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Bobby Molloy: his legacy endures in Galway West

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Deputy Robert Molloy speaking to party members at the Ardilaun House Hotel after his selection to run for the Progressive Democrats in Galway West in the General Election in February 2002.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Bobby Molloy left the national political stage 14 years ago. Yet his influence on the political worlds he walked away from did not wane, especially in Galway West.

One of the five seats there, now held by Noel Grealish, is a ‘Bobby’ seat. It was nominally a Progressive Democrats seat while that party existed. But the world and its wife knew that the only reason the PDs claimed that seat was because its incumbent in Galway West happened to be Robert Molloy.

Bobby passed away last weekend at the age of 80 after a long and courageous battle against serious illness. Born and bred in Galway City (he went to the Jes) his political domain extended across the constituency into the heart of Connemara, to the northern reaches of Lough Corrib and even into the Achréidh, the parts east of the city that still formed Galway West.

Molloy was a political colossus, straight-talking, down-to-earth, true to his roots. It is hard to imagine now how meteoric his rise was but most of his 37 year political career was spent at the top, or close to it.

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1965 at the age of 29 and three years later became Mayor of Galway at the age of 32.

On a national level, he made his own political preference known very early on. As far back as 1966 he plumped for George Colley over Charlie Haughey – and that suspicion of Haughey would remain throughout the remainder of his political year.

Years later he said he would have backed Lynch (the eventual winner) but he had signalled he had no interest. In terms of the conflict between Haughey and Colley he had a clear preference, which he relayed many years later.

“Colley was the ideal Fianna Fáil person. He believed in all the aims of the party, the peaceful reunification of the country and had a genuine commitment to the language. He had all the good qualities; he was in the Jack Lynch mould but more so.

“You didn’t ever doubt where he stood in regard to the basic principles of the party. But I suppose he wasn’t devious enough to survive in that milieu.”

Those comments told us a lot about Colley but also a lot about Molloy. He was a fluent Irish speaker, loved the language, and also cleaved to the traditional values of Fianna Fail which he felt the likes of Haughey had manipulated and betrayed.

When Haughey, Kevin Boland and Neil Blaney were sacked from Cabinet in 1970, Molloy was promoted and served as Minister for Local Government. He was just 34 and served in the position for three years. When Fianna Fáil returned to power in 1977 (in a landslide) he became Minister for Defence.

But despite the Lynch-Colley axis being in the ascendancy, there was no doubt that Haughey was beginning to muster his forces in preparation for a challenge.

Despite that, Colley was not prepared when Lynch suddenly stepped down in 1979. Molloy later told journalist Stephen Collins: “I didn’t know Jack Lynch was going to resign. In fact, it was Charlie Haughey who told me and asked for my support.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Corporation Tax provides cash for Budget giveaway

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe: "the needs of the people are significant".

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I have seen some extraordinary budgets in my time. There were the giveaway budgets (Fianna Fáil 2001 and again in 2007) just before general elections.

There were the Covid budgets that allowed enough cash to pay everybody still in a job and pay everybody who was out of a job.

There were the hair shirt budgets (from 2008 to 2014) when the country was going down the tubes.

And there was Charlie McCreevy’s infamous decentralisation budget which was a great idea but a lousy way to go about it.

This week’s Budget fitted snugly into that category of out-of-the ordinary. In addition to a whopping €6.9 billion of additional funding in the Budget itself, there was an estimated €4.1bn extra in once-off spending in the cost-of-living package. So that’s €11 billion in spending altogether on Tuesday. It’s a big chunk of change in anybody’s language.

It was pure auction politics. First the Government said it would put an additional €1 billion in the once-off package, then it said it would put €2 billion into it, then we heard rumours of €3 billion and now it’s topped €4bn. Of course, the auction was joined into by the Opposition. They have all proposed packages that will involve considerably more spending than the Government’s Euromillions. Sinn Fein is at €13.5 billion. God knows what People Before Profit proposes to spend (it’s not easy to quantify) but its stratospheric. At least its message of spending everything we have got, nationalising everything we have got, is consistent.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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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.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Prodigal son Bertie could be set for return to the fold

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Bertie Ahern speaking at the announcement of the Good Friday Agreement.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I’d actually forgotten that Bertie Ahern wasn’t a member of Fianna Fáil until the issue was brought up at the parliamentary party meeting of TDs and senators last week.

He was in Coventry or Purdah – or wherever politicians with a whiff of scandal around them are put – for a number of years but he’s been back at the centre of the political and public stage for so long now, you begin to forget that he was ever away.

And so last week, Donegal senator Niall Blaney stood up and addressed his colleagues right at the end of the meeting. He said 2023 would mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The party needed to put its best foot forward to commemorate it.

Out of the blue, he then said that should include welcoming Bertie Ahern back into the party fold. He called on the party to act in “a spirit of inclusivity”.

It was one of those moments that Conamara people have a great expression for. ‘Tháinig sé Aniar Aduaidh orainn’ (it surprised us from the North West).

It had not been on the meeting agenda but now it was very much on the party’s agenda. Others piped up. Offaly TD Barry Cowen said that the time had come to readmit Ahern to Fianna Fáil. Over the next 24 hours colleagues joined in, saying a lot of water had flown under the bridge since a decade ago.

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

Sinn Féin still to learn that populism comes at a price

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald meets up with US speaker Nancy Pelosi on her American tour last week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The Dáil kicked off again yesterday with the usual circus of press conferences, tetchy exchanges in the chamber and protests outside the gate. The first private members motion was tabled by the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, putting forward its own measures to assist with household bills.

Its main suggestion is to boot out this government and put Mary Lou McDonald in.

The regional group is next in line with a private members motion on Thursday. Surprise, surprise, it’s about the security of electricity supply.

The usual pre-Dáil niceties have now been dispensed with. All the political parties held parliamentary away days – or think-ins as they have been dubbed. I’m sure policy and strategy is discussed at some of them but the name of the game is to get your name up in lights before the Oireachtas kicks off.

As night follows day, it will only be a matter of days before the first no-confidence motion is tabled against a Government Minister. Given the huge price hikes in electricity and gas bills, it could be Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan who finds himself in the crosshairs of the opposition parties.

Then there’s the legislative programme. At the start of each new term, the Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers releases a list of about 40 Bills that are earmarked for publication before the session comes to an end. Getting half of them published would represent an exceptionally good performance.

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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