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CITY TRIBUNE

A sad day for Galway’s buskers and free speech

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – A Sort Of Political Column with Dara Bradley 

Bylaws placing restrictions on busking and street performances such as acrobatics, puppetry and fire juggling, in the city centre, were passed by Galway City Council this week.
The political credit – or blame – for the new regulations lie with Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind), who championed busking restrictions as far back as 2009, and Cllr Peter Keane (FF), the architect of the wording for the bylaws in their current from; and to the other 10 elected members who backed them, and voted for the bylaws.
That they passed by a 12-6 majority, is a victory for some businesses, and retailers, who flexed their muscle, collectively, to bring pressure on certain city councillors. It worked.
Businesses contribute €40 million in commercial rates to the city’s coffers annually, and they successfully convinced enough councillors that their workers deserve a bit of peace and quiet during the working day. A collection of buskers, no matter how vocal and united, just don’t command that political clout.
As has been argued in this column before, and Pauline O’Reilly (Green) pointed out in the debate on Monday, the bylaws smack of nanny-statism.
Bradley Bytes believes the bylaws are wrong, and on balance, the damage that their introduction could do to Galway’s reputation as an artistic city, and one which cherishes the arts, and artists, outweighs the negative impacts some buskers’ performances have on the ‘protected streetscape’, as the busking exclusion zone is called.
That they’re to come into effect on January 2, 2020, two days into Galway’s European Capital of Culture designation is almost beyond belief. . . it’s worthy of an episode of Father Ted.
We won’t re-hash the arguments against the bylaws; that’s already been won, and as democrats, we must respect the decision of the majority of people who we elected to City Hall to represent us.
One provision in the bylaws, however, is bonkers. It states: “A street performer shall not act, say, do or sing anything that is likely to cause alarm, distress or offence to any member of the public, and business owner or occupier, the Council, authorised persons and/or any member of An Garda Síochána.”
It must be the most chilling, and dangerous attack on free speech in the history of that beacon of democracy we call Galway City Council, and Galway Corporation before it.
Cllr Keane, the proposer of the bylaws, said it was included because of one busker who said particularly nasty things, repeatedly, one day. What this nasty thing was, wasn’t divulged to the meeting, presumably to spare all our blushes; maybe it is a thing that somebody somewhere ‘perceives’ to be nasty.
But nobody at Monday’s meeting could explain who will decide what acts are allowed or not, based on their capacity – or likelihood – of causing offence. Will City Hall employ thought police, to dilute buskers’ performances? Will they issue fines, if they don’t temper their acts?
Without freedom of expression, buskers don’t exist. Without freedom of speech, newspapers and newspaper columns documenting the demise of busking – online or in print – wouldn’t exist either.
That anti-free speech clause is almost certainly unconstitutional, it is most definitely unworkable, and is a complete affront to democracy. With all this noise about busking, it’s worth remembering George Orwell’s thoughts on free speech: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear?”
Long may it continue . . . For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Pub and GAA club visits on the agenda for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Stephen Corrigan

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Two senior members of the British Royal Family are to visit Galway next month – with preparations already underway to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the city in March.

Gardaí issued notice yesterday (Thursday) morning that a number of streets in the city are to be closed on March 5. Coinciding with the already announced visit of ‘Kate and Wills’ to Ireland, this caused widespread speculation that the royal pair would cross the Shannon as part of their visit.

While Gardaí and Galway City Council refused to confirm or deny the speculation yesterday, the Galway City Tribune understands that Kate and William will spend the day in Galway, and will visit Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard Street – as well as calling in on Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA club.

The Garda notice issued yesterday alerts locals that Williamsgate Street, William Street, Shop Street, High Street, Mainguard Street and possibly Abbeygate Street will all be closed between 6am and 2pm on March 5 – making way for the large security operation required for a royal visit.

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

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Election 2020

Labour fails to make up ground

Stephen Corrigan

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Galway West Labour Party candidate Niall McNelis and his wife Aideen at the Galway West count centre on Monday morning.

On the canvass three weeks ahead of the election, Cllr Níall McNelis told the Galway City Tribune he believed Labour’s time “on the bold step” had come to an end.

But as soon as ballot boxes were opened on Sunday morning, it became apparent that wasn’t the case. In fact, the first preference vote share for Labour in Michael D Higgins’ former constituency had decreased to just 3% – a further decline from the 5% Derek Nolan managed in 2016.

Labour’s hammering wasn’t contained to Galway and it’s clear they haven’t been forgiven for their time in Government with Fine Gael. Nonetheless, Cllr McNelis said he was “devastated” by the result when he visited the count centre on Monday morning.

He’d been eliminated on the fourth count the day before, having received 1,548 first preferences.

“I was at home yesterday – I was devastated, gutted, but I know it’s not personal. The party is in trouble and we’re going to have to look at that. The unions have left us and they’re voting for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Fine Gael. That was our core vote; we were a workers’ party once upon a time.

“We were the party that fought for marriage equality long before anybody else – the SocDems have taken that mantel off us; the repeal of the 8th Amendment, we were the ones who fought for that,” said Cllr McNelis.

“The Left vote is very, very crowded here in Galway so [Labour is] going to have to regroup and reorganise. I have to explain what Níall does a bit more. The result that we got, people have been ringing me and saying, ‘Níall, we’re sorry, it was Labour and not Níall’.”

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

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Moloney and Parsons grab vital tries for Ireland in Six Nations victory

Keith Kelly

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Kilconly native and Irish prop Cliodhna Moloney leading this charge against Wales during Sunday's Six Nations clash at Energia Park. Moloney and her fellow Galwegian Beibhinn Parson both scored tries in the home team's 31-12 victory.

IRELAND’S women’s side has opened its Six Nations campaign with back-to-back wins, with two Galwegians to the fore in their 31-12 victory over Wales in horrific weather conditions in Dublin last Sunday.

Having began the campaign with an 18-14 success against Scotland, Adam Grigg’s side made it two wins from two when seeing off the Welsh challenge thanks in no small part to tries in the second successive game from both Ballinasloe’s Beibhinn Parsons, and Cliodhna Moloney from Kilconly, near Tuam.

Parsons received huge plaudits for a sensational try against Scotland on the opening weekend of the championship, her length-of-field solo effort helping Ireland to a narrow win. She crossed the whitewash for a second successive game last weekend, and while it wasn’t quite the lung-bursting length-of-pitch effort from the Scotland game, it was another excellent execution by the Leaving Cert student.

Welsh scrum-half Keira Bevans launched a box-kick from just outside her 22 that held up in the wind. The ball bounced once before Parsons gathered possession on the left wing, broke through one tackle, and side-stepped two more before touching down to give Ireland a 5-0 lead in the 17th minute.

“She’s phenomenal,” said Griggs after the game. “You try and help her with her game understanding and her skill level, but the x-factor that she brings is all her.

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

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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