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Keaveney crosses the Rubicon to fire first shot of next election campaign



Date Published: 19-Dec-2012

Colm Keaveney may have used a dead language when letting the world know that he was jumping ship last week. Does it mean that his own career is now also in that extinct state, that he jumped only to find himself sinking rather than swimming?

On the Wednesday night on which the first vote on the Social Welfare Vote came up, a veteran colleague told me that Keaveney would not vote against the Government that night but wait until the next day when the specific measure to cut the respite care grant came up.

"The Colm Keaveney reelection campaign starts here," he said.

How right he was and how wrong everybody else was. Keaveney didn’t oppose the Government that night and went onto RTE’s Late Debate to more or less say that he would not be voting against the Bill (although what he said is open to interpretation).

The next morning, however, following another text in Latin ("deeds not words" was the translation) he voted against the Government on respite care.

The implications were clear. It was immediate expulsion from the Labour parliamentary party.

Politically, Labour was also cast into its biggest crisis since the Government was formed. An indication to me of the difficult and uneasy relationship Keaveney has had with Eamon Gilmore was the way in which the Tanaiste’s statement was phrased.

He never mentioned Keaveney by name in the statement but vowed that his fellow East Galway man would spend the rest of this Dail term watching the Government from the opposition benches. His sense of betrayal and anger was unmistakable. In a whole raft of interviews over the following weekend, senior Labour figures dissed Keaveney.

What caused most offence was that on Wednesday night, Keaveney had pledged loyalty and stated almost unequivocally that he would support the Government. His switching of sides essentially made him as good as dead to the Labour Party, or as a Tuam sham might say, a persona non grata.

By his own account, Keaveney had had a long night of the soul as Wednesday turned into Thursday and really only made his mind up that morning, as the Bill was debated in the chamber. The phrase he used of Julius Caesar’s as he prepared to cross the Rubicon was more apt that even he could have imagined.

For by crossing that river into Italy, Caesar precipitated a long civil war. That will be Keaveney’s fate too as he takes on the Labour patricians in a long battle over the heart and soul of the party. But from the outside, he’s going to find it an uphill struggle.

But what about his chairmanship? It’s true that it’s the members of the party and not its leadership that voted him in. And as such, as things stand at present, that position remains in the gift of the membership.

Keaveney, we must remember, was not the leadership’s preferred candidate and did extraordinarily well in getting the ordinary membership to back him.

But given the tenor of Gilmore’s utterances over the weekend, the party leader is going to move might and maim to remove the new adversary from the position. As chair, Keaveney will still (perhaps nominally) have influence but it will be awkward as he has been essentially exiled.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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