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Police Investigating Galway Councillor Over Catfishing and Grooming Allegations

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Gardaí in Galway are investigating if a former Social Democrats councillor attempted to groom an underage boy for sex by using a fake social media account to catfish the then-16-year-old.

‘Catfishing’ is the term used when someone conceals their identity by creating a false online profile. Last January, a young man posted a video on social media claiming Galway councillor Owen Hanley had tried to groom him.

Days later, Mr Hanley resigned from the party and from Galway City Council.

In a statement at the time, Mr Hanley – formerly a member of the Social Democrats’ national executive – said: ‘These are very serious matters and will obviously take a considerable length of time to be investigated fully… In these circumstances I believe that the correct thing for me to do is to resign my membership of Galway City Council.’

Gardaí launched an investigation after the teenager made a lengthy statement alleging he was targeted by the former politician.

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A Garda spokesman said this weekend: ‘An Garda Síochána has received a complaint of certain matters allegedly involving a juvenile victim. Enquiries are ongoing.’

Cllr Owen Hanley.

Cllr Owen Hanley.

The news comes after a string of mainly left-wing councillors have either been suspended, arrested, or imprisoned across the UK for allegedly grooming or raping children.

This month, a senior Labour councillor was arrested in Scotland and charged over alleged child grooming offences. He now becomes the second Labour politician to have fallen foul of the law so far this year in relation to the abuse of children.

Anas Sarwar’s ‘Scottish branch’ of the Labour Party has this evening suspended Councillor David Graham, a senior figure on Fife Council who up until today held a prominent position on the cabinet.

Graham, 41, is a Labour councillor for Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss villages, Fife’s representative at Cosla, and is also a non-executive director on the board of NHS Fife.

The Labour councillor is due to appear in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court “at a later date”, police have confirmed.

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Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 41-year-old man has been arrested and charged in relation to grooming offences following an investigation in Fife.

Read the full story here.

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