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A man who brings us back to the basic tenets of faith

Francis Farragher

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Fr. Tony Flannery: voice of the 'ordinary' believer.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

My ageing Massey Ferguson is not exactly the envy of my neighbourhood but it does have an old radio that works, keeping me in touch with all things local and national.

In the midst of my chores on Saturday, I tuned into Radio 1, where the excellent Áine Lawlor was doing an interview with one Fr Tony Flannery, the Redemptorist priest from Attymon, whose Masses I have chanced to attend, and enjoyed, over the years, but alas not any more.

For the past three years, Fr Tony has been ‘suspended from duties’ by a powerful body in the Catholic Church, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), something akin to a disciplinary committee of the GAA, except that they are a lot more secretive and judgmental.

His so-called crime was that, at the height of the clerical sex abuse scandal in Ireland, he wrote that the “priesthood as we have it now in Ireland, is not as Jesus intended”, if anything, an understatement in terms the awfulness of what happened for decades across every corner of Ireland.  Years back the term ‘silenced’ was used in the context of disciplinary action against priests, but Tony Flannery certainly has not been silenced since the ruling by the CDF: in fact, he has travelled internationally to set up a reform movement in the Church.

Now 68 years of age, he remarked rather jaundicedly that his best chance of having the sanctions against him lifted would be a scenario, maybe a decade or so from now, if he was terminally ill, and the authorities decided that enough was enough.

He was there at the very start of the Galway Novena over 30 years ago and it was rather poignant to hear him speak of his official Church isolation towards the end of another successful nine day celebration of faith by the banks of the Corrib and also on the year’s great date of love, Valentine’s Day.

The poor man is obviously hurting very deeply on a personal level by being prevented from ‘putting on the vestments’ and celebrating the Eucharist, his great mission and purpose in life. But despite the unpleasantness of it all, he has also been stimulated by the many, many people in the Church, who want to see reform brought in and who want to see an end to the cloak-and-dagger attitude that has dragged the institution to its knees over recent years.

One of his tales about attending a recent funeral of a person that he knew well paints its own picture of a side of the Church that’s more reminiscent of the CIA than a Christian organisation. The priest in charge of the ceremony asked Tony Flannery to put on the vestment and to ‘come up on the altar’ with him. It was an offer he declined on the basis, that if he did go onto the altar, word of his action would have reached the Vatican by that same evening, and (in my words) ‘all hell would break loose’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Hopes mediation plan will end boycott of Council committees

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Independent mediation is required to resolve simmering rows in two Local Authority committees that debate planning and transport policy.

Community members of the two Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) are so peed-off, they’ve boycotted them.

It’s a tactic that backfired because the SPCs effectively ignored the boycott and carried on as normal without them!

Now, efforts are afoot to ‘bang heads together’ to end the stand-off and bring some normality to these committees, which are important for local democracy, and for giving communities a voice and input into policy. But there are so many egos involved, it is no easy task.

Here’s the truncated lowdown. All five City Council SPCs have eight Councillors and four unelected reps, including two from Galway City Community Network (GCCN), and two others, including from trade unions or business lobby groups.

Four GCCN reps withdrew from the Planning SPC and Transport SPC, chaired by Cllrs Peter Keane and Eddie Hoare. They are: Shane Foran, Derrick Hambleton, Brendan Mulligan and Paul O’Donnell. GCCN reps remained on the other three SPCs.

The Famous Four ‘boycotters’ have various gripes; among them how the SPCs, which meet every quarter, conduct their business.

“It’s the mushroom approach, fed sh*t and kept in the dark,” said a source close to the Feisty Four.

The fear is that the ‘agenda is being controlled’ by the City Council’s Directors of Services, and the Chief Executive. Certain topics aren’t discussed at SPC because they’re ‘executive’ functions.

Management disputes this; nay, they recoil in horror at the mere thought that they’re the problem. Sure, aren’t SPCs councillor-led; Directors merely facilitate them.

Councillors don’t exactly like GCCN reps telling them how to run SPCs. They feel that the Famous Four are using the SPCs to push ‘agendas’.

