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Bradley Bytes

Hildegarde has caught Lovely Lorraine’s bug

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column

Galway-based senator Hildegarde Naughton has caught the bug.

The ‘Shameless use of the Seanad to get elected to the Dáil bug’, that is.

Or as we in Bradley Bytes like to call it for short, the Lovely Lorraine Higgins’ bug, in honour of the Athenry-based senator who unashamedly uses her Taoiseach’s nomination to the Seanad as a springboard for her Dáil prospects in Galway East.

Not because Lorraine was first to be struck with the bug but because she’s one of the worst sufferers of it.

It was bound to happen to Hildegarde; and it was only a matter of time before it spread, what with her being in such close proximity to senators these past few weeks.

The bug manifests itself in Hildegarde in her press releases in which she signs off as “Senator Hildegarde Naughton, Fine Gael – Galway West Constituency”. Which is fine except it gives the impression that she’s a senator representing the Galway West constituency.

But there’s no such thing as constituencies based on geography in the Seanad, only the Dáil. Hildergade was appointed to the Seanad as the Taoiseach’s nominee.

She’s not there to represent the people of the Galway West Dáil constituency.

She knows it. Her political colleagues and foes know it. The electorate know it.

But that won’t stop her giving the impression she’s there to represent the voters in Galway West.

Sure what’s the point in being in the Seanad if you can’t use the position to get votes to get into the Dáil in the General Election, eh Hildegarde? Just ask Lovely Lorraine. 

Punch and Judy politics, Irish shtyle

How health politics works: man who wasn’t very good at his job, calls on the current man in the job, who isn’t very good at the job, to resign because he’s not very good at his job.

The man who is in the job even though he’s not very good at the job rejects the resignation calls from the guy who was in the job prior to him even though he wasn’t that good at it.

Man who calls for the resignation gets publicity.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Ex-TD, ‘Our Nuala’ and some surprising DNA test results!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

In March 2011, Nuala Nolan was co-opted onto Galway City Council to represent the City East ward.

She replaced her namesake, Derek Nolan as a city councillor; he progressed on to Dáil Éireann after topping the poll in the General Election some weeks previous.

Our Nuala was anointed after a stiff selection convention contest where she saw off a number of challengers for the position.

When asked about his replacement, Derek Nolan’s stock answer about Nuala Nolan was always: “No relation.”

But it turns out that is not strictly true!

Our Nuala, who has since defected to Aontú, tells us that an immediate family member of Derek’s (who was reunited with his Labour buddy, Councillor Níall McNelis, at party stalwart John McDonagh’s wedding recently) has taken a DNA test. And it has produced some interesting results.

It turns out that Derek and Nuala “come up as a match; fourth cousins”, she said.

This, according to Our Nuala, was “hardly surprising”, despite Derek’s previous protestations, “given that both our parents come from Ballyloughane” in Renmore.

She said that ‘No Relation Derek’ may be “surprised” by the results but added: “DNA does not lie, for sure.”

In fairness, there is a resemblance between the two. Christmas round the Nolans’ should be fun!

(Photo: Long-lost cousins, Nuala Nolan and Derek Nolan. Nuala was co-opted onto Galway City Council in 2011 to replace Derek when he was elected a TD. Derek, who now lives in Australia always stated that they weren’t related but a DNA test shows they are).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Labour is working hard to stand still in Galway

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway City used to be fertile ground for the Labour Party. There was a time, not so long ago, when Labour was the largest party on Galway City Council.

In 2009, Billy Cameron, Colette Connolly, Derek Nolan, Tom Costello and Níall McNelis held five seats out of 15. Now, Labour has one out of 18. McNelis, a former Fine Gael candidate, is the sole flag-bearer for the Red Rose party on the local authority.

Much of the popular jeweller’s vote is personal, rather than an endorsement of the party. The Labour brand could be more a hindrance than a help for him.

Labour haemorrhaged support in the 2014 Local Election, losing three City Council seats. Only Comrade Cameron and McNelis survived. That trend continued when Labour’s core voters in the working suburbs of Galway City turned their backs on the party in 2016.

Die-hards were betrayed by the top-brass who had promised so much in the 2011 General Election but failed to deliver.

First-time TD, Derek Nolan who rode the Gilmore Gale and topped the poll in 2011, was unceremoniously dumped five years later. Labour hasn’t recovered.

McNelis polled strongly in City West to be re-elected in 2019. But John McDonagh failed to hold the retiring Comrade Cameron’s seat (albeit that one vote was the difference between him and fellow Shantalla candidate, Martina O’Connor) in City Central.

