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The art of moaning even about glorious summer sunshine

Francis Farragher

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tenerife

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Being of a generation where the nearest one came as a child to a real summer holiday was the sponsored 15 minute morning programme on Radio Eireann, there is still the cousin of a guilty feeling about taking off for a week or so in the sun.

It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does, the words of the old Cliff Richard hit take a ramble through the remaining working strands of the brain: ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday, No more working for a week or two, Fun and laughter on our summer holiday, No more worries for me or you, For a week or two.’

The prospect of a few days in the sun is always pleasing to the mind’s eye, especially if we’ve been through a winter and spring barrage of wind and rain, although for my sins after about three days under that great globe in the sky, a certain amount of desperation always seems to set in.

As much and all as we nag and complain about Irish weather, the roughly 50 inches of rain that falls on our landmass during the course of any given year, does give us the most lush and fruitful of landscapes.

More than a couple of decades back, a few years after the traditional Isle of Man honeymoon, a trip to the sunny climes of Cyprus seemed to offer all the prospects of a serene time of blissful happiness.

However after day two of lounging around a swimming pool, with nothing to do, the penny dropped that the great dream of doing nothing under a warm sun, was not really all it was cracked up to be.

A tour of the local landscape did little to cure my woes – arid and baked countryside with barely a green perch to be spotted anywhere, apart from the odd irrigated patch.

How a meteorological service can survive in a place like Tenerife is slightly baffling. True the odd bit of cloud interrupts the glare of the sun on days here and there – a very welcome relief – while on a handful of days through the year, some rainfall does actually fall.

Such a scenario would be an unequivocal disaster for the thousands of customers who populate our taverns during the various weeks of the year. In Ireland, a dispute – well maybe just a friendly argument – can often develop between any three individuals at the bar counter over what the weather will be like over the next three days.

Even a trawl through the main national and international forecasters can throw up conflicting predictions for countries like Ireland and the UK, that are largely at the mercy of unpredictable Atlantic weather systems.

CITY TRIBUNE

Trying to keep up with Zoom Council meeting

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Monday’s Galway City Council meeting, which took place on the video conferencing app, Zoom, was to last no more than one hour and 55 minutes.

Even though it was a remote meeting, three participants shared a room for it.

Mayor Mike Cubbard, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, and Meetings Administrator, Gary McMahon, sat socially distanced in the Council Chamber at City Hall. Elected members, other staff and media tuned in remotely from their homes.

“Thank you, Mayor, just trying to keep up,” said a breathless Gary McMahon about two-and-a-half hours into the supposed two-hour meeting.

The delayed response was to a query from Mayor Mike as to whether Gary was okay. Moments of excruciating dead air filled the Zoom call before the reply came.

Gary wasn’t the only one finding it difficult to keep up, in fairness. But there were mitigating circumstances.

He was one of the three amigos – along with Mayor Mike and Brendan – in the same room, when it was informally agreed to extend the meeting beyond 115 minutes.

For his own safety and to comply with Covid-19 public health guidelines on social distancing, Gary left the Chamber, and dashed upstairs to his office to facilitate the remainder of the meeting. Mayor Mike stayed put and Brendan retired to his office.

After 15 minutes’ recess, with all three men marked safe and Zooming in from separate rooms, the meeting resumed, and it was easy to see why Gary McMahon was flummoxed.

Firstly, he’d forgotten to bring his rule book of Standing Orders upstairs with him. And elected members weren’t exactly helping either, with contradictory voting on whether to formally proceed with the meeting they had already informally agreed should proceed, in order to vote on whether it should proceed proper.

Before the break, Martina O’Connor (Green), called for the meeting to be stopped and adjourned until next Monday. Collette Connolly (Ind) agreed; the 115 minutes was up. John Connolly (FF) said okay but only if it went ahead in Leisureland, not on Zoom.

If three people could socially distance in a room to facilitate a Zoom call, 18 councillors plus staff could socially distance in a room that normally holds hundreds, he argued.

Brendan McGrath said the HSE advice was that physical meetings should not happen during lockdown and at a time when the UK variant was spreading fast.

