Date Published: 17-Sep-2009
Vital services provided by Galway County Council will be significantly curtailed and others will cease entirely if the proposed swingeing cutbacks of An Bórd Snip Nua are implemented, the local authority has warned.
The Council has written to An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, this week warning that the recommendations in the McCarthy Report will severely negatively affect the frontline services it provides to people in County Galway.
County Councillors warned that anymore cutbacks in funding to the Council’s Roads and Environment budgets in particular – on top of the draconian budget cutbacks already imposed this year – will result in certain services only being carried out sporadically and others not being carried out at all.
The Council says it has already been to the forefront in limiting staff increases and creating efficiencies. Further cuts to the Local Government fund, which would inevitably impact on staff levels, “would require whole areas of activity to cease,” the letter states.
Although the letter does not detail the areas of service that would be affected, County Councillor Dermot Connolly (SF) says, if more cutbacks are imposed pothole repair, the roads programme and hedge-cutting services – which have already been curtailed with cuts of more than €8.3 million this year – will either cease or be curtailed even more.
A severe winter, coupled with the pummelling the county’s road network has already received through the ongoing construction of the N6 Motorway, will also hamper the Council’s ability to upkeep the roads.
The letter warns that the Council is already stretched and “cannot take more cuts without a significant negative impact on customer service and service delivery which will in turn give rise to other issues”.
In the case of the roads budget cutbacks, the ‘other issues’ are likely to include increases in claims arising from damage to cars due to potholes.
In addition, the letter warns that any cuts in the Environment Fund for the Council would have serious implications for waste management and recycling activities, enforcement initiatives, environment awareness campaign and research initiatives carried out by the Local Authority.
Councillors also said the proposal to amalgamate Galway City Council and Galway County Council was not practical because of the scale of the area and variety of the issues dealt with by both local authorities.
Cllr Connolly says the proposal to abolish Regional Authorities and in particular Town Councils in Tuam, Loughrea and Ballinasloe will erode local democracy. He said a series of steps at outsourcing, rationalising the Council’s activities would be a retrograde step.
The proposal for a reduction of 10% in funding to the Council and a freeze on commercial rates would also have serious financial implications for the Council and the services it provides, he added.
The wider proposals contained in the report – including cutbacks in education, the closing of rural Garda stations, closing of Family Resource Centres, ending of Rural Transport Scheme, abolition of CLÁR and RAPID funding, and the loss of REPS and other farming schemes – would signal the final nail in the coffin for rural Ireland, Councillors argued.
The Bórd Snip recommendations are based on a “narrow financial focus and had no regard to either the wider financial implications or the social consequences of implementing such measures,” the letter states.
The letter was sent to An Taoiseach and copied to the nine government ministers.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.