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Father Ted feel to the latest ‘hybrid’ Galway City Council meeting



Councillor Colette Connolly: The new Mayor attended the Council meeting remotely via Zoom. Those who were present in person at Leisureland found it hard to hear her. But she was made none the wiser.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway City councillors could be forgiven for feeling they were being treated like imbeciles at the start of the June ordinary meeting.

Meetings administrator, Gary McMahon, was explaining the rules of the meeting, which held as a hybrid – in-person at Leisureland and remotely, using online technology.

It would last no longer than one hour and 55 minutes, to comply with Covid-19 regulations, he said. Then he explained to them – slowly – how to use the microphones.

“Not too close to your mouth and not too far away,” said Gary, with the air of a boarding school principal addressing morning assembly.

Patronising? Yes. Necessary? Also, yes, probably.

In fairness, the acoustics in Leisureland are cat melodeon.

Grand for Comedy Festival gigs where there’s one person on stage communicating with a receptive audience. It’s just not suited to local authority meetings where half of the participants are attending remotely, via Zoom. Unless used correctly, the mics are useless.

The meeting started at 3pm but they hadn’t even finished the first item – minutes of the previous meeting – when technological problems emerged.

“It’s impossible to hear,” shouted Colette Connolly (Ind) into her laptop screen, when one of the officials, Brian Barrett, was replying to her question. He’d possibly missed Gary’s introduction.

Colette was attending remotely. She, too, was difficult to hear, for anyone based in Leisureland; her voice dipping and fading at various junctures during her contributions. Not that anyone alerted her. Maybe they didn’t notice. Or maybe nobody needed to hear more Colette. She can have that effect on colleagues.

At 3.48pm, with Colette in full flow about something or other, the Shantalla-based councillor was cut off suddenly.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d claim it was deliberate.

Alas, while councillors – and City Hall management – may have wished Colette would stop talking, there was no evidence to suggest they had successfully willed it to happen.

No, apparently it was a technical glitch, breaking the connection between the real and virtual attendees.

“They’re all still online, it’s just that my thing is gone,” assured the poor unfortunate man at Leisureland who was responsible for ensuring the ‘thing’ wasn’t ‘gone’.

King of Knocknacarra, Donal Lyons (Ind), proposed an adjournment until the technical fault was resolved.

Those in Leisureland had an idea what happened – the screen showing online participants went dead. Collectively, they just sat and waited until it was fixed.

But what about those attending remotely; were they sat at home alone, frantically trying to find what button they’d hit that made them lose connection, or did they even notice?

After about five minutes, the meeting resumed. It continued without technical glitches, bar some spontaneous outbursts of ear-piercing screeches from microphone feedback and muffled sound and annoying echoes of online contributors.

Because of Covid-19 time limits, the meeting was adjourned ’til next Monday. Maybe they’ll have the hang of hybrid by then.

(Photo: Councillor Colette Connolly).
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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