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CITY TRIBUNE

Is Noel Grealish a racist? On a scale of one to 10

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Is Noel Grealish a racist? On a scale of one to 10, like. One being not racist at all, and 10 rabidly racist. Certainly, his comments were racist.

At a meeting in Oughterard last week, the Independent Galway West TD, described Christian refugees fleeing Syria, as “genuine”; but African asylum seekers (and for African, we read ‘black’) were “economic migrants” who come to Ireland to “sponge” off the system.

The ones earmarked for the Connemara Gateway Hotel (which it has not yet been officially confirmed will be turned into a Direct Provision centre), would be the latter, opined the former Progressive Democrat.

The remarks were nasty, and hurtful to Africans living here and people in Oughterard and asylum seekers, many of whom, as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pointed out, are “fleeing war and fleeing persecution” and it is right that we, as a country, should take some people in.

Almost everybody – bar the mandarins in the Department of Justice, who are tasked with finding Direct Provision (DP) centres – is opposed to Oughterard as a base to house asylum seekers.

Leaving aside the arguments against Direct Provision as a system, even if you were fully supportive of DP, you couldn’t argue that Oughterard was an appropriate place for up to 300 asylum seekers. It just couldn’t cope and it would be wrong for both those seeking refuge, and locals.

Part of the reason why refugees are fleeing here is because we’re a stable democracy, where freedom of speech is sacrosanct and we value people’s right to express opinions. But we can recognise Noel Grealish’s right to say something, while rejecting completely what he said as racist.

Noel’s comments were wrong, too, because they stoked the flames of an already tense situation, and as a public representative, his language should have been more measured.

Even if it were true that some of those coming here are economic migrants; so what? Irish people have been emigrating for economic reasons for donkeys’ years. Noel himself has family in the US; he knows many undocumented Irish living abroad, those forced overseas because the country was broke – and broken. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Pensioners, school students, and local community groups know ‘Noeleen’ as the sound lad who buys them lunch during tours of Dáil Éireann. Carnmore hurlers know him as the sound lad who gets the pints in the local after championship games. His Oireachtas colleagues know him as the sound lad who’s handy on the golf course. Constituents, and those who work with him, know he’s a sound TD who gets things done; little things like filling out social welfare forms. It’s what gets him elected.

What ‘Noeleen’ said about African economic migrants being spongers was far from sound. It was ugly, and disappointing. And now the mask has slipped, everybody in the country knows him as the man at the centre of a racism storm in a small, picturesque town in Connemara.

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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