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Bradley Bytes

Councillors’ Christmas cheer: ‘You scumbag, you liar, you …’

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Town Crier Liam Silke spreads some Christmas cheer at the switching-on of the city's Christmas lights last month. There was shouting of a very different kind at the recent City Council meeting, where Chirstmas cheer was in short supply.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Christmas is the season of goodwill to all men but it is in short supply at City Hall. Galway City Councillors were pricklier than your average holly bush at the end-of-year meeting as sores were picked to settle old scores before they headed off battered and bloodied for the festive break.

Peace on Earth quickly turned to ‘I’ll give you a piece of my mind’ as councillors kept with the unseemly not-just-for-Christmas tradition of making a holy show of themselves . . . and this was before any alcohol was consumed at annual mayor’s Yuletide bash.

Elected members couldn’t even get through the minutes of the previous two meetings without a good old fashioned bun fight.

Pádraig Conneely (FG), never one to shy away from confrontation, was first to lob a mince pie in the direction of Michael John Crowe (FF).

Regular readers will recall that PC and MJ were never ‘besties’ to begin with but their relationship plunged to new depths in 2015 when the latter called the former a ‘scumbag’ in an email.

We won’t bore you with rehashing the details – Pádraig has done enough of that every opportunity he gets – but the indications were that the matter had been resolved.

MJ had, as requested by the ‘offended’ party, written another email retracting the scumbag remark, and expressing regret for having made it.

That, everyone thought, was that. But Pádraig couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie, and decided instead to give the canine a good kicking, just as the controversy appeared to be dying down.

Pádraig, with the enthusiastic energy of a boy that had just got a new train set off Santa, was bursting to tell the meeting of MJ’s retraction. His gleeful gloating set the tone of the one-upmanship that followed, as giddy councillors behaved like they were audtioning for the lead part in the Renmore Panto.

Pearce and Catherine’s Christmas crackers

And while MJ didn’t take the bait, and showed remarkable restraint in not responding, the same can’t be said of Catherine Connolly (Ind), who tried in vain to bite her lip after Pearce Flannery (FG) launched a blistering attack.

Still discussing minutes, Pearce ‘take no prisoners’ Flannery was in combative mode.

Apparently at the previous meeting, he accused Catherine of leaving a public meeting early. This was disputed by Catherine, and her version had been verified by Donal Lyons (Ind). She had demanded an apology from Pearce.

Pearce told the latest Council meeting that on reflection “and in the cold light of day” an apology was in order.

Catherine nearly fell off her seat – for a split second it seemed Pearce was actually going to say the hardest word: ‘sorry’.

But the businessman had lulled her into a false sense of security and then hit Catherine with the charge that it was her who owed him the apology, not the other way round.

Pearce said he had checked his facts again, and his original accusation stood. “An apology is owing from you to me,” he snorted, with all the gusto of Shane McGowan in Fairytale of New York.

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

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Classy Clodagh will need to know her ABCs when she takes mayoral chains

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Councillors will resume deliberations on the City Draft Development Plan in June. And if the recently-agreed County Development Plan is anything to go by, Mayor in Waiting (MIW) Clodagh Higgins will need to have her ABCs in order to deal with the baptism of fire awaiting her.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway City Councillors will resume deliberations on the Draft City Development Plan in June, which means two things: long meetings and an even longer list of abbreviations.

The former is a given when rezoning of land is at play; the latter is also likely if the City Plan mirrors the recently-agreed County Development Plan which contained an alphabet soup of shortened phrases.

From ABTA (Area Based Transport Assessment) to MASP (Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan), NWSMP (National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan) to GCTPS (Galway County Transport and Planning Study), and GCMA (Galway County Metropolitan Area) to UFP (Urban Framework Plan) to name but a few, County Councillors were bombarded with shorthand as they compiled a new Development Plan.

And that’s before you mention the myriad of organisations OPR (Office of Planning Regulator), OPW (Office of Public Works), NTA (National Transport Authority), TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) who were making submissions about MAs (Material Alterations), WWTP (Waste Water Treatment Plants), LAPs (Local Area Plans), and LTP (Local Transport Plans) etcetera.

