Travellers don’t want sites near anti-social city councillors

Traveller caravans on the grounds of Galway City Hall in February 2016. It didn't solve the issue of housing for memebrs of the Travelling community.
Traveller caravans on the grounds of Galway City Hall in February 2016. It didn't solve the issue of housing for memebrs of the Travelling community.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway City Councillors are to the body politic what bareknuckle streetfighters are to the Travelling community: a disgrace.

Speaker after speaker during debate about proposed new halting sites mentioned the “small minority” of Travellers who tarnish the entire community with anti-social behaviour.

And yet, the same councillors, without a hint of irony, proceeded to behave in the most antisocial manner during the course of Monday’s four-hour discussion.

It’s difficult to blacken the name of Irish politics any further but, by dad, there are no limits to the depths to which the creatúrs up at City Hall will plunge in order to make a holy show of themselves.

In fairness, it wasn’t all a slagging match. And they’ve been worse. But there were insults and interruptions aplenty.

It’s been quite a while since a City Council meeting was abandoned due to unruly members’ squabbling, but it teetered on the brink of breakdown again at one point on Monday.

At times, behaviour that is borderline bullying, downright rude and contemptuous of each other, management and the public, threatened to boil over in the Council chamber.

It was Pearse Flannery – of all people – who eventually dampened the threat of insurrection.

Normally not one to shy away from a bit of a barney, the Fine Gael man helped restore calm.

Pragmatic Pearse begged his colleagues to “reflect” on the fact that if they didn’t pipe-down, an abandoned meeting would dominate headlines.

It all kicked-off with an innocent enough shemozzle between Colette Connolly and Mayor Noel Larkin, chair of the meeting.

Colette accused Noel of bias. He cut short her contribution twice, which meant she hadn’t the same time as everyone else to speak.

Incandescent, Noel denied the charge; demanded a withdrawal.

Pádraig Conneely, Colette’s nemesis, couldn’t resist wading in. She “wasn’t even elected” he said, and took her sister Catherine’s seat, was the gist of his diatribe that ended in use of the word “sh*t”.

“Are you going to let him curse? Double standards!” screamed Colette at Noel.

“Are you going to apologise to me? Withdraw that remark,” Noel demanded.

“You are biased,” Colette snorted back.

Ollie Crowe told Noel to “cop on”. “You interrupted the lady twice, TWICE, will ya get on with it,” he harrumphed.

After a tense stand-off, and eyeballing, Colette withdrew the slur when Noel agreed to stop butting-in.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.