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Bradley Bytes

Diddle-idle-day-ro outshines cranks at people’s debate



Vincent Browne was happy to let the audience throw the punches in the Galway West constituency debate.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Just as the Irish dancers and musicians from Trad on the Prom shuffled stage-left, contrarian broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne declared: “That’s the best part of the programme – it’s all downhill from here.”

He wasn’t wrong.

It was last Monday night and every political latchico in the Galway West constituency was thronged into the Galway Bay Hotel for the recording of The People’s Debate, which was edited and broadcast on TV3 on Wednesday. Though the edited version that was broadcast seemed quite polished, the ‘live’ debate was a test of endurance and patience even for political nerds. The broadcast version – minus the shouty gobshites that you couldn’t please – was certainly better than being there.

It was the 11th programme in the TV network’s whistle-stop tour of the country, and Galway West gave us what we’ve come to expect from the People’s Debate: a mixture of conspiracy theorists, lunatics that have escaped the asylum, cranks, advisors – aren’t they the same, says you – the Government parties’ political plants who pepper the audience and who are by far outnumbered by the Usual Suspects, otherwise known as the Sinister Fringe and the Anti-Everything Brigade, all crammed into the same room.

They’re all here for one thing – to witness, and partake in, a public flogging of local TDs.

The four punching bags were sitting TDs, Seán Kyne (FG), Derek Nolan (Lab), Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) and Brian Walsh (FG); the fifth, Independent TD, Noel Grealish, we were told, was away on holidays, and though he had asked TV3 to reschedule to accommodate him, they wouldn’t.

Noel ‘no show’ Grealish, though clearly, ahem, devastated he couldn’t tear himself away from the sun-lounger, was the clear winner by virtue of not being there.

Browne is normally the one throwing hay-makers. But, sighing and snorting less often on Monday than normal, he was, unusually, in a light-hearted mood and was happy to allow the audience throw the punches.

The woman from the Galway Land League set a bizarre tone of debate when she asked the four TDs what they thought of the ECB (European Central Bank) ordering that 47,000 Irish homes be repossessed.

When this ‘fact’ was challenged by Browne, the woman ploughed on and said it was the IMF (International Monetary Fund), who had ordered the repossessions.

“I don’t think that’s really true,” said Vincent, bemused.

She replied: “Well can they (four TDs) deny it?”

The level of debate improved (only marginally at times); and thankfully Vincent moved swiftly along and spared us her next question for the foursome, ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’

#VinB Debate throws open closet

The People’s Debate opened with a polarising audience exchange on the Marriage Equality Referendum. Fittingly, participants thereafter used the debate as a vehicle to ‘come out’ on a whole host of things. Here’s eight:

1) Senator Fidelma Healy Eames ‘came out’ against the referendum . . . well, sort of. She started to explain how she was “seriously conflicted” on same-sex marriage, and was abruptly cut-off by Vincent Browne who wanted ‘yes’ or ‘no’ speakers, and spared FHE splinters in her bottom from fence-sitting.

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


People Before Profit Galway’s something old from someone new!



The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

People Before Profit introduced its newest local representative with a press release about a familiar old theme: Galway transport and traffic.

Denman Rooke is now representing the party in Galway City East and has set his sights on winning a seat and becoming the party’s first ever PBP councillor on Galway City Council.

In his first public statement under the PBP banner, Rooke welcomed the BusConnects Galway project, which he said had the potential to encourage more public transport and cycling in the city.

“This not only helps tackle overall emissions, but our major traffic issues as well,” he said.

But who is Denman Rooke?

A 36-year-old professional artist and illustrator with strong trade union links, he’s been an art director in entertainment and games for the last 16 years.

A self-professed “eco-socialist activist”, he’s a trade union activist and committee member with Game Workers Unite Ireland which is part of Financial Services Union.

He’s also involved in the Cost of Living Coalition Galway, popular with PBP members.

Born in the USA, Denman Rooke spent a chunk of his childhood in various different countries.

“My father was a South African-born Irishman and my mother an Indian-born American. So, I have a family that is used to being spread out across the world,” he told us.

He spent most of his teens and early 20s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2013 he moved with his wife, Caitlyn, to work in Dublin and settled in Galway in 2013. The gamer got involved in local politics to make change.

“With such massive income inequality in our society, a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, climate crisis, and so much more, I felt I had to get involved. I believe socialism, through movements organised by ordinary working people, is the change our society needs,” said Denman Rooke.

He announced his arrival on the scene attending a protest outside University Hospital Galway last Saturday week, organised by Aontú, and was also at the BusConnects Galway public consultation in Renmore Community Centre last week.

With one high-profile resignation from City East already and at least one retirement of the old guard expected, PBP will be targeting a breakthrough in the Local Election in 2024 in a wide-open six-seat ward.

(Photo: The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Will it be third time lucky in Galway for Labour’s John McDonagh?



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

John McDonagh is planning another run in the Local Elections in Galway City Central.

He was the third leg of a Labour stool that wobbled in 2014; former poll-topper Billy Cameron got a scare but retained his seat, Colette Connolly lost her seat, and John McDonagh wasn’t at the races.

He bounced back in 2019 when Comrade Cameron retired – as did Colette, successfully running as an Independent rather than for Labour – but McDonagh narrowly missed out on winning a seat in City Central as Shantalla instead plumped for Connolly and the Green Party’s Martina O’Connor.

Without claiming a seat, the Social Democrats had a strong showing from Sharon Nolan, too, which gobbled up traditional socially-conscious Labour support.

Rumour has it, McDonagh, a community activist, is planning one last attempt to get elected to City Hall.

Will he get a Labour Party nomination to contest the election – well the candidates aren’t exactly queuing up for the party, now are they? – and can he make it third time lucky?

Meanwhile, there’s still no sign of a ‘Bacik Bounce’ for new party leader Ivana Bacik.

And no sign either of Labour in Galway West unveiling local election candidates for City East, a running mate for Níall McNelis in City West, or any candidates for Galway County Council.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 20 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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