When Eamon de Valera was in Lincoln Prison during the War of Independence, his election team came up with a fantastic slogan for the parliamentary elections. It ran: “Put Dev in to get him out”.
And you don’t need me to tell you that popular sentiment at the time was overwhelmingly behind de Valera and his colleagues.
Following his recent arrest, you wonder how well such an electoral strategy would work for Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein. For sure, in the strongholds of the North and the border and among working class areas it will do nothing but bolster the party’s support.
But the reaction elsewhere will be telling. If it boosts Sinn Féin’s support, or does not affect it one way or the other, it means that the party has crossed an important acceptability threshold… that people know all about its terrible past but don’t really care enough, or no longer see it as a factor.
The killing of Jean McConville was heinous. But the attitude may be that that was then (a long time ago) and this is now and Sinn Féin is now as shiny and bright as Gerry’s famous choppers.
It’s too early to gauge how it’s all going to play with the electorate. And besides, opinion polls (and we all use them as if they are political oxygen) are much more inaccurate when it comes to polling individual constituencies (as opposed to the entire country).
That’s because they use much smaller samples (500 people as opposed to 1,000) and that makes the margin of error larger.
And it explains, to some degree, the huge inconsistencies between the Millward Brown poll for the Independent and the Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post a week later.
One had Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne at 16 per cent in Midlands North West and the other had him at seven or eight per cent.
Similarly Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan in Dublin was 20 per cent in the Millward Brown poll but only 14 per cent in the Red C one. Nessa Childers support in Dublin halved from 20 per cent to ten per cent in the space of a week.
There’s still a lot of jostling going on. European elections are second-tier elections and are considered by the electorate as mid-term, or not vital.
Thus voting and candidate choice can be impetuous – they can be reduced to beauty contests with big swings and fluctuations of support. As the actual results show in each election, some parties (Greens, Labour and Sinn Féin) have tended to have their support overstated in the election and some (Fianna Fáil last time) are understated. Labour is certainly not being overstated in the polls right now.
So if we were to rework that Dev slogan, it might read something unwieldy like this for Sinn Féin: Put him in to not them in.
And the ‘them’ in this case are Sinn Féin candidates.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway to receive €1million in outdoor recreational funding
Taste of Galway at ‘Flavours of Ireland’
Some 60 tourism companies from Ireland attended ‘Flavours of Ireland’ 2022 in London last week – including Connemara Wild Escapes, DK Connemara Oysters and Killary Fjord Boat Tours.
‘Flavours’ is Tourism Ireland’s annual B2B tourism workshop, where tourism companies from Ireland meet and do business with top global inbound tour operators.
Now in its 20th year, ‘Flavours’ took place in the Guildhall, in the City of London, and was attended by around 100 global inbound tour operators who deliver business from all over the world, including the United States, Mainland Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa.
‘Flavours’ provides an excellent opportunity for the participating tourism providers from Galway and Ireland to highlight and sell their tourism product and build valuable relationships with the key decision-makers in attendance.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Planning Regulator wants Galway City Council U-turn on Development Plan
From the Galway City Tribune – The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has asked Galway City Council to roll back material alterations to the new City Development Plan proposed by councillors.
In July, elected members voted through a raft of changes to zonings in the Draft City Development Plan 2023-29, which went out on public display.
But the Planning Regulator has now warned City Hall that many of the proposed changes do not comply with the OPR’s recommendations, and are contrary to national planning guidelines.
The OPR specifically highlighted problems with proposals to rezone as residential land deemed at risk of flooding.
Anne Marie O’Connor, Deputy Regulator, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department outlining the OPR’s fresh advice on the changes to the draft plan proposed and approved by councillors.
The draft plan will come before elected members again this month.
Councillors will be asked to row back on some of their previous material alterations, which ran contrary to advice of the OPR.
Ms O’Connor said the OPR welcomed many of the changes made by the City Council in its draft plan. She said, however, that the OPR “has a number of outstanding concerns relating to the response of the planning authority to its recommendations and to a number of proposed material alterations relating to the zoning of lands”.
These relate to changes that conflict with national and regional objectives for compact growth; with legislative requirements regarding climate action and core strategies; and with rezoning land at risk of flooding.
The OPR highlighted a dozen or more material alterations by councillors that are “not consistent” with the National Planning Framework for compact growth.
These include re-zoning of land from agricultural or recreational and amenity to residential.
The changes voted on by councillors, the OPR noted, were done against the advice of the Council’s Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
The OPR said the changes proposed by councillors represented a “piecemeal approach” to zoning and were “inconsistent” with national policy.
These comments related to proposed rezoning of land at Rahoon; Dublin Road; Quarry Road, Menlo; Ballindooley; off Circular Road; Menlo village; Roscam and Barna Woods.
The OPR also raised “significant concerns” over five material alterations proposed for residential zonings of land at Western Distributor Road; Terryland; Menlo Village; Headford Road and Barna Woods which are located within flood zones.
The approach by councillors “may place people and property at unnecessary risk from future flood events”, the OPR warned.
Ms O’Connor told planners that if the draft plan ignores the OPR advice or is at odds with its recommendations, the Council Chief Executive must inform the OPR in writing the reasons for doing so.
Save Roscam Peninsula in a 33-page submission to the draft plan echoed many of the concerns outlined by the OPR.
The Council has pencilled in four dates in November and December to approve the plan.
It will meet on November 21, 24 and 28 and December 1 when material alterations will be voted on individually.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, November 4. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.