“They’re trying to dismantle the Galway Transportation Strategy; they’re trying to re-write it. They want to take out the Galway Outer Ring Road from the strategy, and to insert a toy train or whatever it is they’re looking for,” growled one.

This, too, is disputed; the reps may be members of An Taisce, or Galway Cycling Campaign but insist they are articulating the views of GCCN and not their own organisations.

Councillors aren’t so sure. “Councillors are elected. Whether you like us or not, we have a mandate and were voted in by the people. We can vote to change policy, such as on the Galway City Development Plan. These bucks can’t. If they want to influence policy let them put their f**king faces up on posters and stand for election,” snorted another.

The Feisty Four flagged their concerns last June. Nothing happened. In October, they threatened a withdrawal. They were ignored. The November SPCs were boycotted.

CE Brendan McGrath proposed a ‘Can we not all just get along?’ solution of mediation. The Famous Four were invited back without prejudice, until a mediator could be appointed. They agreed. But a ‘breakdown in communication’ between the CE and secretariat, meant that two GCCN members were not sent the minutes of meetings they boycotted, or a Zoom link to a virtual SPC meeting in February. The boycotters were – albeit inadvertently – locked out of the meeting, and felt ‘snubbed’. That mistake wasn’t repeated for the Transport SPC of Wednesday of this week and GCCN members attended without prejudice. Best of luck to the independent mediator resolving this one!

(Photo: Derrick Hambleton, one of Galway City Community Network’s (GCCN) representatives on the City Council’s Strategic Policy Committees. He and three other GCCN reps withdrew from the Planning SPC and Transport SPC, feeling they were receiving ‘the mushroom’ treatment).
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Will the pandemic change our lives forever – for the better?

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Storm-chasing...trip to the US to interview Bill Clinton and the late George Mitchell.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

My last trip abroad was in early March of last year. I was involved in a documentary for RTÉ, interviewing George Mitchell, Bill Clinton and US-based journalist Ed Moloney.                                         I felt like one of those storm chasers who actively go looking for tornadoes and try to stay just ahead of it.

They do it for thrills; we did it by chance and, as the trip went on, with an increasing sense of fear and foreboding.

It was a four-day trip. We arrived in Florida and left the next day after interviewing Mitchell, the broker of the Good Friday Agreement. Almost as soon as the plane was airborne, one of the US’s first major breakouts occurred there.

We arrived in New York just as the first cases were being announced there and left on the eve of the city being shut down by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Bill Clinton’s people cancelled the interview initially, but then agreed to do it the next day. Just after we left, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrived in the US to announce a St Patrick’s Day like no other, and to shut down the country.

It might sound like the life of a political correspondent is an exotic one and we spend all of our time jetting abroad. The converse is true. Most of my working life in Ireland has been spent (until lockdown came in) around the vicinity of Kildare Street in Dublin 2.

Foreign trips are few and far between – besides, as I get older, they no longer have that pulse-quickening lure they once may have had.

Anyway, as I departed my front door, my wife doused me with sanitising gel in the same way my mother used to spray me with Holy Water when I was off on some trip as a younger man.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Power nap holds the key to a productive end to the day

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The truth has finally come home to roost for all of those Government Ministers caught on camera, dozing during Dáil business from the comfortable seats of the Dublin Convention Centre.

They’re not sleeping; they’re just resting their eyes, recharging themselves for the rest of their busy day – and in doing so they’re ahead of the rest of us who didn’t know that forty winks was the key to a more productive day.

Because scientists from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China have found those who take a little sleep after lunch subsequently perform better on tests designed to assess their cognitive ability than non-nappers.

In particular, the power-nappers, once they woke, went on to display better verbal fluency, working memory and orientation, according to the researchers.

This must be some consolation to those of us who can drop off like we were hit by a bullet, and can then accidently wake ourselves with one of our own snores.

It’s been said before that you know you’re knocking on a small bit when you doze off during the evening news and wake up during Reeling in the Years – and you can’t tell the difference.

My own late father had a way of falling asleep while reading the paper (he was tired, not bored) but if you tried to slide the pages away from under his folded arms, you’d find he’d respond like a cat protecting his young.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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