Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley. From the pages of this week’s Galway City Tribune.
As Galway City Council returns after the Summer recess, we run the rule over all 18 elected members ahead of a busy schedule of meetings between now and Christmas. In short, they all ‘could do better’!
GALWAY CITY EAST
Alan Cheevers (FF)
Tends not to think before he speaks. Notion to build a stadium in Doughiska for a World Cup bid was a non-runner that boosted his profile and damaged his credibility.
Own goals aside, he’s hardworking and has cultivated a vote from the new Irish – Africans in Doughiska in particular – that position him as a future poll-topper. 7/10
Michael J Crowe (FF)
At that Bob Geldof “I don’t give two flying f*cks what you think of me” stage of life, he has assumed the role of godfather of the Council. The gimp of a man that has nothing to lose, he can attract controversy. Droll and – recently – measured in debates, he’s fed up of management’s cavalier attitude to councillors. 7/10
Owen Hanley (Soc Dem)
A work in progress. Gullible, he swallows City Hall’s propaganda without critically analysing issues – a byproduct of the rush to be ‘first’ to tweet Council “news”.
An isolated figure cut adrift from the ruling pact, he has grown in confidence during contributions to debates. Could nudge Niall Ó Tuathail off the Dáil ticket in Galway West. 7/10
Noel Larkin (Ind)
Quiet since opting out of the position of mayor in 2020, after a campaign to block him getting the chain caused controversy.
Unashamedly pro-business, he’s unafraid to speak out about issues like anti-social behaviour. Strikes a chord with a sizeable portion of the electorate by punching down. The mayoral debacle proved outspokenness can boomerang. 7/10
Declan McDonnell (Ind)
Will he run again? The most popular candidate out east in 2019, he may have reassessed his priorities during Covid-19 and after losing his grip on the ruling pact.
A big interest in planning, he’ll enjoy the nitty gritty of compiling a new Development Plan. Refunding a relatively small amount of expenses to the Council, after a Prime Time investigation found he over-claimed, doesn’t appear to have damaged him. 7/10
Terry O’Flaherty (Ind)
Another who might call it a day after this term, she’s taking heavy hits from rivals – especially Alan Cheevers – who are eyeing up the Polltopper’s wheelbarrow of first preferences. Like most of the experienced crew, she was not suited to, and struggled with, online Council meetings on Zoom but still delivered ‘on the ground’. 7/10
GALWAY CITY CENTRAL
Imelda Byrne (FF)
A leading light in equality education, she needs to bring the enthusiasm and competency of the day job as Access Officer of NUIG to her Council role.
Showed naivety with a motion calling for park-ranger community wardens; a well-intentioned but poorly worded idea. With more confidence and experience, she has potential. 7/10
Colette Connolly (Ind)
With Catherine Connolly and Pádraig Conneely gone, she’s taken on role of chief contrarian. A surprisingly competent chair of Council meetings, so far, just months into her term as mayor.
Her strengths – tenacious, questioning, rebellious, and highly sceptical of Council management – are also her main weakness: she annoys colleagues with outbursts that can alienate her. 7/10
Mike Cubbard (Ind)
Like many younger councillors, he’s obsessed with his social media image. Went overboard on Facebook posts, in particular, during his two (successful) terms as mayor but has calmed down since without compromising constituency work.
From a Council estate, he ably represents the voice of the marginalised in areas of the ward abandoned by others. Needs a thicker skin. 7/10
Frank Fahy (FG)
Has more regard for working class than your average Fine Gaeler and is ‘Left’ on most issues compared with other Blueshirts, bar law and order when he returns to type – right-of-centre, hard-line.
Occasionally highlights unusual stories – dealers using jet-skis on the Corrib to deliver drugs to Galway was one – that attract sensational headlines and ‘Are you for real?’ reactions. 7/10
Eddie Hoare (FG)
Anyone expecting outspokenness like Pádraig Conneely will be disappointed. Brings optimism and positivity that was anathema to his predecessor and, as an accountant, has a decent grasp of figures which will come in handy at Budget time. Too obsessed with social media, he could do with less cheerleading, and more questioning, of officials. 7/10
Martina O’Connor (Greens)
More to her than meets the eye. Could struggle to keep calm in the Chamber when chairing meetings as Deputy Mayor. But she is an engaged councillor who pushes the green agenda and fights for women in politics, regardless of party. Inexperienced and naive when it comes to taking officials at face value. 7/10
GALWAY CITY WEST
John Connolly (FF)
A fine example of how resilience rewards. Unseated in 2009, he didn’t make a Dáil breakthrough in 2016, but persevered and has shown hunger for the political fray since returning in 2019. One of the few elected Gaeligeoirí, he’s relishing being back on the Council questioning the executive and barking at rivals. Too sensitive. 7/10
Clodagh Higgins (FG)
A bundle of energy and enthusiasm, she appears to enjoy the job. There’s a needle between her and party colleague Eddie Hoare, suggesting both have ambitions beyond local politics.
Sloppy wording of a tweet about disability drew the misogynist wrath of keyboard warriors; and her handling of plans for a cycle-lane on Salthill Prom proved the folly of trying to be all things to all people. 7/10
Peter Keane (FF)
Not as prominent at meetings as he was prior to the pandemic, is overshadowed by more ambitious colleagues, and has given up on plans to progress to national politics.
Another one the Zoom meetings didn’t suit, the solicitor remains an asset to the largest party on the Council but is it making use of his obvious talents? 7/10
Donal Lyons (Ind)
Long live the King! Retired from An Post earlier this year, he’s adamant he’s not slowing down politically. Was frustrated by Zoom meetings, and hasn’t made the impact of previous terms. Will reign supreme in Knocknacarra for as long as he likes. 7/10
Niall McNelis (Lab)
Dubbed ‘Harry Three Pacts’ by colleagues who have disdain – and a sneaky regard – for his manoeuvring to secure a place in the ruling rainbow, he’s well able to go.
Enthusiastic and energetic, he does Trojan voluntary work wearing different hats. Needs to take off the maroon-tinted glasses, though, and realise his loyalty is to the public, not unelected officials. 7/10
Niall Murphy (Greens)
He’s no Pauline O’Reilly – his predecessor – but has the potential to be a decent councillor. The one thing standing in his way of becoming a decent councillor is that he thinks he is one already. A little less ‘I know best’, and a little more listening and learning is needed. 7/10
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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.