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Connacht Tribune

Kenny more preoccupied with what can’t be done than what can




Independents' Day? Taoiseach Enda Kenny appeared to enjoy Bruce Springsteen's concert more than his first hundred days in office dealing with his Independent colleagues

The tradition of the first 100 days of Government was dreamed up by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s when he set out an agenda for the first three months and ten days of his administration.

These were all the things he was going to do in that crucial window or time, to help the bloodstream of the United States economy – spectacularly coagulated by the 1929 Wall Street Crash – flow again.

Roosevelt came into government during a deep damaging recession, and the first 100 days ruse was a master-stroke to show his determination to lift the US out of that depression.

There has been hardly a new government since then that has rejected the yardstick of the first 100 days. This will be where we set out our stall, they say. This is how we will start and how we will intend to go on, they shout.

As time has gone on it has been hijacked by the marketeers to render it meaningless. It’s now become cat nip for the parties in Government and for the media, who use it as some kind of great first test for the new administration.

The Programme for Government contains about fifteen ‘first 100-day’ commitments, and another five or so in the short side-deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

The imperatives arising from the big election issues such as suspending water charges; a housing and homelessness initiative. It also includes promises that reflected the new political realities such as the new budgetary process, where a new Budget committee has been set up to decide the Budget.

There are also concessions to the Independent Alliance such as the scrapping of special areas of conservation on 46 raised bogs and commitments for an early report on the feasibility of the western rail corridor.

But ironically, the first 100 days has been all about what Fine Gael could not do in government, rather than what it could.

Indeed for most of that time, there were lingering doubts as to whether or not the first 100 days of this Government might also be the last 100 days of this Government.

Running a Government 20 shy seats of a majority might be the norm in Scandinavia, but it has been a novel experience here.

The reality is that Fine Gael has been like a clipped eagle since May, unable to assert its own identity or to impose its vision or ideals on the Government.

It’s not all Fine Gael’s fault. It simply doesn’t have the numbers. These days it’s all about deals and compromises.

Ironically if you look at the team on paper, it’s the most right-of-centre government in the history of the State. There’s no Labour Party to temper the low taxes and law-and-order of Fine Gael. And two of the three senior Ministers – Denis Naughten and Shane Ross – are both of Fine Gael stock.

Barring a catastrophe (and that could come in the form of a series of poor polls), Kenny will remain in situ for another year at least, before handing over the reins.

What it has singularly failed to do since coming into power is to call anybody’s bluff. Every time it has been threatened by the Opposition or its own Independents, it has capitulated.

If the party continues to do that, it will have no credibility. It needs to hang tough on its fundamental issues or else it will be seen as a weak proxy for Fianna Fáil.

For more political analysis from Harry see this week’s Tribune here

Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan



Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan



Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley



Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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