Noel Larkin (Ind) wanted to keep going on Monday. John Connolly supported him.

The 115-minute time limit had passed when a vote was called. Gary McMahon said it couldn’t be taken because, by then, they were well over the health and safety time-limit for meetings. They adjourned.

On resumption, they voted on Larkin’s amendment to keep going. Twelve for; five against. The amendment carried and became the substantive motion, and they voted again on it. This time it passed 15 to one (Collette). Mike Crowe (FF), who voted against the first time, had left. Donal Lyons (Ind), Martina and her fellow Green Niall Murphy voted for the meeting to proceed, even though seconds earlier they had voted against it proceeding.

Confused? Finding it hard to keep up? Now you know how the Meetings Administrator felt.

(Photo: Meetings Administrator Gary McMahon)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Decentralisation finally comes to pass almost two decades on

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Remote working...a reality at last.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Back in December 2003, Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy pulled off what looked like a sensational coup when he turned his Budget speech into a dramatic announcement on decentralisation.

McCreevy announced he was going to move the headquarters of most Government departments and some agencies out of Dublin and into the provinces – and with it, 10,300 public employees.

On Budget Day, his fellow Ministers made huge hay about departments and agencies coming to their constituencies.

Tom Parlon, the Offaly TD and OPW Minister at the time, organised posters to be erected all over his constituency proclaiming: “This is Parlon Country”.

The Departments of Defence and An Ghaeltacht both established larger presences in Galway; the OPW moved to Trim, Co Meath; the Department of Arts and Tourism mainly moved to Killarney; and the Road Safety Authority moved to Ballina.

But from early on there was resistance. Public service unions kicked up and demanded relocation money. Many Dublin-based public servants did not want to move, especially among the senior ranks.

There were skill deficits when people left specialist roles in Dublin to move down the country, or when they refused to leave, leaving the Department (now rural-based) without technical staff.

The scheme was a great one, but it was half-baked in that it was sprung on everybody by surprise without thinking through all the consequences.

McCreevy might have been better introducing it more gradually and with more consultation (even though with the public service that can take many years, and drive you to the madhouse).

Still, thousands of public servants were able to move into rural Ireland, into provincial cities and towns because of it.

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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Connacht Tribune

Luckless Kenny needs breaks as Irish football in a bad state

John McIntyre

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny who is still seeking his first win after eight matches in charge.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The past few years have been tough times for Irish football – on and off the field. The FAI, the sport’s beleaguered administrators (or should I say administrator given John Delaney’s long-time staggering grip on power) was something of a basket case as the Association stands rightfully accused of neglecting the game’s grassroots.

On the field, the Republic of Ireland have continued to suffer an unchecked decline in fortunes – highlighted by that 5-1 home humiliation against Denmark in the second leg of the World Cup play-off in November of 2017. They subsequently missed out on qualification for Euro 2020 when losing on penalties to Slovakia last October.

Ireland have plummeted down the world rankings – they are currently trailing in 42nd position, behind the likes of Algeria and Australia, with little prospect of a significant revival in the medium term. Who’d want to be their manager in such circumstances? Unfortunately, Stephen Kenny has drawn the short straw in this regard.

And because the Dubliner is a home-grown boss of the international team, he was never going to be cut the same slack as his immediate predecessors, Martin O’Neill, whose innate tactical conservatism and spikey manner did him no favours towards the end of his reign, and Mick McCarthy, whose latest managerial stint in Cyprus barely lasted a couple of months.

Delaney had conjured up a convoluted succession plan where Kenny would leave his Ireland U20 post to take over from McCarthy after the Euro qualifiers, but Covid intervened leaving Kenny to salvage the Republic’s campaign. Unfortunately, he can’t buy a break in the job and the pressure is mounting.

The coronavirus disrupted his team selection on several occasions, while injuries were no help either. The bare facts are that Kenny has been in charge of eight matches, but is still seeking his first victory. Furthermore, Ireland have only managed a solitary goal in that time which must be an all-time low.

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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