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CITY TRIBUNE

City councillors put brakes on Galway 2020 funding increase

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Preparations continue this week at South Park for the Galway 2020 opening ceremony.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Efforts to pump an additional €2.5 million of public funds into Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture met a stumbling block this week – after city councillors voted to defer a decision amid claims of a lack of clarity around the purpose of the money.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, asked councillors to release €2.5 million in funding immediately to Galway 2020, and it would be paid for with €1.25m coming out of the Council’s budget in 2021 and 2022.

To improve Galway 2020’s cashflow situation, he also wanted them to vote to change the Service Level Agreement between the Council and Galway 2020, to front-load money the Council had already pledged to the organisation.

But the special meeting of the local authority – which was a single item agenda – ended on Monday without agreement on the funding, as confusion reigned over what it would be used for.

It only emerged midway through the meeting that €600,000 of the €2.5 million was for wages and salaries of staff who had been seconded from the City Council to Galway 2020 – and the suggestion from Mr McGrath was that some of that €600,000, which hadn’t yet been sanctioned by elected members, had already been spent on staff costs in Galway 2020.

Although a number of councillors indicated they would support the grant aid, most elected members expressed reservations about the plan and the lack of detail they were presented.

Before confirming some of it was for staff costs, Mr McGrath initially said the money would be used for “additionality” and “additional” projects above and beyond what is already committed in the programme of events published by Galway 2020.

However, councillors were not satisfied with the level of detail provided about the projects that are to be added – and many of them questioned whether the projects were new at all.

Mr McGrath said the new money would be for new programming and events that would greatly enhance the overall offering of Galway 2020. And he insisted that the existing programme – costing €39.1 million – was “fully funded” and would proceed as planned whether or not councillors approved the extra €2.5m.

This assertion was disputed by a number of elected members, however – and it was undermined by figures relayed to the meeting by Patricia Philbin, CEO of Galway 2020, the company tasked to deliver the year-long cultural celebration.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council pays €120k to orange bollards’ company

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For a while, the joke was that just like Londoners with rats, people in Galway were never more than two feet away from an orange bollard. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Do you remember last year, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Government fired a heap of cash at local authorities to do stuff – any stuff – under the general guise of ‘mobility’?

And then do you remember, we all tentatively emerged from our cocoons and discovered the city centre had been overrun by a new species, the orange bollard?

The running joke for some time locally was that – just like rats in London – in Galway you’re never more than two feet away from an orange bollard.

Yeah, well, the company that supplied Galway City Council with those gaudy orange bollards was paid over €120,000 for transport equipment during the pandemic.

Not all of it was spent on bollards that are so bright they can, like the Great Wall of China, be seen from space. But a fair chunk of it was.

According to records released to Galway City Tribune, under Freedom of Information (FOI), the Council made dozens of payments to Drogheda-based IPL Group Ltd between February 2020 and May 2021.

The amount paid to IPL Group during that time totalled over €120,000. Records indicate that as much as €67,510 of this outlay was on bollards, including semi-permanent orange ones.

A little over €30,000 was spent by the Council in May and June 2020, as we emerged from lockdown; including thousands on orange and white, and black and white, road flexi-bollards with reflective tape.

In July, it spent €12,000 on black and white quick-flex bollards; and in September, it ordered more orange, and black and white bollards to the value of €18,000. Last February, the records show, the Council spent a further €6,500 on more orange and white bollards with reflective resin tape.

As well as bollards, over €50,000 was spent with IPL Group on speed ramps, pole-retention sockets and plugs, and Weebol Flex signs, a bollard variation.

We don’t know how many bollards the Council bought off IPL, nor do we know the price per bollard.

The City Council said: “The unit price of each item was redacted. This is because the cost of the items will be known to competitors, and they may contain discounts from the supplier to Galway City Council. Disclosure of this unit price may jeopardise the competitive position of the supplier in that they may be undercut in future tender competitions by competitors as they will know what they charged for these items to Galway City Council.

“Furthermore, the release of this information may reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct or outcome of contractual or other negotiations of the supplier to whom the information relates. Release of records describing a possible discount to Galway City Council may affect any negotiation with another consumer or purchaser.

“The number of units procured per item was also redacted, as it may be the case that the total price may be divided by the number of units procured and may give an indication of unit price.”

Aside from the nonsense that the City Council won’t reveal the price per bollard for fear its supplier is undercut – and by extension it and the ratepayer might get cheaper bollards – was it money well spent?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tommy Tiernan among acts in Róisín Dubh comedy line-up

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Tommy Tiernan: Chat show host, actor and, above all, comedian.

Tommy Tiernan will perform his brand-new show, Tomfoolery, in Leisureland on Thursday and Friday, February 25 and 26.

The show, being presented by the Róisín Dubh, is billed as “a high-energy mix of outrageous ideas and whimsical flights of fancy”.

Comedian, actor and, more recently, chat-show host Tommy is performing a series of warm-up gigs in the Róisín in January  for the main event – they sold out within minutes of going on sale last week.

In a comedy career spanning 25 years, Tommy has toured extensively at home and abroad, and guested on top TV shows including three appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in the US. He’s also has had his own one-hour special broadcast on Comedy Central USA. More recently, Tommy has begun presenting a talk show on RTÉ, an improvised live programme where he has no idea of who his guests are until they appear on set. And he’s a better chat-show host than anyone else in this country, by a country mile. But it’ll be comedy that he’ll be focusing on in Leisureland on February 25 and 26. Tickets for those shows are €35.

The Róisín is on a comedy roll and will present Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience in April at the Galmont Hotel.

This version of Basil, Sybil and Manuel from Australia’s Interactive Theatre has played more than 500 sell-out shows in Ireland in the past decade – 20 of them in Galway City. Some of the show’s scenes will be familiar from TV, some will be off-the-cuff but all will have a ‘Faulty’ seasoning. Everything that can go wrong, does in this two hours of “controlled chaos and hilarity” where dinner is part of the act.

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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