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Let us have an election so we can punish the guilty party

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Date Published: {J}

Yeah why don’t we do that? That sounds like a good idea. Get a budget that all the political parties agree to. That way it can actually pass a vote in the Dáil, there won’t have to be an election, and Fianna Fáil can stay in power.

I DON’T THINK SO.

All a cross-party budget will do is let people off the hook; the only argument is over who it lets off most. Some would see it as a let-out for the Greens, but I can’t. It’s the Budget itself that’s their real let-out. Their entire rationale for staying in power is that if they don’t, FF will run roughshod over the environment. So if the major party does try to renege on any of the commitments it made in their original agreement, the minor at last has their opportunity to hit the eject button with honour. Or what remains of it.

Even assuming that they can somehow keep the Greens on board, FF also have to placate non-party supporters of the government. So it’s easy to foresee drastic cuts to all aspects of our health and social services – unless you live within sight of a Healy-Rae. This preferential treatment, especially when compared to the electoral poison of the FF brand, must tempt many backbenchers to break the whip. I predict in fact that if there were a mass exodus, the new "I Was Never Really In FF In The First Place" party would sweep the polls.

 

The simple truth is that the FF/Green/Anybody government cannot pass the budget we need. They probably cannot even pass a half-arsed budget that would do more harm than good. Whether we like it or not we need to take serious political risks, and this government is not in a position to safely cross the road. The only way we are going to be able to have a budget in December is if it’s passed by a new Dáil with a mandate to take hard decisions.

What’s that you say – "We need to put out best minds together in this time of crisis"? Exactly. A cross-party budget would have some of FF in it, the people who didn’t even know that bubbles burst. No but seriously, if our response to difficulty is to change the rules so that no one has to take political responsibility, we’re saying that this ‘democracy’ thing is all very well on sunny days but not much good in a crisis. Why not just call it all off and allow the country to be run by a self-appointing clique of financial interests?

Yeah, well.

Democracy may not be the perfect system. It does not necessarily always promote the most able. (Hollow laugh.) But if it has a saving grace, it is that it puts into the hands of the people the power to pass judgement on their rulers – and rid themselves of them when they fail. That, and that only, makes democracy both more just and more effective than dictatorship or aristocracy.

To put it bluntly, the real reason for democracy is so that we can punish the guilty. We do not want to be ruled by committee. Give us our election now.

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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

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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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