Date Published: 11-May-2011
A right old battle has broken out in Galway Fine Gael between Councillors Padraig Conneely and Hildegarde Naughton over which of them should be the new Mayor in June. But the word in informed circles is that Minister Phil Hogan could be looking at long term plans of his own.
There is well-informed speculation in political circles this week that under possible local government reform changes, a move could be made by Environment Minister Hogan to have just one local authority for all of County Galway.
The basis for a possible merger, or replacement of the two local bodies, appears to be the line in the ‘Bord Snip’ report published some time ago, which suggests in relation to local authorities that the government should “reduce the 34 city and county councils to 22 local authorities”. Remember, this is a government which is looking about for reform and change and might not shirk from such action.
Little has been heard of the proposal by Colm McCarthy which is aimed at cost reduction at local authority level, but I understand that ‘it hasn’t gone away you know’ and is at least being discussed in high-powered circles as the government searches around for spending cuts.
One could see how there would certainly be savings in areas such as administration – for instance there might be only one planning section in an amalgamated council for the entire county.
Certainly, the amount of work in areas such as planning has tailed-off dramatically since the demise of the Celtic Tiger, with the hundreds of planning applications and one-time queues in the planning offices being replaced by a mere trickle in more recent times.
Under any such change, the Croke Park Agreement might mean job transfers, for instance, or prople moving from one department – or indeed authority – to another. Details on this are a long way from worked out and this is at a very preliminary discussion stage but it is being considered.
My instinct is that there would certainly be opposition at political level, though there is no official indication of what might happen in relation to the 15-member city council and the 30-member county council and what might replace them, or its make up and its numbers. Local areas jealously guard their input into decision-making at the best of times.
Could I venture to suggest that there would be a substantial body of opinion in the county which feels that, in such a situatiion, safeguards would have to be implemented to ensure that Galway City did not dominate the situation. I don’t think I would have to scratch the surface too deeply, for instance, to find a body of opinion which feels that Galway City has had a dominant role in the county for many years.
Key areas like Connemara might also feel that they have special planning considerations … of course, a lot would depend on the strength of any regional, local or other committees, or bodies, which, one feels, would have to be part of any restructuring.
Meanwhile, back to that row which has blown up in Fine Gael circles in Galway in recent weeks over who should be the next Mayor of Galway – the new term starts in June but there is a total standoff between Councillors Padraig Conneely and Hildegarde Naughton, with no agreement in sight.
Right now there are hushed and rather delicate discussions going on in Fine Gael circles in Galway City over the standoff between Conneely and Naughton. Both want the Mayoralty and Conneely has the backing of the sole other Fine Gael member of the City Council (Frank Fahey).
But the Hildegarde Naughton camp are standing firm on the basis that, they say, it has been understood in FG that the Mayoralty would go by ‘rotation,’ and that Padraig Conneely previously held the Mayor’s Chain, then she is entitled to the term which starts next June. There has been some tut-tutting in FG circles.
Conneely held the Mayoralty a few years ago with the highpoint being a visit to The White House on St Patrick’s Day, with photos taken with President Obama.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.