Appeal for more gardaí after string of violent incidents in Galway
A string of recent anti-social and violent incidents in Galway have sparked calls for more gardaí in the city.
A video online showed a man being chased down Quay Street by a gang who appeared to be armed with large knives.
The victim was trapped against a shop front by two men before making his escape by running past two others.
The busy street can be seen in the rest of the video with members of the public apparently unaware of the violent incident occurring. Advertisement https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.486.2_en_gb.html#goog_8431757510 seconds of 30 secondsVolume 0%
The attack comes after a young woman lost sight in one eye after being hit in the face by a firework in Galway city centre early last Friday.
The attack took place shortly after midnight at Eyre Square, leading some to describe it as a ‘no-go area’.
Colm McDonagh, who runs the nearby Esquires Coffee, said: ‘Our town is beginning to get a bit of a bad reputation. The law and order side of things seems to have fallen away a little and the guards do their very best but the guards don’t seem to be on foot patrol like they used to.’
He told RTÉ Radio 1 that the situation in Galway is the worst it has ever been, adding that more guards are needed on the ground before something ‘gets really out of hand’.
Locals have begun a fundraising campaign to help the young student injured by a firework in Eyre Square with her medical expenses after she lost the sight in one of her eyes.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help her family fund the medical treatments she will need for her injuries.
Over €7,000 of the €30,000 target has been raised since the page went live on Monday.
The page says the incident ‘only adds to recent discussions about the lack of policing in public spaces at night’.
Erika Sassone, an Italian journalist for Galway Beo, was also hit by a firework in Eyre Square, just five nights before last Friday’s incident.
Ms Sassone, who was hit in the back, said it ‘is insane’ that she no longer feels safe in Eyre Square as ‘it is in the middle of the city centre’.
‘I was lucky because it didn’t hit me in the face and it went through so many layers because I was wearing a coat, a jumper and a T-shirt, so that saved me from a very bad wound’, she told RTÉ.
On hearing that another young woman had been attacked with a firework in Eyre Square, Ms Sassone’s first thought was: ‘Where were the gardaí?’
Last month, 19-year-old student Zerhanah Walsh was attacked and thrown to the ground by a group of boys who were shouting homophobic slurs in Eyre Square.
‘I am still afraid of going out late at night’, the student told RTÉ. ‘People are terrified.’
Ollie Crowe, a Fianna Fáil senator born only 200 yards from Eyre Square, has called for a permanent Garda presence to be stationed there.
He suggested turning the disused tourism kiosk in the square into a Garda posting.
Gardaí have issued around 500 fines since January for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a public place. The president of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, condemned antisocial behaviour in the city.
‘We’ll see the Christmas market coming to Galway soon so there will be security in Eyre Square 24/7. Hopefully, with the easing of restrictions, there will be space for students to socialise safely,’ she said.
Councillor Frank Fahy, former mayor of Galway, said last week that Eyre Square had become dangerous at night after a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour. He told a recent City Joint Policing Committee meeting that pre-COVID, the meeting spot was safe.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said he would need ‘another five officers’ to curb anti-social behaviour but added: ‘I haven’t got them.’
The Garda member admitted that the square may need to be closed to the public during certain hours, after the former mayor branded it a ‘no-go’ area in the evening.
Councillor Owen Hanley told the meeting that there was an increasingly ‘unsafe atmosphere’ at night in Galway.
In a written statement to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch as a result of extra Garda patrols.
‘The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square,’ he added.