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Kenny snub to neighbours leaves Galway in the cold

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Lost out...former Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I was on leave last week and stayed (mostly) away from current affairs. Like the Garda holding the speed radar in the Kit Kat ad, the moment I turned my back, all hell broke less.

A slight exaggeration, but the reshuffle of the junior Cabinet did turn out to be almost as eventful as the one involving senior Ministers the week before.

It was always known that when the axe fell in Fine Gael, most of the action would be taking place in the junior ranks.

Enda Kenny is a minimalist by nature. A lot of his thinking was informed by a disastrous reshuffle in the 1980s in which Garret FitzGerald tried to chop and change but which backfired spectacularly. The 2010 leadership battle showed that Kenny can be ruthless but against that he is incredibly loyal to those who support him. So there was a genuine belief right up to the end that Jimmy Deenihan might be saved.

That loyalty did not really extend to the junior ranks. He had some room for manoeuvre. Paschal Donohoe had been promoted; Brian Hayes had moved on to Europe. There were another two who could not be moved. Paul Kehoe is one of his most loyal lieutenants and would not be sacked. However, it was never likely he would be promoted so he stayed put as chief whip.

The other certainty was Michael Ring. If Kenny sacked Ring as a junior minister, there would have been all-out war in Mayo and that was the last thing a Taoiseach defending in a constituency with a reduced seat count needed.

But the others were tumbled. Fergus O’Dowd, John Perry, Ciaran Cannon and Dinny McGinley were all sacked, all of them replaced by Fine Gaelers of the younger generation –  Simon Harris, Dara Murphy, Damien English and Joe McHugh.

With such a large parliamentary party, with such a geographical divide and with such a limited number of seats it was always going to be hard for Kenny to satisfy his own TDs.

But that said, the new selections were attacked under three counts: the lack of women, the poor geographical spread; and the lack of expertise of one of the appointments.

Let’s deal with them in turn. Back in 2011, there was justified criticism of the disproportionately large male representation in Cabinet. Some of this was directed at Labour and then leader Eamon Gilmore’s decision to promote only one woman.

Well that woman is now leader and it was always a certainty that Joan Burton would correct that balance by promoting a female colleague to senior Ministry. And that choice was Jan O’Sullivan who is very efficient and relatively effective but who won’t be the most dynamic Minister of Education in the history of the State.

On the Fine Gael side, Heather Humphreys was a surprise choice. She has been a solid backbencher but there is absolutely no evidence she has a feel or knowledge of Arts, Hertitage and the Gaeltacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Double trouble as past and present show State’s failings

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Catherine Corless...her work prompted public inquiry.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

This week offered two very good examples of the failings of Irish society – past and present – with the publication of the report into the mother and baby homes, and the coronavirus crisis unfolding before our eyes. The 6,000 page report on 18 institutions – operating at various times after the foundation of the State in 1922 right up to the 1990s – was inspired by the research of Galway historian Catherine Corless, and her invaluable work in understanding why there was such a discrepancy between the mortality records and burial records at the Bon Secours-run home in Tuam.

As is usual with Irish politics, there was a row about its launch. The Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, had promised survivors of the homes that they would find out about its details before anybody else.

Unfortunately, as so often happens these days, somebody in Government decided it would be a good idea to leak the main findings of the report ahead of its launch.

O’Gorman was incensed; he demanded an investigation and wrote to survivors telling them he was “deeply angered” by all that had happened.

You can see why. In the past, survivors of these institutions have learned of very important and salient information through the media, rather than from Government.

On December 3, O’Gorman promised survivors that he and the Taoiseach would disclose the main findings to them first, and then host a seminar (it’s web-based now, because of restrictions) and only then would the report be published.

But what happened on Sunday played puck with the plan. It also served as a huge distraction from what should have been a formal process, where the pain, the suffering and heartbreak caused by these cruel institutions were fully acknowledged and apologised for.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Light in sight – but at the end of a very long tunnel

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Hard at work…members of the UHG COVID 19 vaccination team on site at UHG (from left) Michelle McNamara, Lorraine Courtney and Mairead Monahan.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

How is 2021 going to pan out? We know already what the next month is going to be like, and probably February too. It will be March and April 2020 revisited. No school (for now). No travel. No anything outside 5km from home, and probably 2km later in the month.

It’s like a trapdoor opened over the last fortnight and everything we had stored up disappeared down a hole.

After weeks in which the figures dipped down to 200 or 300 and Ireland was among the top two or three States in Europe, we slipped right down the pecking order.

On Christmas Day the number of cases went over 1,000 for the first time in over two months. It dipped a little over the next day or two because the number of people who went in for texts over the holiday period dipped dramatically.

And then that phrase that has become so dreadfully familiar to us all over the past year recurred: exponential growth.

On December 29, the figures leaped to 1,500, and stayed around that level until New Year’s Day.

Two trends were also happening. Three times as many people were being tested and the percentage of people who were testing for positive was also rising alarmingly.

On December 21, some five per cent of those tested were positive. By January 3, that number had increased five-fold to 25 per cent.

That means that one in four of all people who went for a test were positive for Covid. And there was a hell of a lot of people going for tests: 28,000 on January 3.

The numbers were just rocketing out of control – 1,754 on January 1; 3,394 on January 2; 4,692 on January 3, and a staggering 6,110 on January 4.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Let’s focus on the light at the end of the tunnel

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Lorna Quinn, Assistant Director of Nursing and peer vaccinator at UHG, about to become the first person to receive the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Galway, from Michelle McNamara Nee, Clinical Nurse Manager 2, Major Theatre Recovery, UHG.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

About a mile from where I live in Dublin, you reach the banks of the River Dodder. Like a lot of Irish rivers, the more civic-minded authorities of recent years have begun to make these wonderful places more accessible to people.

There’s a path along stretches of the river’s banks and one day soon, you will be able to walk along it from Ringsend as far as Tallaght and then into the Dublin mountains.

Those paths – and the public parks you encounter along the way – have always been popular with walkers and runners and picnicking families and nature photographers and angler.

But popular was a relative term before the pandemic. On fine days during lockdown, the paths were as clogged as the Liffey Quays or the M50 during rush-hour, as thousands of families and individual who had never bother before discovered the ‘marvel of the micro’.

People would spend hours watching the kingfisher (An Cruidín in Irish) dive from its low perch in a small spectacular colour explosion of cobalt blue and tangerine orange.

Or the heron (Corr Réisc) standing still above the weir. Or the little dipper (which has the gorgeous Irish name of gabha dubh) diving under where the waters cascade. Of the fox (madra rua/sionnach) sleeping on the far bank, or the occasional sight of an otter (madra uisce).

My running route had taken me along the banks of the river for about four kilometres a few times a week since moving here in 2017 but I never really stopped and took time to stop and stare at the simple, tiny, quotidian things that were happening (and always happened) right under my eyes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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