And it was a disaster altogether in City East, where Liam Boyle came 13th out of 16 candidates, behind relatively unknown rivals in Solidarity, Renua and the Greens. The defection of long-serving member, Pat Hardiman, who ran last-minute as an Independent, highlighted how the party organisation was in disarray. Galway County Council is a wasteland for Labour, too.

The problem for Labour now is the electorate has moved on. Sinn Féin (which had a disastrous Local Election, losing all of its three seats on Galway City Council in 2019), occupies the space on the Left where Labour used to be.

Independents like Mike Cubbard, and former Labour councillor, Colette Connolly, offer Labour supporters an alternative without the toxicity or baggage of the brand.

And the Social Democrats and Green Party (also, to an extent, the liberal wings of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) mean that social issues like abortion and LGBT+ rights are no longer a Labour niche.

Dumping the gruff Alan Kelly as leader has made zero tangible, positive difference in Galway; it’s hard to imagine his replacement, Ivana Bacik, swaying many undecided voters in former heartlands of Shantalla and Corrib Park.

A party source denied it was struggling to find candidates for the fast-approaching Locals in 2024. The source said Labour has four “very strong” candidates lined up to run, two each in City Central and City East. The target is three seats; that’s a gain of two, plus McNelis to hold.

The Labour source added: “We have candidates who will be unveiled in the autumn. They’re candidates of diversity and gender balance. I’m not giving any names but they are all new candidates; very, very strong candidates.”

They’d want to be!

(Photo: In the 2019 Local Elections, Niall McNelis was the only Labour Party candidate to be elected to Galway City Council, when he held his seat. There was a time in the recent past when Labour had five seats on the Council).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the August 5 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Junkets and borrowings: the boom is back at Galway’s City Hall!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The boom is back and it’s getting boomier.

How else do you explain how councillors voted, almost unanimously, to apply for a €45.5m loan to buy a new headquarters for Galway City Council?

The total capital outlay will be €56.5 million, with annual loan repayments of up to €2m for 30 years.

The Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, publicly acknowledged the developer for charging them 2021 prices for a transaction that isn’t due to be completed until later this year. A bargain, in other words.

And there was a rake of reasons given for why leaving College Road and buying Crown Square was a good idea.

But, essentially, the City Council management has solved a problem nobody realised existed. When was the last time you heard anyone complaining down at the Crane Bar, or at Pearse Stadium, or at the Arts Festival Big Top, or at Ballybrit Racecourse, or at Blackrock Diving Tower, that what Galway really needs is a new City Hall? Never.

Not one person on the streets of Galway wants this; certainly not the ratepayers or taxpayers, who will ultimately pick up the tab. Even the elected members don’t particularly want it, especially when they know deep down that the money could be used on real, tangible things like footpaths or playgrounds for their constituents.

True, the BER rating on the existing City Hall, built in the 1980s and extended 20 years ago, is not as green as the new build they plan to buy.

And it would be preferable for the organisation to be based in one location, rather than renting out several offices to accommodate the spillover of staff. But this is a Celtic Tiger style proposal, tabled as economic storm clouds gather and when there are far greater needs that should be prioritised.

The other signal that the boom is back, came in an email from Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, informing councillors that in future they should all go on trips abroad!

In the email copied to all councillors, Mr McGrath relayed a Corporate Policy Group discussion about twinning and sister city arrangements.

“During the discussion, there was a strong sense that all elected councillors should receive the opportunity over the life of a Council to visit our most proactive sister cities/twinning partners,” he said.

A junkets charter by any other name, which, he said, would be discussed in more detail in the autumn. They don’t have to wait ’til then for the trips abroad, though. Oh no.

Mr McGrath told councillors that, this summer, for the Mayor of Galway’s annual jaunt to Chicago/Milwaukee, “it is proposed that three other members of the City Council will accompany the Mayor”.

So that’s four city councillors (plus officials) in total that City Hall plans to send to represent Galway Stateside from August 14-23, taking in Chicago and Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Mr McGrath said that if more than three councillors volunteered to go, Mayor Clodagh Higgins would draw lots, to determine the lucky trio who will accompany her on the delegation abroad.

Oh the boom is back, baby!

(Photo: City Council CE Brendan McGrath told councillors that, during a Corporate Policy Group discussion, ‘there was a strong sense that elected councillors should receive the opportunity over the life of a Council to visit our most proactive sister cities/twinning partners’)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the July 29 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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