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CITY TRIBUNE

Cubbard rides storm of ‘annus horribilis’

Dara Bradley

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Mayor Mike with boxer Katie Taylor: down, but not out.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

In the grander scheme of things right now, the mayoral chain pales into insignificance. But even Mayor Mike Cubbard’s fiercest political foes feel sympathy for the ‘annus horribilis’ he has endured as First Citizen.

Again, there are more important things in life, but for councillors, becoming mayor of your home city is the pinnacle of a career in local politics.

It was a proud day for the Westside Independent when he took over the mayoral chain, surrounded by family, at City Hall last June.

Being mayor in 2020 was a prize coveted by all 18 councillors because Galway would be European Capital of Culture and, being blunt, it was supposed to involve quite a bit of overseas travel to promote the city, as well as high-profile appearances at Galway 2020 events locally.

But Mayor Mike’s term has gone a bit pear-shaped because of Covid-19. His China trip earlier this year was cut short due to the virus spreading rapidly in that country, and since he’s come home, there have been cancellations all round.

The opening of Galway 2020 in February was halted by bad weather and now its programme has been practically wiped out by virus lockdown.

Trips to Seattle and New York for official St Patrick’s Day mayoral duties were cancelled because of coronavirus. St Patrick’s Day parades are a highlight of any mayoral term but the 2020 edition was cancelled and unlike 2001 – when Foot and Mouth led to the event being cancelled – it won’t be re-staged within his period in office. Mayor Mike is possibly the first mayor not to preside over a Paddy’s Day parade.

Nearly every other event has been cancelled too, from small-time ribbon-cutting photo ops to bigger stuff like the annual Mayoral Ball for charity, and the Mayor’s Awards project.

Basically, he’s the first mayor to finish in March! Assuming he doesn’t do a Leo on it, and just stay in office indefinitely, Cllr Noel Larkin is due to take the chain in June, and will benefit from Mayor Mike’s misfortune – a Galway Film Fleadh showing in Los Angeles Cubbard was invited to attend has been pushed out to August.

“He better get me a stick of rock from LA when he goes!” said Mayor Mike.

Beer fly bytes

It’s the question that has puzzled all our thirsty ‘beer fly’ readers ever since the city’s pubs closed their doors around a fortnight ago: What happened to all the beloved beer in the half-used kegs, and indeed the full kegs, in each hostelry?
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

CITY TRIBUNE

Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra

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An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.

Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.

The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.

It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Larkin and McDonnell out as Frankeen ‘Pacts’ punch!

Dara Bradley

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Cllr Noel Larkin

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The first City Council meeting since the summer recess took place last Monday in Leisureland. There were few raised voices or rows; a sedate affair, it was more straightforward than usual for the start of a new term.

It was as if city councillors were keeping their powder dry. Now we know why.

An hour after the Council meeting ended, the ruling pact’s mayoral agreement disintegrated in a blazing row. And a new pact has now been formed, but not with the combination of councillors that everyone expected.

It’s complicated. But the shenanigans that led to the creation of a new rainbow coalition, with a distinctly Blue(shirt)-hue, gives an insight into the cut-throat nature of local politics, and the rat-like cunning that’s needed to negotiate a path to power.

The collapse of the existing pact [Noel Larkin, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab), Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy (Green)] has its roots in a dispute about Travellers.

After that house near Carnmore, bought by the City Council and earmarked for Travellers, was razed by fire, Larkin gave an interview on local radio, which irked Niall Murphy, a newbie to politics.

Murphy contacted all pact members, denouncing Larkin’s GBFM performance in a cutting email that sailed close to the wind. Larkin was livid. And attempts by pact members to placate him didn’t work.

So, twelve days after pressing ‘send’ on the explosive email, Murphy met Larkin face-to-face at the pact meeting on Monday evening in the Galway Bay Hotel. Fireworks ensued. The exact details of the barbed exchanges are sketchy but what is clear is that when McDonnell and Larkin left, the five who remained in the room, (two pact members were absent) knew the pact was finished.

Larkin and McDonnell had indicated they would negotiate with Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare) and Fianna Fáil (Mike Crowe, Imelda Byrne, Peter Keane, John Connolly, Alan Cheevers).

Those tripartite talks proceeded, and by late Monday, the rainbow pact members had conceded that power had slipped from their grasp.

They hadn’t signed on it, but the prevailing wisdom – among all sides – was that a new FF/FG/Larkin/McDonnell pact would emerge on Tuesday.

Not so fast, said Frankeen Fahy. Unhappy that FG was getting just one mayor in that scenario, he contacted the crestfallen rainbow pact members with an offer – they could keep their Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and deputy mayoral positions already agreed under the previous pact, but give FG two mayors.

The kingmaker was Donal Lyons. The ‘King of Knocknacarra’ forfeited being mayor in return for remaining on as chair of an SPC, and becoming deputy mayor instead.

One last attempt was made by FG to coalesce with FF, but the Soldiers of Destiny refused to budge on a second mayor, and insisted on one each for FF/FF/Ind. Meanwhile, overtures were made between FF and the Greens, but Larkin was a stumbling block to an alternative pact.

The upshot of the wheeling and dealing is a new pact (O’Flaherty, Lyons, Cubbard, Connolly, McNelis, O’Connor, Murphy, Hoare, Fahy, and Higgins). Fine Gael are the big winners at the expense of Larkin, McDonnell, and Fianna Fáil, who once again in City Council pact negotiations grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Larkin)

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.

The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.

The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.

According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.

The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.

“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.

According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.

Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.

This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.

When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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