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Fahey ups his profile with gigs straight from the top

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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

Judy Murphy



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

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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