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Fahey ups his profile with gigs straight from the top



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

Am I the only one who has noticed the number of very high profile ‘gigs’ which FF Deputy Frank Fahey got recently on the national airwaves – largely in relation to the hugely important NAMA legislation which was going through the Dáil, and precisely what it would mean for the taxpayer?

Fahey found himself repeatedly on Morning Ireland against no less foes than Richard Bruton TD (Fine Gael Deputy Leader) and George Lee TD, one of the Fine Gael ‘hottest new properties’ and a man surely destined for high office if Enda Kenny is the next Taoiseach, as now seems likely if the opinion polls are even vaguely accurate.

What is important to note about these stints on radio on very high-profile occasions like Morning Ireland is that these appearances do not come lightly. First of all, Fahey would have to be chosen by the Government Press Office as the man to go on and ‘mark’ the likes of very impressive performers like Bruton and Lee.

And, equally importantly, Fine Gael would have to feel that Fahey was important enough to put on one of their frontline men. The sort of negotiations that go on before these appearances, are detailed and sometimes mind-boggling.

The perception would be that Fahey was well in charge of his brief in these and other appearances – but that is hardly surprising, given that he is very close indeed to Boss Man Brian Cowen, and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

Many will have noted also that he acted as Lenihan’s ‘sidekick’ during much of the committee stage of the NAMA legislation marathon in the Dáil chamber during last week. Garlic may be the reason he chose to sit behind Lenihan during some of those sessions.

The links don’t appear to end there . . . for there is word that Fahey was one of the first to introduce Finance Advisor, Dr Alan Aherne (ex-NUI, Galway and the US Fed) to Lenihan.

Ahern is now the fulltime guru in the Department of Finance and may even have briefed Fahey prior to his radio stints.Meantime, the Fahey appearances will not have gone unnoticed among Fahey’s political rivals in Galway West, where Fahey may have to defend his seat in tough times for FF. One of those FF ‘family seats’ (Éamon Ó Cuív, Fahey and Noel Grealish), could be vulnerable to Fine Gael attack, with Labour’s Michael D Higgins tipped to potentially top the poll if current opinion poll trends hold.

And his rivals will have noted that Fahey was chosen as the man to announce the important new scheme to help couples who are in difficulties in paying their mortgages – many of them because of the loss of a job, or because overtime or wages have been cut in the midst of the recession.

Fahey pointed out that the scheme was part of the Programme for Government. Under the plan, he said, the Government would subsidise interest rates so that couples would pay the interest on their mortgage, but that the basic agreement would ensure that the couple would not lose their house.

He said the new measures to be brought in would include reduced rates; longer maturity dates; rolling up of outstanding interest; the bank taking an equity interest in the house; the bank taking ownership and leasing it back to the resident with rent payments coming off the loan.

“What is important in this scheme is that couples should approach the Community Welfare Officer and should make an agreement with their building society or bank,” said Fahey.

“It is important that they should approach their bank or building society if they are having difficulty . . . the whole idea behind this scheme is that couples would not lose their homes because they are in difficulty, essentially though no fault of their own.

“They have been hit by difficulties like the loss of a job, or shorter working time or wage cuts, and we simply have to take account of these difficult circumstances for couples who are blameless in this situation.”

If Enda Kenny had a mind to, he could have sent seven “to traps” at Galway Greyhound Track on Friday night – for, on parade, were the entire line-up of possible candidates for FG in Galway West, an impossible choice for Kenny who has still to sort out the runners in both Galway East and Galway West constituencies.

Fine Gael are said to have raised a total of €15,000 in election funding on Friday night at the dogs in Galway, but the real interest for those observing was for any indicator of just who would be ‘on the ticket’ for the next election – from a potential series of runners that includes: TD Padraic McCormack, Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, Councillors Padraig Conneely, Brian Walsh, Sean Kyne and Hildegarde Naughton, and Joe Lee, who ran for FG in the Local Elections in Connemara.If they brought in the possible contenders from Galway East – Paul Connaughton TD, Ulick Burke TD, Senator Ciaran Cannon, Councillor Tom McHugh and Dr John Barton – they would have a true measure of the Fine Gael dilemma in picking its Galway tickets. They could have run a meeting of their own.

Fine Gael feel sure that they must gain a seat in Galway West and the word now in informed circles is that they may be looking to appoint a senior minister from Galway, if they bring in that second seat in Galway West. But FG will have to push their vote from the 20% of last time to certainly close to 30% if that dream of a second seat is to become a reality.

During the ‘night at the dogs’, Kenny was full of vim and vigour and looking the part of a Taoiseach-in-Waiting, but he’s got to wait for the tottering Government that still stubbornly refuses to fall, and then he’s got to ensure that Galway West delivers two seats, a thing it hasn’t done since 1982 (John Donnellan and Fintan Coogan Jnr).

Meanwhile, on the above count, he’s got seven possible starters in Galway West alone . . . maybe they need an extra ‘trap’ in Fine Gael apart from the usual six in dog racing. But then that ‘hare’ Cowen still stubbornly refuses to run.It was only part of Kenny’s appointments on the night – for, before he went to the dogs, he visited the cast of Who Killed The Celtic Tiger, a political spoof in which Hildegarde Naughton was playing the part of Mary Harney.

Meanwhile, missing on the night – not surprisingly – was PD Dáil Deputy Noel Grealish, who has been courted by Fine Gael in recent months, but who hasn’t the slightest interest in joining Fine Gael in Galway, despite VIP approaches in the background. I heard on the grapevine that, like a lot of others, Grealish bought a ticket for the Fine Gael ‘night at the dogs’, but he didn’t attend . . . probably for fear of the rumours it would start again. Listen, he ain’t joining Fine Gael.

