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CITY TRIBUNE

Conflict aplenty at City Hall but no conflict of interest!

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Independent City Councillor Noel Larkin . . . in the wars but no conflict of interest

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley 

If the ruling rainbow pact was trying to ‘pull a fast one’ at Monday’s City Council meeting, it backfired.
Councillors in the mayoral pact agreed to take non-contentious items 2b and 2c first and then, rather than reverting to 1a, they jumped to 4c, which proved to be very contentious.
Item 4c involved ‘filling of vacancy on a committee or approved body’; aka ‘jobs for the boys’ – or in this case, ‘girls’, too.
The report that was circulated said Noel Larkin (Ind), had resigned from the HSE West Regional Health Forum. And the rainbow pact had decided that Martina O’Connor (Greens) would take his place. It said Martina had resigned from the Joint Policing Committee (JPC); and the pact said Noel would take her place.
Declan McDonnell, Noel’s buddy, proposed the change; Pauline O’Reilly, Martina’s chum, seconded it. All was well with the world, and they could move on . . . or so they thought.
A number of councillors hadn’t even arrived in the chamber (it started at 11am, far earlier than usual, to facilitate elected members who were travelling to Lansdowne Road for Republic of Ireland soccer match) when 4c was discussed.
So, the fact that the pact tried to take it as the third item, even though there were several, more important items ahead of it on the agenda, aroused suspicion of one councillor.
Ollie Crowe (FF) smelt a rat. And he nearly self-combusted sniffing it out.
Ollie is ten and a half years on the Council, and never before has a councillor stepped down so soon (less than six months) after being appointed to a body, and without saying why. “Can we have an explanation why he’s stepping down?” Ollie requested.
Deputy Mayor Donal Lyons, ‘King of Knocknacarra’, said, “anyone can step down; they don’t have to give a reason.”
“Is there a conflict of interest?” asked Ollie, several times. “It’s undermining the role of the Council.” The King said there wasn’t.
“It’s not for you to decide what’s right or wrong,” snapped Ollie. Councillors from the Left and the Right were uniting to make a change to the HSE – that was the “first mistake”, he said. The second was not getting anything in writing from the HSE.
Niall ‘This is Politics’ McNelis (Lab) said the HSE agreed that Nurse Martina, as an HSE employee, could serve on the forum.
Ollie wasn’t satisfied. “Is there a conflict of interest?”, he repeated.
Now Noel ‘The Drone’ Larkin took umbrage, at “aspersions cast on my character”. Ollie replied: “I’m entitled to ask the question.”
“He said ‘he’, he said ‘he’, he’s referring to me,” said Noel.
The King said he, as chair, was “being very fair” to everyone. Noel didn’t agree and went nuclear – proposed a Section 50, a vote to sanction Ollie for “continuous disruption of the meeting”.
The pact left Noel hanging. He wanted a seconder. None was forthcoming.
Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed there was no conflict of interest, but he hadn’t got it in writing from the HSE.
Ollie took his word for it, but still argued it wasn’t “normal procedure” for a person to resign a position without an explanation. He apologised, sort of, if he’d caused offence, which, sort of, placated, Noel.
Before voting (it passed 8-4), eagle-eyed Eddie Hoare (FG), wanted clarity on whether, “in six months’ time they (pact) can just decide to change again? The HSE is a public body, if we’re changing (members) every six months, where are we going?” Where indeed.

For more Bradley Bytes see this week’s Galway City Tribune 

CITY TRIBUNE

Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.


This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events

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From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.


This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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