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Fianna F‡il to appoint special local representatives in ‘issues led’ drive

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

A leaner, more fit-for-purpose Fianna Fail was outlined to a meeting of party rank and file members by FF Leader Micheal Martin TD in Galway last week – though he admitted the party faced a huge challenge in rebuilding itself.

He promised to push ahead with a greater democratisation of the party from grassroots level upwards, with the introduction of ‘one man one vote’ a priority reform as ordinary members got more power, especially in key decision making such as selection conventions.

And, he said, Fianna Fail would be ‘issues led.’ Among his proposals is the appointment of a series of ‘local representatives’ around the country in areas where the party does not have councillors – this is an effort to build up strength on the ground in the wake of huge losses in the 2009 Local Elections. This left the party with whole stretches of countryside in which it does not have a councillor.

Last week’s Salthill meeting, which was attended by 200 members from all over the West Galway constituency, was one of seventeen held so far around the country as FF picks up the pieces from its worst ever electoral defeat, and its worst ever share of the first preference vote nationally (16 per cent).

In Galway West, FF is down to one TD (Eamon Ó Cuív) in a constituency where it once held three seats, and in Galway East there is is just one TD (Micheal Kitt), where a few elections ago, it held three also. Compared with this, Fine Gael has four young first-time TDs in the county (Paul Connaughton, Ciaran Cannon, Sean Kyne and Brian Walsh), while Labour also has a newcomer in Derek Nolan.

 

Said Micheal Martin” “Taking the whole broad picture – and there are places where we have no candidates and no TDs – we face a very difficult and challenging journey, but I feel we can make it from the feedback I am getting at our meetings.”

He said the meeting in Galway the previous night was about building back the party. The Galway people had shown themselves to be passionate about the party and its future and, at times, had been outspoken and certainly had not ‘pulled their punches’ when it came to speaking their minds about the situation in which Fianna Fail found itself.

The meeting was closed to the press and to the ordinary members of the public but I understand that there were a few hard-hitting contributions from the floor where rank-and-file members vented their anger and annoyance at what they saw as a loss of economic sovereignty and the electoral massacre suffered by the party.

To some extent, these interventions were a follow-on to a recent Comhairle Dail Ceantair meeting held in Moycullen where some of the the contributions were very tough indeed. Members essentially wanted to know what had happened to a party which they had been entrusted to a Cabinet and the leadership.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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