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Bradley Bytes

Hypocrisy and opportunism . . . lowest form of politics

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One of the t-shirts that have gone on sale to help fund the fight against inequality at NUIG.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

“Can you not condemn rape,” asked Galway City Councillor, Pearce Flannery, of his Council colleague, Catherine Connolly, who looked baffled by the query.

Of course every right-thinking person condemns rape. But it takes a special breed of individual to use rape as a political weapon against opponents.

It was Monday evening, at the tail-end of a lengthy meeting, and Pearce proposed the following motion:

“Galway City Council absolutely and unequivocally condemns rape and sexual abuse in all of its forms. Furthermore, Galway City Council condemns and disassociates itself from any individual, group, organisation or political party that in any way deigns to facilitate any cover-up of sexual abuse or impede the investigation of sexual abuse by An Garda Síochána in any manner whatsoever.”

What in God’s name was this all about? The Catholic Church? Why rush it through, without debate? Who would the motion be sent to? Why, oh why, oh why?

It took a while for the penny to drop. But when it did, it confirmed suspicions that some politicians will stoop to any level in order to get one-up on their foes; that they’ll do anything – even table asinine notices of motion about sexual abuse – to cause maximum discomfort and embarrassment to political opponents.

Of course, Pearce was having a dig at Sinn Féin. And at its leader Gerry Adams and the IRA’s handling of historic child abuse by its members in Northern Ireland, and how it was covered-up.

The child abuse scandal that has emerged in the Republican movement North of the Border is every bit as sordid and despicable as that of the Roman Catholic Church in the South.

But, back to Monday.

The motion was designed to embarrass the two Shinners present, Anna Marley and Cathal Ó Conchúir, (the third, Maireád Farrell, was not at the meeting). It clearly didn’t work – both of them voted in favour. Of course they did; what was Pearce expecting?

Rather than calling Pearce’s bluff, and calling his motion out for what it was – a deeply cynical political stunt that insults people’s intelligence without having the courage to criticise Sinn Féin directly – the Labour, Fianna Fáil, and most independent City Councillors, like sheep, supported it, too.

For a minute we gave Pearce the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he really is concerned about rape.

But then we checked the record, and couldn’t find any statements of condemnation from him when the Fine Gael and Labour Coalition presided over budget cuts that resulted in two Rape Crisis Centres having to close doors last year when the Government couldn’t be bothered funding them because rape and sexual abuse is so low on their priority list.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Wetherspoons’ entry could transform city pub sector

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An artist's impression of the proposed Wetherspoons on Eglinton Street. The chain is owned by Brexit support Tim Martin.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

“I hope it’s a massive failure,” said a London-based confidante who loves proper ale and Galway in equal measure.

“The beer is usually great, though, unfortunately,” he added, when asked about the impending arrival of JD Wetherspoons to Galway City.

The British pub chain has transformed the industry across the water. Now that it’s planning to open at the former GPO/Carbon nightclub premises on Eglinton Street, the mood locally is mixed.

Critics say that its large outlets, serving cheap food and alcohol, in central locations, have undermined traditional family and licensee-run pubs in England.

They argue staff are paid poorly, on long shifts. This is obviously bad for the workers, but it’s not great for customers either – who wants to be served by someone who doesn’t want to be there?

Galway is lucky that it has bars where the publican licensee is hands-on (think Hughes’ in Woodquay, Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard Street or The Crane back the West, etc) or employs hospitality-specialists and career-oriented professionals who are in it for the long haul (think the Dáil Bar or Freeney’s, among many more).

Well-paid and well-looked-after staff, or owner/licensee occupiers are generally preferable to pubs run by part-timers or transient workers. There’s a symbiotic relationship between drinker and publican/staff in those ‘proper’ local bars that are peppered across the city.

But will that change if Wetherspoons gets a foothold after a €2.5m investment in the Three Red Sails bar and restaurant over two floors?

Our London beer-fly said: “He’ll buy some beer that’s close to expiring – perfectly fine for drinking – and sells it at a bulk discount. Breweries say he’s great to deal with.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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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