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All smiles now Ð but vote battle may be only way to sort out FG rivalry

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Date Published: {J}

It was someone in Fine Gael who put it rather well in the past week when asked whether there would be a General Election in the near future. He said it all depended on whether the suspicion and distrust between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in government was greater than their fear of the electorate.

That uneasy feeling between the parties in government has been fuelled in recent weeks as they became accident prone, with the loss of Deirdre de Burca, Willie O’Dea and Trevor Sargent. There are any number of tests to come – including the further recapitalisation of the banks that could stick in the ‘craw’ of some of the Greens. That’s one of the fears among some TDs, though the weekend opinion polls might have served to steady some nerves.

Right now, Fine Gael believe that the fear of the voters is greater, and so Fianna Fáil and the Greens will try to stay in power for as long as possible, pushing the election out to 2012 if they can, with FF hoping that eventually they can avoid the kind of massacre that 27% support would bring – a full seven points behind Fine Gael.

So, maybe it’s on that basis that the earlier urgency about Fine Gael holding a selection convention in Galway East seems to have evaporated in recent weeks. That is despite the convention appearing to be potentially imminent around Christmas time as Fine Gael nationally lined-up any number of constituencies for early conventions – especially ones like Galway East where they had candidate selection problems to resolve.

You see, a few weeks back, quite an amount of early work had been put in train in Fine Gael on the whole business of sorting out precisely who would be on the ticket in four-seater Galway East. It’s a knotty question – with five high-profile contenders for a possible four places on the slate of candidates in a constituency where Fine Gael hold two Dáil seats (Paul Connaughton TD and Ulick Burke TD), and Fianna Fáil have two (Michael Kitt TD and Noel Treacy TD). There is some mad talk of Fine Gael getting a third seat . . . but that’s just looney tunes nonsense.

The Fine Gael strategy in the 2007 General Election – when they got 39.1% of the first preferences compared to Fianna Fáil’s 39.6% – was to have two candidates in the ‘northern end’ of the constituency (Connaughton, Mountbellew, and Councillor Tom McHugh, Tuam) and two in the southern part of the constituency (Burke, Abbey, Loughrea and Dr John Barton, Ballinasloe).

That was before the name Senator Ciaran Cannon – former leader of the PDs and a very new recruit to Fine Gael in Galway East – came into the reckoning.

Now there is a growing feeling in FG ranks in Galway East that a full-scale election battle in the southern end of the constituency may be the only way to sort out the intense rivalry between Burke and Cannon – with both of them getting on the ticket … ‘and the best horse jumping the ditch’ on the day of the election count.

As a Progressive Democrat, Cannon stood in Galway East in the 2007 General Election and got a very creditable 3,300 first preferences. He was assiduously courted by the likes of Frank Flannery and Tom Curran – two of the ‘recruiting sergeants’ of Fine Gael – and passed his first major electoral test in FG when he succeeded in getting his replacement on Galway County Council (Michael ‘Mogie’ Maher), elected to the Council in the June 2009 Local Elections.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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