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Croissants, beer and votes in Brussels

Dara Bradley

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Alan Cheevers in Clareview

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Voting isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to our MEPs.

But, in between eating croissants and drinking Belgian beer, it’d be nice to think that our MEPs are voting in the European Parliament when they’re over on the Continent.

After all, we send them to Europe at great expense to represent our interests. Voting is one way they do that.

Except, keeping track of which way MEPs vote and how often they vote can be a bit of a drag. Even the political anoraks couldn’t be bothered.

Thanks then to the good folk at Votewatch.eu who keep track of our MEPs voting records for us.

The website is bursting with data; it has too much of it. It has even gone to the trouble of ranking our MEPs, in terms of their participation in roll-call votes since the last election, in 2009.

You’ll be glad to know that none of the three Connacht/Ulster MEPs ranked as the worst of Ireland’s 12 representatives in terms of participating in votes.

Fianna Fáil’s Pat the Cope Gallagher has the worst voting participation record of the three, at 87.94%. He’s ranked ninth of the 12 Paddy MEPs.

Next came Fine Gael’s Jim Higgins, whose participation in roll-call votes is 89.17%, according to the website. That’s a middle-of-the-road seventh ranking out of 12.

The west’s top voter was Independent Marian Harkin. She voted in 92.35% of votes, which put her ranked in the top tier of Irish MEPs, at fourth.

Of course, like with most things, it’s the quality rather than the quantity of voting that matters. But it’s handy to know the frequency all the same.

MEPs, go figure

The same website gives you other little nuggets of information about the MEPs’ activities since last time they came looking for your vote. It gives an analysis of what exactly they’ve been up to these past five years (albeit in crude statistical format). Here is the data of our three MEPs in the west for those of you that don’t have access to Votewatch.eu:

Marian Harkin: One report drafted; three opinions drafted; 197 reports amended; 204 parliamentary questions asked; 12 written declarations signed; and 14 motions for resolutions signed.

Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher: One report drafted; two opinions drafted; 49 reports amended; 186 parliamentary questions asked; zero written declarations signed; and 10 motions for resolutions signed.

Jim Higgins: one report drafted; zero opinions drafted; 79 reports amended; 544 parliamentary questions asked; three written declarations signed; and one motion for resolutions signed.

The site gives us a caveat about Higgins and says that he has either been president or vice-president of the parliament or leader of one of the political groupings and the participation figures may be influenced by the way they exercise those duties.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

Trying to keep up with Zoom Council meeting

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Monday’s Galway City Council meeting, which took place on the video conferencing app, Zoom, was to last no more than one hour and 55 minutes.

Even though it was a remote meeting, three participants shared a room for it.

Mayor Mike Cubbard, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, and Meetings Administrator, Gary McMahon, sat socially distanced in the Council Chamber at City Hall. Elected members, other staff and media tuned in remotely from their homes.

“Thank you, Mayor, just trying to keep up,” said a breathless Gary McMahon about two-and-a-half hours into the supposed two-hour meeting.

The delayed response was to a query from Mayor Mike as to whether Gary was okay. Moments of excruciating dead air filled the Zoom call before the reply came.

Gary wasn’t the only one finding it difficult to keep up, in fairness. But there were mitigating circumstances.

He was one of the three amigos – along with Mayor Mike and Brendan – in the same room, when it was informally agreed to extend the meeting beyond 115 minutes.

For his own safety and to comply with Covid-19 public health guidelines on social distancing, Gary left the Chamber, and dashed upstairs to his office to facilitate the remainder of the meeting. Mayor Mike stayed put and Brendan retired to his office.

After 15 minutes’ recess, with all three men marked safe and Zooming in from separate rooms, the meeting resumed, and it was easy to see why Gary McMahon was flummoxed.

Firstly, he’d forgotten to bring his rule book of Standing Orders upstairs with him. And elected members weren’t exactly helping either, with contradictory voting on whether to formally proceed with the meeting they had already informally agreed should proceed, in order to vote on whether it should proceed proper.

Before the break, Martina O’Connor (Green), called for the meeting to be stopped and adjourned until next Monday. Collette Connolly (Ind) agreed; the 115 minutes was up. John Connolly (FF) said okay but only if it went ahead in Leisureland, not on Zoom.