County Councillors needed qualifications in abbreviations and gobbledegook just to keep up with it all; many are now suffering a sort of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the DTs (Delirium Tremens) or AWD (Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium) since they finalised the plan, but that’s all due to withdrawal from abbreviations rather than alcohol.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Apology means invite ‘snub’ is water under the bridge!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

As apologies go, this was fairly grovelling. An admission, too, that all is not well in the corridors of power at City Hall.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, this week wrote an apology to councillors, who felt snubbed for not being invited to a sod-turning event in the city. Though he took full responsibility, he also confirmed that staff turnover at College Road contributed to the error.

Here’s the low-down. On Tuesday, April 26, Minister Hildegarde Naughton, with shovel in hand for the cameras, officially turned the sod to signify construction was beginning on the new Salmon Weir pedestrian bridge. The City Council was a part-funder of the project, but Councillors were not invited to the ceremony; a big break in tradition.

It’s the custom that the democratically elected representatives of the people are invited to the opening of envelopes. Sod-turnings are big business in the world of local politics and to snub councillors, by not inviting them, is akin to heresy in this game.

Procedure committee meeting minutes show that former Mayor, Frank Fahy (FG), chair of the Council’s Transport Strategic Policy Committee, requested an apology for not getting invited to the bridge bash. And McGrath duly obliged.

“I apologise to you that you were not invited to the event,” Brendan began. “I also apologise to all city councillors who did not receive an invitation. All councillors should have received an invitation to the sod-turning. I apologise for any annoyance that the omission, for which I take full responsibility, may have caused to you and other members of the City Council.”

The CE blamed Covid-19 and “significant turnover in staff” for “an outflow of corporate memory regarding events”.

Sod-turnings haven’t happened since before Covid-19, he said. And the Council hasn’t updated its procedures around such events since Covid-19. “As a direct consequence of staff turnover and the lack of an updated written procedure, councillors, erroneously, were not informed of the event.”

Offering again his “sincere apologies and regret for the omission”, he promised that “where such events take place in the future, councillors will be informed and will be invited to attend”.

The apology means the Salmon Weir saga is now water under the bridge. But some councillors remain miffed about another, separate snub. Elected members claimed not to have been invited to the unveiling of Patricia Forde’s poetry plaque on Church Lane/Market Street during the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April.

They’re still waiting for the Council to say ‘sorry’ for that, ahem, oversight.

(Photo: Minister Hildegarde Naughton TD with City CE Brendan McGrath as she turned the sod on the Salmon Weir pedestrian bridge. The CE subsequently wrote to the chair of the Council’s Transport SPC Frank Fahy as he, along with other councillors, had not been invited to the event).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. See this week’s Galway City Tribune for more. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

The top three worst junctions in Galway City!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Let’s face it, Galway wasn’t built for cars. It’s not particularly friendly for pedestrians or cyclists either. The Galway City Ring Road may help – if it’s ever built. And some minor improvements are being made to encourage cycling and more walking. The Bypass project is very controversial and we won’t rehash the arguments here. But change is difficult, even minor change. So reducing speed limits in Renmore might seem sensible to planners sitting at a desk, but it isn’t necessarily welcomed by those living in the area who have to navigate the change. It’s the same with cycling infrastructure. Everyone favours cycle lanes until these take away on-street parking from outside their home, or along the Prom.

Whether you travel by private car, bus, bicycle or foot, there are several junctions and stretches of road or footpath that drive us all cracked.

Here are three of the worst, in descending order, marked on a scale of one-to-ten, with 10 being the worst.

Feel free to email your own worst junctions.

3) Kirwan Junction 

No prizes for guessing one of the top-three most awful junctions in Galway City is the Kirwan Junction, the most talked about since the shambles of a changeover of the Moneenageisha Roundabout to “intelligent traffic lights” a decade ago.

The new Kirwan has attracted an avalanche of complaints – formally to the Council but also on social media and anecdotally. Most people are angry that the junction has made tailbacks worse, not better.

And even cyclists and pedestrians aren’t pleased with it – improvements for these users had been one of the selling points when a majority of Councillors voted for change.

Senator Ollie Crowe (FF) has repeatedly complained about the new junction, and in November called for a full audit to be carried out on this and other junctions where tailbacks are regularly reported.

Galway County Councillor James Charity (Ind) described the new junction as “nothing short of a disaster”, which was causing tailbacks on the N84 Headford Road. He told planners to ‘go back to the drawing board’ to improve the flow of traffic at Kirwan.

Rating: 7/10

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. See the May 6 edition of the Galway City Tribune for more. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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