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Election 2020

Arts in focus at hustings

Stephen Corrigan

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Catherine Connolly TD: "Arts are a necessity, not a luxury."

Candidates for Galway West were taken to task this week at a hustings organised by the National Campaign for the Arts – with the poor financial situation of many artists and the governance of arts organisations dominating discussions.

Six of the 15 candidates vying for votes in Saturday’s election turned up in a bid to win over the arts community – Joe Loughnane (PBP); Conor Burke (Solidarity); Niall Ó Tuathail (SD); Catherine Connolly TD (Ind); Cllr Pauline O’Reilly (Green); and Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab). Apologies were sent from Hildegarde Naughton TD (FG) and Éamon Ó Cuív TD (FF) sent a representative on his behalf.

Renowned writer and performer Little John Nee said while there was a reluctance to talk about poverty, many artists were well below the breadline and struggling to make a living – teetering on the brink of homelessness, having to survive on a poor diet, and their mental health was suffering as a result.

“It behoves [politicians] to speak out on behalf of poor artists,” he said, adding that artists were “ashamed” at earning less than €10,000 per year in many cases.

Deputy Catherine Connolly said the arts played a huge role in improving people’s happiness, pointing to a London School of Economics report which highlighted that four of the top six things that made people happy were arts related.

“I have no problem endorsing the message here today,” said Deputy Connolly. “Arts are a necessity, not a luxury”.

Cllr O’Reilly said good governance was key to ensuring the arts prospered. She raised concerns over the way in which an additional €2.5 million in Council funding had been sought for Galway 2020 last week – particularly as there had been no indication if this funding would go to artists directly.

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.

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.

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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Election 2020

Down but not out – Crowe considering Seanad bid

Dara Bradley

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Seanad bid: Galway West Fianna Fáil candidate Ollie Crowe during the count.

When one door closes, another opens. That appeared to be the motto of Ollie Crowe, who bowed out of the race in Galway West on the seventh count.

No sooner had the electorate shut the door on his hopes of taking a second seat for Fianna Fáil, the city councillor was contemplating a bid for a seat in the Upper House of the Oireachtas.

“We just came up short; the national trend affected it in the last couple of days. I was delighted to get 5,200 first preferences in my first time standing for Dáil Éireann. I’m disappointed but I feel overall, I revitalised Fianna Fáil in the city and rebuilt the party.

“I’m honoured and humbled that public representatives have asked me to stand for the Seanad and that’s something we’ll discuss over the coming days and weeks and make a decision on that,” he said.

Cllr Crowe told Galway City Tribune that Fianna Fáil made a mistake supporting Fine Gael in ‘Confidence and Supply’ for four years. “We probably stayed in too long – four years is too long. People wanted change, people spoke for change and we were too aligned with the Government.”

He said that a coalition with Sinn Féin “wouldn’t be my preference”.

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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Election 2020

Party unstuck by a green wave of a different hue

Dara Bradley

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Galway West Green Party candidate Pauline O’Reilly with her daughter Cara (9) after she was eliminated.

Pauline O’Reilly’s biggest supporter, her daughter Caragh, cuddled into the Green Party councillor’s side as she gave an interview to the Galway City Tribune at the count centre on Sunday, after being eliminated on the sixth count in Galway West.

The nine-year-old was by her mother’s side last May as well, when Cllr O’Reilly – and two other Galway councillors, Martina O’Connor and Alastair McKinstry – was elected in the local elections on the back of a ‘Green wave’.

Less than a year later, and ger Dáil bid came unstuck by another green wave – green of a Republican tinge.

She was tipped by many political pundits and rival candidates, as the likely beneficiary if Galway West returned two ‘left’ seats. And a TG4 constituency poll the week before voters cast their ballots, confirmed Cllr O’Reilly was bang in contention. But then came the surge for Sinn Féin, which her supporters felt on the doorsteps.

“We knew a week out that I was in trouble; I felt in the last couple of days support had shifted back a bit. I wasn’t shocked when I saw the tallies because I was feeling the worry a week ago and I knew it hadn’t come back sufficiently. Certainly, a lot of younger people, children and teens, were upset at the lack of conversation about climate and the environment but it just wasn’t coming up strongly enough with adults,” she said.

Cllr O’Reilly took 6% of the vote with 3,650 first preferences, an increase of 3.5% compared with Seamus Sheridan in 2016, but she was swamped by Sinn Féin’s rise.

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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