In the meantime, there will be another major FG ‘gig’ in Galway on Monday next (10am to 12.30pm) when what amounts to most of its heavy hitters – Kenny, Bruton, Lee, Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney Kieran O’Donnell, to name but a few – will be doing a session for business and community leaders from the west, in the Menlo Park. It is intended as a jobs creation think-in and is part of a Kenny series around the country entitled ‘Working Together’, which is aimed at job retention and creation and finding the thoughts of business people.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

ItÕs time for my Organic Galway Ramble #4,365!



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

As regular colyoomistas will know, I’m a strangely conflicted type of bloke. The lucky owner of a full range of social skills hewn, sanded-down and polished-up during years spent hitch-hiking around the planet, I can talk to and get on with anybody from any country, social stratum and culture.

Thing is, I don’t really like to. Essentially, I’m a reformed loner. Living on my own in west Connemara and north Mayo for several years, I settled into a silent life of walking, work and talking to animals. If it wasn’t for my need to watch Chelsea games, I’d never have left the house.

Thankfully I was blessed in both houses with good friends to visit nearby, God love ‘em, preservers of my sanity, but inasmuch as I loved that life, I knew that it wasn’t good for me.

Whether you call it OCD or control freakery or just another scribbler going stir crazy, I started to behave obsessively.

My plate.

My knife and fork.

This goes there and nowhere else.

Not healthy at all, but thankfully from the inside I was able to recognise that it was a bit of a dark one-way street, so I returned to the city and engaged the human race once more.

Now I have the best of both worlds, with rural solitude during my working walking day and the Snapper for company in the evening. Her presence encourages me to behave as an almost fully-formed human, but truth be told, I get away with murder. Maybe it’s one of the benefits of married life: as mutual comfort levels increase and personal standards plunge into decline, I regress into slobdom.

Social skills are like all others; they require practice. So in an effort to polish-up my personality, I head into town for one of my Organic Galway Rambles.

Unlike sane and sensible people, the two ingredients required for my ideal night-out are a lack of people around town and, as a self-appointed honorary Galwegian, an absolute absence of firm arrangements.

Heading across Wolfe Tone Bridge, chin down into the freezing north-easterly wind, I head up onto Quay Street. The blackened glistening cobbles echo the utter emptiness of Galway’s social heart. The early night air is sodden with sideways rain, while the wind is whipping around my gonads like spaghetti around a spoon.

Lovely! Perfect! A freezing cold lashing-down Tuesday evening in January. It has been too long. Welcome home, Charlie Adley!

My anti-social ingredients increase the likelihood that there will be barstools available everywhere. Nothing worse than having to sit at a table on your own. Let me stare at the optics and space out.

But first, as ever, a feast of fish and peas in McDonagh’s. Nothing else better sets me on my way mentally, physically, spiritually prepared for anything.

Belly warm and lined, I slip onto a barstool in the front bar of the Quays, where three others are sat, having a chat. A basket of hot sausages and goujons appears. The craic is quiet and mighty all at once. A late Christmas whiskey arrives in front of me, which tastes all the sweeter, because somehow the barman knew my name.

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

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Ballinasloe dig deep to book date in Croker



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Ballinasloe 2-7

An Port Mor (Armagh) 0-10


The men of Ballinasloe are on their way to Croke Park after overcoming a spirited second half fight-back from 14-man An Port Mor of Armagh in a keenly contested All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday.

Seven points up against a team who had corner forward Christopher Lennon sent off late in the first half, Ballinasloe looked to be cruising to victory at the break – but ultimately they had to dig deep to see off a defiant late challenge from the Ulster champions.

Ultimately, the damage was done in the first half. St Grellan’s produced some fine football in that opening period, two goals from central attackers Padraic Cunningham and Michael Colohan giving them the seven point cushion which made all the difference in the end.

Ballinasloe will have to analyse why they lost their way somewhat in the second period but, led by Man of the Match Darragh McCormack, Paul Whelehan, Liam Lynch, Gary Canavan, and Keith Kelly, they produced some delightful football to cause all sorts of bother in the An Port Mor defence throughout the opening period.

Backed by a huge travelling support from the East Galway town, Sean Riddell’s side enjoyed a dream start as rampant corner forwards McCormack and Whelehan combined to win a free which was comfortably slotted over the bar by Kelly after two minutes.

Even better was to come three minutes later when McCormack brilliantly rounded his man before providing a perfect pass for Whelehan, who was hauled down in the penalty area. Centre forward Padraic Cunningham calmly slotted the spot kick to the bottom left hand corner and they were 1-1 to no score up with five minutes gone.


McCormack and Whelehan combined well again before Canavan set up a good score for midfielder Lynch, but An Port Mor looked to be right back in the game when corner forward Shane Nugent was fouled in the Ballinasloe penalty area with 11 minutes on the clock.

Centre forward David Curran blasted the penalty over the crossbar, however, to the relief of the large Ballinasloe following. Curran provided the next score from a short-range free, following another foul on Nugent, but the Armagh men had to wait until the 30th minute before registering their first point from open play.

Ballinasloe enjoyed a purple patch at this stage, hitting 1-3 without reply, including a brace of points from Whelehan and a well-taken score on the run from Lynch, who dominated the midfield sector.

The Connacht champions produced some sublime moves in the third quarter and could have added a second goal when the superb McCormack had a shot blocked down, after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, following good work by Lynch.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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