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Connacht Tribune

Lessons rarely learned from political patronage mistakes

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Word in your ear...Leo Varadkar and Katherine Zappone, at a different political party.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Politics is one of those professions where its players rarely learn from mistakes – and the ill-fated appointment of Katherine Zappone to a UN envoy role is the latest in a long string of political appointments to come under the broad term of cronyism.

Few things raise the ire of the public more yet politicians – who always take the path of least resistance – cannot prevent themselves from carrying on the grand tradition.

The practice was widespread in Irish society until the last decade or two when increasing media, and public, scrutiny acted as a chilling effect.

Up until the 1990s, it was not uncommon for friends or patrons of senior politicians (usually in power) to be appointed to plum positions on boards, or for jobs in law, or the guards, or in the public service.

There’s an argument that suggests it’s necessary for the Government of the day to be involved in these processes.

If you look at the Supreme Court in the US, the appointment process is nakedly political. Those arguing for that will say removing it completely from the political sphere can be counterproductive and does not concur with the realities and complexities of life.

Leaving it to the judiciary themselves, or to a board composed of a mixture of lay and legal people, does not remove politics from it. It just transfers it over to a different type of politics.

There was a custom built up over the years that the Attorney General of the day could be appointed to the judiciary if he or she wished, when the Government of the day came to an end.

The A-G’s job is of course a political appointment. Indeed, until the Director of Public Prosecutions office was created in 1973, the A-G was also responsible for all prosecutions.

That practice has been criticised in recent years. Máire Whelan was appointed Attorney General by the Coalition government of 2011 and was seen as a Labour appointment.

However, she stayed on under Fine Gael taoiseach Enda Kenny when the government changed in 2014. When she retired from the position a year later she was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

The same happened when her successor Séamus Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court, but this time it gave rise to a great deal of controversy.

Read Harry McGee’s column in full, in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area

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A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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