Galway voters wary of politicians bearing gifts

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Beware of local politicians and wannabes, bearing gifts. You already know this but it’s worth a reminder given the promises Galway Local Election candidates are making as the June 7 polling day approaches.

Take them with a pinch of salt. Why? Because the aspirations of election candidates are just that – things they would like to see happen. And while it might seem obvious, it’s worth repeating – things don’t happen just because politicians say they would like them to happen.

Take sports facilities for example. For over two decades, West United and the people of Claddagh have been promised a masterplan for South Park. Every few years, hope appears on the horizon. But then it fades again, until the next election. And still the wait goes one.

It’s the same with Kingston lands; sports facilities have been in the offing for an age but there’s no visible progress. Meanwhile, generations of children have missed out on sports activity because masterplans are gathering dust at City Hall.

One councillor’s social media post from five years ago highlighted the problem.

“I raised the matter of the Part VIII planning application for the Kingston and South Park masterplans at our recent meeting of the Environment, Recreation and Amenity SPC (Strategic Policy Committee). The (City Council) Executive have confirmed that an application will be ready for publication in Quarter 2 of 2019. I am delighted the masterplans are being progressed in this manner and I am hopeful the plans can be shovel ready in 2019,” said Fianna Fáil’s Peter Keane on December 10, 2018.

If you had the time and inclination to check, any number of councillors – from Mike Cubbard to Donal Lyons – would have said similar things.

Council management confirmed progress on plans that indicated they would be ‘shovel-ready’ by 2019. Councillors took that at face value and communicated it to their followers. If true, the sports facilities would be built and ready by now, assuming they jumped planning hurdles.

And yet, here we are in May 2024, on the eve of another Local Election and there is no sign of masterplans for South Park or Kingston. This, despite Galway City Council preparing draft plans in 2017. God only knows what happened to them and previous plans.

Last March, the Council appointed new consultants to draw up new masterplans for South Park and Kingston. The chorus of welcoming statements from politicians flooded social media faster than the Swamp on the opening night of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture. Yet, experience has taught us not to get too excited about promises this close to an election – and to be wary of politicians bearing gifts.

Pictured: The promise of a masterplan for South Park (pictured) and Kingston, seems more like kite-flying than anything concrete.. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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