If three people could socially distance in a room to facilitate a Zoom call, 18 councillors plus staff could socially distance in a room that normally holds hundreds, he argued.

Brendan McGrath said the HSE advice was that physical meetings should not happen during lockdown and at a time when the UK variant was spreading fast.

Noel Larkin (Ind) wanted to keep going on Monday. John Connolly supported him.

The 115-minute time limit had passed when a vote was called. Gary McMahon said it couldn’t be taken because, by then, they were well over the health and safety time-limit for meetings. They adjourned.

On resumption, they voted on Larkin’s amendment to keep going. Twelve for; five against. The amendment carried and became the substantive motion, and they voted again on it. This time it passed 15 to one (Collette). Mike Crowe (FF), who voted against the first time, had left. Donal Lyons (Ind), Martina and her fellow Green Niall Murphy voted for the meeting to proceed, even though seconds earlier they had voted against it proceeding.

Confused? Finding it hard to keep up? Now you know how the Meetings Administrator felt.

(Photo: Meetings Administrator Gary McMahon)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Decentralisation finally comes to pass almost two decades on

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Remote working...a reality at last.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Back in December 2003, Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy pulled off what looked like a sensational coup when he turned his Budget speech into a dramatic announcement on decentralisation.

McCreevy announced he was going to move the headquarters of most Government departments and some agencies out of Dublin and into the provinces – and with it, 10,300 public employees.

On Budget Day, his fellow Ministers made huge hay about departments and agencies coming to their constituencies.

Tom Parlon, the Offaly TD and OPW Minister at the time, organised posters to be erected all over his constituency proclaiming: “This is Parlon Country”.

The Departments of Defence and An Ghaeltacht both established larger presences in Galway; the OPW moved to Trim, Co Meath; the Department of Arts and Tourism mainly moved to Killarney; and the Road Safety Authority moved to Ballina.

But from early on there was resistance. Public service unions kicked up and demanded relocation money. Many Dublin-based public servants did not want to move, especially among the senior ranks.

There were skill deficits when people left specialist roles in Dublin to move down the country, or when they refused to leave, leaving the Department (now rural-based) without technical staff.

The scheme was a great one, but it was half-baked in that it was sprung on everybody by surprise without thinking through all the consequences.

McCreevy might have been better introducing it more gradually and with more consultation (even though with the public service that can take many years, and drive you to the madhouse).

Still, thousands of public servants were able to move into rural Ireland, into provincial cities and towns because of it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Luckless Kenny needs breaks as Irish football in a bad state

John McIntyre

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny who is still seeking his first win after eight matches in charge.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The past few years have been tough times for Irish football – on and off the field. The FAI, the sport’s beleaguered administrators (or should I say administrator given John Delaney’s long-time staggering grip on power) was something of a basket case as the Association stands rightfully accused of neglecting the game’s grassroots.

On the field, the Republic of Ireland have continued to suffer an unchecked decline in fortunes – highlighted by that 5-1 home humiliation against Denmark in the second leg of the World Cup play-off in November of 2017. They subsequently missed out on qualification for Euro 2020 when losing on penalties to Slovakia last October.

Ireland have plummeted down the world rankings – they are currently trailing in 42nd position, behind the likes of Algeria and Australia, with little prospect of a significant revival in the medium term. Who’d want to be their manager in such circumstances? Unfortunately, Stephen Kenny has drawn the short straw in this regard.

And because the Dubliner is a home-grown boss of the international team, he was never going to be cut the same slack as his immediate predecessors, Martin O’Neill, whose innate tactical conservatism and spikey manner did him no favours towards the end of his reign, and Mick McCarthy, whose latest managerial stint in Cyprus barely lasted a couple of months.

Delaney had conjured up a convoluted succession plan where Kenny would leave his Ireland U20 post to take over from McCarthy after the Euro qualifiers, but Covid intervened leaving Kenny to salvage the Republic’s campaign. Unfortunately, he can’t buy a break in the job and the pressure is mounting.

The coronavirus disrupted his team selection on several occasions, while injuries were no help either. The bare facts are that Kenny has been in charge of eight matches, but is still seeking his first victory. Furthermore, Ireland have only managed a solitary goal in that time which must be an all-time low.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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