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CITY TRIBUNE

Larkin mayoral U-Turn – Travellers have last laugh

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Some of the people protesting outside Leisureland where the City Council meeting to elect the Mayor was held last Friday.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that political protest is futile. Just ask City Councillor Noel Larkin; he’d know.

Instead of basking in the glory of being elected Mayor of Galway by a majority of his peers last Friday, the Independent politician was this week licking his wounds wondering where it all went wrong.

On Friday, at the Council AGM, instead of taking the mayoral chain from the incumbent, Noel ‘the drone’ Larkin found himself in the strange position of nominating fellow Independent, Mike Cubbard, to remain on for a second term as First Citizen.

Cubbard was duly elected, without a vote, and without any dissenting voices from Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. He is the first mayor to serve back-to-back terms since Brendan Holland, who was mayor from 1965-1967.

That’s not how it was supposed to pan out, though. Under the ruling Rainbow pact, Noel Larkin was due to be elected mayor, with the backing of Independents Donal Lyons, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Colette Connolly and Mike Cubbard; Labour’s Niall McNelis; Social Democrat Owen Hanley; and Greens Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy. That was the agreement. So what went wrong? Noel Larkin’s past comments about Travellers, immigrants and social housing tenants came back to haunt him.

On Wednesday, Larkin was still insisting publicly he ‘had the numbers’, and backing of his pact colleagues to become mayor.

Thursday night, he informed the pact he would not be letting his name go forward as mayor. Friday, he publicly dismissed the suggestion that his decision had anything to do with protests – in consultation with family, he decided to focus on his business, which like most, was facing challenges due to Covid-19.

Several things fed into the U-turn. Mike Crowe’s tweet, indicating Fianna Fáil would support Cubbard remaining on as mayor, was a game-changer; so, too, was Owen Hanley’s wobble, and statement ahead of the vote that he was not prepared to support Larkin, despite agreeing to when the pact deal was negotiated 12 months ago.

But the real pressure came from people power. Galway Traveller Movement, Galway Anti-Racism Network, and People Before Profit ratcheted-up the pressure.

They lobbied each councillor in the pact, bombarding them with calls and messages, telling them exactly what they thought of Larkin, and divisive comments he has made.

An online petition, set up by Adrian Curran (PBP) garnered 1,300 signatures against Larkin’s proposed mayoralty. A crowd with placards protested at Leisureland before the AGM – a glimpse, perhaps, of what might have happened at every official mayoral engagement had he not stepped aside.

The events of last week confirm that ordinary citizens taking a stand can change outcomes. And they prove that in public life, there are consequences for unsavoury public utterances.

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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