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CITY TRIBUNE

Critic Conneely gone but Galway 2020’s problems persist

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Bradley Bytes – A Political Column with Dara Bradley 

Galway 2020’s problems haven’t gone away.

One of the company’s fiercest critics – Pádraig Conneely – may be gone from public life, but its fundamental issue, funding, or a lack of it, persists.

Since Conneely’s retirement from politics in May, the controversies surrounding Galway 2020’s European Capital of Culture aren’t thrashed out as much in the public domain.

Don’t be fooled: problems may be out of sight and out of mind but they’re still there.

Part of the problem is that the bid book, Making Waves – the document that won Galway the designation – overpromised. And the company set up to deliver on the bid book is struggling to fulfil all those promises.

One of the reasons the company struggled initially to fulfil the bid book’s ambitious targets is because of issues with appointments, to the Board and to key positions in the company.

A Business Engagement Director was supposed to be appointed in December 2017; but that process was botched, and the Board then decided in January of that year not to appoint anyone to that role. Arguably the most important position after a CEO, the Business Engagement Director would have been tasked with raising €6.75 million in private sponsorship.

Galway 2020’s current funding problems can be traced back to its decision against appointing someone to tap private businesses for cash. In the meantime, Galway 2020 was hit with setback after setback, and the feelgood factor that initially greeted winning the designation has evaporated. Companies which had pledged sponsorship lost confidence and were reluctant to part with their cash.

Now we’ve a situation, weeks out from the programme launch (which will be a far smaller affair in Eyre Square than initially envisaged, see Page One), and just months from the official launch – and Galway 2020 isn’t within an ass’s roar of €6.75 million in sponsorship money.

By the end of December 2018, it had raised just €30,000 in hard, cold cash from private sources.

Galway 2020 puts on a brave face – it has to – and talks about “in-kind support” and the overall budget being a “value proposition” rather than cash. But there’s no mention of “value proposition” in the bid book, and the bid book’s €6.75 million target for private sponsorship was income, not “in-kind” support. Galway 2020 is now talking of a “fundraising and partnerships pipeline” of €4.5 million, rather than €6.75 million, even though it insists its bid book target (of €6.75 million in sponsorship income) hasn’t changed.

An organisation that cannot be up-front, and answer the simple question, ‘How much sponsorship income has been raised so far?’ isn’t one you’d place a whole pile of faith in, is it? There may be reasons to obfuscate – mainly because it hasn’t reached its targets – but it only serves to further undermine the very thing they’re trying to build: confidence in the Capital of Culture . . . For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Council officials branded ‘ignorant’ after reneging on circus agreement

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A circus branded City Hall in Galway ‘ignorant and arrogant’ after a spat over access to public space.

Circus Gerbola criticised Galway City Council for limiting the days its big top was permitted in Claude Toft carpark in Salthill and for reneging on an agreement.

The touring troupe said that last January, it provisionally booked the carpark from August 4-21. In early July, the Council emailed the circus and said it would be limited to seven days only.

Event Producer Jane Murray said she then secured a verbal compromise to rent the carpark for 10 days, including two weekends. But then the Council contacted the circus again and insisted that the site could be used for seven days only.

“I wouldn’t call them clowns because I think it would be an insult to clowns and generations of clowning. They were just extremely ignorant and arrogant. They were so unempathetic,” fumed Ms Murray.

They then scrambled to find alternative accommodation, in Kinvara, for performances today, Saturday and Sunday.

The third planned week has been moved to Conamara. From next Monday, the big top moves to Fíbín theatre company grounds in An Tulach, Cois Fharraige, for a series of events.

A Council statement said the matter was discussed at length internally.

“The carpark in question is relied upon by locals and tourists alike for parking, particularly during the busy tourist season. The best compromise in this situation was to permit the circus to take over full use of the car park for seven days. We do envisage complaints/representations from locals at being prevented from using this car park for a full week,” it said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call on Galway City Council to tackle burning of rubbish

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Local residents have called on the authorities to tackle the problem of an ongoing illegal dump in the Castlegar area with the rubbish being burnt off on a regular basis.

A particularly intense fire was set off in the Bruckey area on Tuesday afternoon last with black smoke billowing from the blaze – forcing local people to close their windows and doors.

According to one local resident, even the Fire Brigade couldn’t access the blaze which eventually burnt itself out over the following days.

“This has been going on for the past four years and we have made several overtures to the City Council on the issue as well as contacting the Gardaí, but nothing is being done about this.”

He said that the land being used as dump and fire site was rented and added that those burning waste were ‘a complete law onto themselves who did whatever they liked’.

(Photo: the fire burning on Tuesday)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors ignore Transport Authority recommendation on estate access

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A submission by the National Transport Authority (NTA) – seeking to restrict new access points along the Western Distributor Road to ‘cyclists and pedestrians’ only – has been defeated at a City Council meeting.

Councillors voted 12-4 to reject the NTA submission presented in the draft Galway City Development Plan (2023-29) which sought to prevent new access points being provided for vehicular traffic.

The NTA in their submission said that their proposal was aimed at ‘protecting investment in public transport’ and in ‘facilitating sustainable travel’.

In his response to the submission, City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, said that the Council did not want any further restrictions to be put in place.

Councillors Niall Murphy (Green Party) and Colette Connolly (Ind) had proposed the acceptance of the NTA submission in order to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.

Senior Planner with the Council, Caroline Phelan, said that there was a substantial bank of land in this area (off the Western Distributor Road) and the objective was to be able to access zoned land.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said that if land in such areas was prevented from being developed by a lack of access, it would have major implications for industry, jobs, housing and schools. “We have to allow access,” he said.

(Photo: The ‘Kingston Cross’ lands on the Western Distributor Road which were earmarked for a commercial and residential development anchored by Tesco and Decathlon: An Bord Pleanála previously ruled access points would be a traffic hazard, particularly when it came to cycling infrastructure and a bus corridor on the road).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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