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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors’ Christmas cheer after vote to top up expenses

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

It’s only the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend but there was a certain amount of Christmas cheer evident at City Hall last Monday.
A vote was unanimously passed to give city businesses a grant of €150,000 to put on “an iconic festive light and colour experience” this December.

The proposal includes new decorations, lights and projections onto well-known buildings, and is all part of traders’ ambitious plans to make Galway the “Christmas Capital of Ireland”.
And city councillors were giddy with excitement to get the good news out there, immediately.
Like children running to their parents’ bedroom on Christmas morning to tell them what Daidí na Nollag had left under the tree, several elected members took to social media to inform followers how instrumental they were in safeguarding the grant. Insecure much?
Meanwhile, we suspect the cause of the jovial spirits at Monday’s City Council meeting had more to do with councillors voting to top-up their allowance and expense budget.
Funnily enough, not one of them rushed to Facebook and Twitter to inform your good selves about this early Christmas present they gifted themselves.
Indeed, Cllr Mike Crowe (FF), with tongue firmly in cheek, said what the rest of his colleagues were thinking – he joked to Chief Executive Brendan McGrath that they would prefer not to discuss the top-up “until the press go!”
So, here’s what they don’t want you to know. Under the current rules, each councillor has an annual budget of €3,722.50 for conferences, seminars and approved training. That breaks down as €3,022 for training, plus €700 for attendance at conferences and events.
Not all members use this. Some wish to exceed it. Any councillor who wants to exceed the allocation, may request to take a portion of another councillor’s allocation. The problem was, many councillors who don’t use it, are unwilling to give the extra lolly to their rivals.
On Monday, they voted to increase the €3,722.50 to €4,500 per councillor per year. A nice round figure, you’ll agree. And an increase of €777.50 or 21%. Not bad if you can get it.
They justified this by arguing there is “generally unused monies” leftover in the overall conference/seminar/training budget.
But as Cllr Collette Connolly (Ind) pointed out, if all 18 elected members did use their full allocation, then the Council would have to eat into its budget for other services to cover the overrun.
The vote to increase allowances by 21% simply rubberstamped a report from the Council’s procedure’s committee. The committee surprise, surprise, is made up of councillors. Have they ever recommended a cut to allowances?
Don’t be ridiculous – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
Money for jam
Not content with increasing the yearly individual budget for training, seminars and conferences by 21% to €4,500, city councillors also agreed to pay themselves an additional €1,000.
This extra stipend is an allowance payable for membership of ‘Area Committees’.
Chief Executive of the City Council Brendan McGrath said it will only be paid “once a meeting has taken place in the areas”.
And so, councillors resolved on Monday to meet in their areas – City West, City Central and City East – ASAP.
We all look forward to reading the minutes of those “area meetings” that will cost ratepayers/taxpayers an additional €18,000 per annum.
The boom is back, and it’s getting boomier!

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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