious difficulties when horses have been abandoned or left stray along the side of the road, both for the welfare of the animal and for the general public," he said.

Now that the equine industry has collapsed, he said, "Either people are unable or unwilling to provide adequate veterinary treatment if required, and animals are actually being dumped when they present with veterinary difficulties."

He said the national ISPCA helpline received 453 calls in 2008, 1,140 calls in 2009 and more than 1,000 calls by May of this year.

"You can see a trend there," McGinley said. He said identifying the owner of a stray or abandoned horse can be a problem.

"There is a percentage that you can identify, but unfortunately there are too many that we can't," he said. By law, all equines are to be microchipped, he said, but it becomes an issue of enforcement.

"What we tend to believe is during the boom times excessive numbers of horses were produced in Ireland, however the ensuing recession, combined with the collapse in equine prices, has resulted in large numbers of valueless horses for which owners are unable or unwilling to offer adequate care," he said. "That has been a trend over the last three years."
- Donegal Democrat

Welfare fraudster

A man has appeared in court in Mullingar charged with defrauding the Department of Social Protection of thousands of euro over four years.

It is alleged that Paul Murray of no fixed abode but with an address in Thailand claimed in excess of a quarter of a million euro by making claims under nine different names.

He currently faces a number of sample charges relating to claims at Cavan, Trim, and Mullingar.

Following his arrest as he left the social welfare office in Cavan on October 19, he was interviewed and charged. He replied to those sample charges “I accept this.”

Garda Peter Kelly said the sample charges refer to three different identities, and his bank accounts are currently being looked into.
During a preliminary hearing, Kelly objected to the 63-year-old getting bail.

Since 2006, he said, Murray has claimed various payments, including disability allowance, jobseeker’s allowance, and supplementary welfare allowance.

When arrested, a search of his person and vehicle uncovered 10 Irish birth certificates and one from the U.K. He also had eight false U.K. driver’s licenses and three passports, only one of which was in his own name.

Kelly said Murray returns to Ireland from Thailand every three months to sign on. The passports were used not just for the purpose of making claims but also to travel around the world, he said. Murray has had no permanent address in Ireland since 1974.

The investigation has already gone on for three months, and Gardai were “prepared and ready for interview” after he was observed in Cavan signing on under the name of Thomas Murray with false documentation.

Gardai have much of the original documentation he used to open bank accounts, Kelly said, and a book of evidence will be ready within weeks.

They have evidence of six bank accounts, and Murray “made full admissions regarding all aspects” of the investigation, he said.
Solicitor Redmond O’Regan applied for bail, saying his client is not in the best of health and has co-operated completely with Gardai. His client had never attempted to deny any matters, he said.

He said Murray was happy to surrender his own correct passport and would agree to any sign-on conditions requested by the state.
Murray has been in custody for a week following his initial appearances before the court, and Judge Aeneas McCarthy refused bail and ordered that Murray appear before Mullingar District Court again on November 4.
- Mullingar Advertiser

Saved by a button

A Taxi driver was left in a state of severe shock after a drunk and abusive passenger suddenly pulled out a large hunting knife which was strapped to his leg and threatened him with it.

Believing that he was in danger, the terrified taxi driver immediately pressed a panic button alerting taxi colleagues and Gardai to the potentially dangerous events that were unfolding in the early hours of last Sunday morning at a housing estate in Riverside, Tuam Road.

The sounding of the panic button alerted other taxi drivers in the vicinity, who all rushed to the scene to protect their terrified colleague.

It is believed that at 5 a.m. the taxi brought the man to the destination, but there was difficulty in finding the address.

After handing the driver money for the fare the passenger, who was drunk, then suddenly reached down to get hold of a hunting knife which was strapped to his leg and proceeded to threaten the driver with it.

As this was happening, the quick-thinking driver pressed the panic button which sent out the alert. Within just a few minutes a number of other taxi drivers who were in the area converged on the scene.

The taxis surrounded the taxi in which the alleged assailant was a passenger and he got out of the car. The taxis were quickly followed by Garda squad cars and the man, who was standing in the street by this time, was arrested.

The alleged assailant, a 31-year-old foreign national with an address in Doughiska, was arrested and brought to Galway Garda station and subsequently charged with an offense under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act.

He was later released on his own bail and isdue to appear at Galway District Court on November 15 next to meet the charges.

A Garda spokesperson said that although this was undoubtedly a “frightening occurrence” for the taxi driver, this level of violence in Galway is very rare.

Panic buttons in taxi are now commonplace in some taxi companies in the city. They were introduced as concerns grew about the potential dangers posed by late night passengers.
- Galway Advertiser

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