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Bradley Bytes

Even the pagan politicians stand for prayer

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – A Sort of Political Column by Dara Bradley

Most city councillors are Catholic. It stands to reason because most people in Ireland are Catholic.

Fianna Fáil City Councillor Mike Crowe, for example, there’s no mistaking he’s a Mass-goer.

We know this because he’s issued press releases and publicly talked about church gate collections and City Council parking policies which he claims are anti-Catholic and anti-GAA.

Others are Catholic and it might not be as obvious. Some councillors like visiting the Poor Clare nuns at Nuns’ Island every now and then. Some wear Scapulars or religious jewellery or medals. 

For some elected members you wouldn’t know what they are.

Muslims, protestants, pagans, we don’t know. We don’t ask. It’s none of our business. Except, maybe, it is.

Because what we do know is, regardless of their religion, City Councillors (as well as management officials, press members and the public in the gallery of the Council chamber) stand, solemnly, to hear the following prayer read out at the start of every City Council meeting at City Hall:

 

“Iarraimid Ort,

A Thiarna,

d’anál naomhtha do chur fúinn chun sinn,

do stiúradh in ár ngníomhartha,

agus neart do ghrásta do bhronnadh orainn

chun iad a thabhairt chun críche,

ionnus gur Uait-se

thosnófar ár n-uile bhriathair

agus ár n-uile ghríomh feasta,

agus gur Thrít a chríochnófar iad:

tré Chríost ár dTiarna.”

We’ve taken the liberty of (roughly) translating it for the West Brits among you:

“We ask you o Lord

to bestow upon us your blessed breath

to direct us in our actions

and (to bestow upon us) the strength of your grace

to bring those actions to fruition

so that from you

our words and all of our actions will come

and they will be done through you (with your help)

through Christ our Lord”.

All this while, we thought Councillors made decisions based on how many votes it would garner them. But no, according to the prayer, their decisions are guided by our Lord . . . And thank God (or Allah or Buddha or whoever) for that!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

Teach Solais closure a blow to LGBT teens

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

There is a dominant narrative, in Ireland and internationally, that a significant proportion of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex population experience mental health difficulties.

The findings of a study by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) back up the anecdotal evidence with hard statistics.

Across LGBT groups surveyed, between 12% and 35% of participants recorded scores indicating severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety and stress.

LGBT teenagers aged 14-18 were most impacted, followed by 19-25 year-olds.

Compared with other adolescents, teenagers who identified as LGBT were four times more likely to suffer severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety and stress.

The 14-18 year-old LGBT population also had lower self-esteem, and scored lower levels of happiness and satisfaction than their straight friends.

One in three of the LGBT population surveyed self-harmed; nearly half had done so within the previous 12 months, and almost 60% said self-harm was related to their sexual identity and struggle to be accepted by others and society. Rates of self-harm were higher (56%) for 14-18 year-olds, and three in every four of them had self-harmed in the previous year.

The stats varied depending on age of the LGBT survey participants, but almost 60% of the sample had seriously thought of ending their own life, with approximately 45% having thought of doing so within the past year. Some 60% reported that their suicidal thoughts were at least somewhat related to their LGBTI identity.

Of those who had seriously considered ending their own life, four in ten (39.9%) did not seek any help for the problems that led them to seriously consider ending their life.

More than one in five of the sample (21.4%) had seriously tried to take their own life. Approximately two-thirds (66.8%) reported that their suicide attempt(s) was at least somewhat related to being LGBT.

There are more stats in the GLEN study from 2018 that show that despite the many advances for the LGBT community in Ireland, the heteronormative worldview of society impacts on young LGBT people in particular. They’re more likely to be bullied in school, and misuse drugs and alcohol than their straight counterparts, for example.

The survey is important in the context of the closure of Teach Solais, the LGBT resource centre run by voluntary charity, Amach.

It was supported by the Maureen O’Connell fund, through Saint Vincent de Paul and by funds from Galway City Council, to get it open to the public in 2017. But after three years, it has closed because the Government won’t grant it annual, sustainable funding.

For just €90,000 a year, Teach Solais would provide health and wellbeing services at a drop-in centre, as well as an outreach service in County Galway, where rural isolation leading to mental health issues is a major issue.

In the long-run, sustainable funding makes sense  and will save lives and improve the lives of the LGBT community who suffer in silence. All that’s needed is political will.

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

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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

Culture Ireland monitored sean nós singer’s Galway 2020 tweet

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

The Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht appears to be monitoring social media for negative commentary about Galway 2020, the European Capital of Culture.

Earlier this year, Róisín Elsafty, a native Irish speaker and sean nós singer, tweeted the following about Galway 2020:

It very loosely translates as ‘Galway 2020 has a great music programme, but it looks to be mostly classical music, and there isn’t much traditional Irish music, or is it there and I’m just not seeing it?’.

The tweet was spotted by someone in the Department, who copied and pasted it to colleagues in Culture Ireland, a division of the Department’s that deals with the company Galway 2020, set up to deliver the Capital of Culture.

The email accompanying the tweet, sent to Sinead O’Hara in the Department and Christine Sisk in Culture Ireland, was released under Freedom of Information.

It said: “Hi there, just FYI [for your information], Prominent sean-nós singer, Róisín Elsafty, has started a conversation on Facebook and Twitter about what she perceives as the lack of “native/Irish language” content in the Galway 2020 programme . . .”

The following day, O’Hara and Sisk attended a meeting with Galway 2020 representatives at its offices on Merchants Road. According to the minutes of the meeting, Galway 2020 CEO Patricia Philbin was present. Whether they raised Róisín Elsafty’s concerns is unclear from the minutes.

The Sunday Independent revealed recently that Department of Justice officials were monitoring celebrities, politicians and the general public, who criticise Direct Provision on social media, among them Marian Keyes and Hozier.

Róisín Elsafty is in good company then but why is officialdom obsessed with Big Brother surveillance?
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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