Date Published: 12-Nov-2009
Suggestions that executives of Údarás na Gaeltachta – the enterprise agency for Connemara and other Gaeltacht areas – racked up a whopping €826,000 in expenses have been flatly denied by the head of the state board.
The allegations were made in a weekend newspaper of executives enjoying luxury travel to the States and Canada during 2007 and 2008 and living it up in the lap of luxury – it was compared in passing to the FAS scandal.
But Údarás have issued a statement to The Connacht Tribune stating that figures quoted in the Sunday tabloid were more than 60% off the mark.
Chief Executive Officer Padraig O hAolain said that they were at a loss where these figures came from and said that the 10 executives had accumulated €309,000 in those two years and nothing like the figure that was quoted in the paper. T
here were allegations that one executive travelled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago in 2007, used business class travel and stayed in luxury hotels during the trip.
Another trip to the states which involved visits to Boston and New York on business class flights cost more than €8,000 amid claims that some of the receipts have gone missing.
It is also alleged that seven trips were made to a seaweed plant in Halifax in Canada by three executives during 2007 and 2008 costing almost €31,000.
The claims also stated that executives’ wives also travelled on some of the trips and some of the receipts claimed for involved a packet of polo mints, a can of cider and crisps.
Mr. O hAolain denied that wives’ expenses were never covered and clarified that the Halifax trips cost €10,500 – and not €30,000 as was reported.
“We are regularly audited by our own internal audit and also by the Comptroller and Auditor General and have always been given a clean bill of health. We run a very open and transparent organisation”, he added.
Údarás board member Cllr. Seamus Walsh said he would be outraged if the executives ran up such an expenses bill when elected members found it difficult to get their basic entitlements.
He said that he had been a member of Údarás na Gaeltachta for the past four and a half years and was appalled by the amount of expenses which had been amassed.
“Last year we, the elected board members, took a 10% cut in our annual allocation, cut back on the number of meetings of the regional board and eliminated four conferences in order to save Údarás money”, he said.
Cllr. Walsh said that he went to a meeting in Kerry last year on behalf of Údarás and was still awaiting basic mileage expenses for this. “It’s a bit rich that the executives of Údarás can live the high life at the taxpayers’ expense”, he added.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Ballinasloe dig deep to book date in Croker
Date Published: 30-Jan-2013
An Port Mor (Armagh) 0-10
CIARAN TIERNEY AT KINGSPAN BREFFNI PARK
The men of Ballinasloe are on their way to Croke Park after overcoming a spirited second half fight-back from 14-man An Port Mor of Armagh in a keenly contested All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday.
Seven points up against a team who had corner forward Christopher Lennon sent off late in the first half, Ballinasloe looked to be cruising to victory at the break – but ultimately they had to dig deep to see off a defiant late challenge from the Ulster champions.
Ultimately, the damage was done in the first half. St Grellan’s produced some fine football in that opening period, two goals from central attackers Padraic Cunningham and Michael Colohan giving them the seven point cushion which made all the difference in the end.
Ballinasloe will have to analyse why they lost their way somewhat in the second period but, led by Man of the Match Darragh McCormack, Paul Whelehan, Liam Lynch, Gary Canavan, and Keith Kelly, they produced some delightful football to cause all sorts of bother in the An Port Mor defence throughout the opening period.
Backed by a huge travelling support from the East Galway town, Sean Riddell’s side enjoyed a dream start as rampant corner forwards McCormack and Whelehan combined to win a free which was comfortably slotted over the bar by Kelly after two minutes.
Even better was to come three minutes later when McCormack brilliantly rounded his man before providing a perfect pass for Whelehan, who was hauled down in the penalty area. Centre forward Padraic Cunningham calmly slotted the spot kick to the bottom left hand corner and they were 1-1 to no score up with five minutes gone.
McCormack and Whelehan combined well again before Canavan set up a good score for midfielder Lynch, but An Port Mor looked to be right back in the game when corner forward Shane Nugent was fouled in the Ballinasloe penalty area with 11 minutes on the clock.
Centre forward David Curran blasted the penalty over the crossbar, however, to the relief of the large Ballinasloe following. Curran provided the next score from a short-range free, following another foul on Nugent, but the Armagh men had to wait until the 30th minute before registering their first point from open play.
Ballinasloe enjoyed a purple patch at this stage, hitting 1-3 without reply, including a brace of points from Whelehan and a well-taken score on the run from Lynch, who dominated the midfield sector.
The Connacht champions produced some sublime moves in the third quarter and could have added a second goal when the superb McCormack had a shot blocked down, after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, following good work by Lynch.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway get job done
Date Published: 04-Feb-2013
IT might seem something like a short term outlook, but really nothing else matters in a first match of the National League, only the result.
Galway went into last Sunday’s Division Two game with Derry in a somewhat reticent mood . . . last year hadn’t ended well, and two weeks previously in Enniscrone, Sligo inflicted another unexpected blow.
The visit of Derry represented a trip into the unknown as the northern side under new manager, Brian McIver, have also embarked on a rebuilding process – never something that tends to deliver early results.
As Galway manager, Alan Mulholland, stood on the heavy sod of Pearse Stadium at around 3.30 last Sunday, he was essentially relieved that his side had come out on the right side of a 1-15 to 0-15 scoreline.
There were no whooping supporters but a small core of fans had gathered in the tunnel to clap Galway off – wins have been scarce enough of late, so when they come, they’re to be enjoyed.
“Yes, there’s no two ways about it, a win was vital for us here today. We have a young team, this is a work in progress, but there really is no substitute for a victory. It is a confidence thing, and we needed that boost,” said Mulholland.
A fortnight previously, he had plenty to chew on as Sligo ground his side down in the FBD league to win by 0-9 to 1-4, with Galway just scoring two points from play in that tie played in Enniscrone.
“We are concerned about our fade out periods in games. In Enniscrone it happened to us over a 60 minute match where we just couldn’t sustain the effort and today we really let Derry back into it, especially in the third quarter.
“It was a strange kind of game in one way, in that both ourselves and Derry played far better football into the wind, but that sometimes happens as teams are more conscious of retaining possession when facing a breeze,” said Mulholland.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.