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Bradley Bytes

Lie down with dogs and you’ll get up with fleas

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Bradley Bytes

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Rat-like cunning is said to be one of the main attributes for a successful career in journalism. The same could be true of politics.

There was rat-like cunning – and rats – in abundance during the negotiations over the city mayoral pact.

Fianna Fáil, the party that perfected the art of political shafting, was shafted in true Machiavellian style over negotiations for the five-year mayoral pact.

Some of the actions of the protagonists involved in the whole affair, and those involved ‘behind the scenes’ in the horse-trading, has ensured that their reputation for trustworthiness is now as low as crocodile piss.

Fianna Fáil thought it had reached a deal to renew the existing pact with Fine Gael and Independents, former Progressive Democrats, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty and Donal Lyons.

Mike Crowe was doing the negotiating for FF; McDonnell was batting for the Independents; mayor Pádraig Conneely was negotiating for his FG colleagues (Frank Fahy, Pearce Flannery and John Walsh).

From a political point of view, would you trust any of them, let alone the three of them in the one smoky room, to thrash out a deal?

FF was to get two mayors, FG was to get two and Independents were to get one. In the previous pact, FF had just one and Independents and FG two each.

FF says a deal was done: All that was needed was to shake on spit-filled hands. But the Independents, apparently, weren’t happy with just the one chain, and so went looking elsewhere, unbeknownst to FF.

The other crowd claims FF was fluttering its eyelashes elsewhere, and about to oust FG from the pact – a charge denied by FF. FG says FF are hypocrites.

Between the jigs and the reels and the lust for an extra chain and a few extra committees, FG and Independents decided to ditch FF, and court Labour, who, with such a weak bargaining position – with just two councillors – were more than happy to have the Crowe’s sloppy seconds.

The only ones coming out of this debacle with reputations intact is the three Shinners – Maireád Farrell, Cathal Ó Conchúir and Anna Marley – and Independent City Councillor Catherine Connolly, all of whom wouldn’t lower themselves to bartering over the trappings of power.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

First loan repayment of €880k for Crown Square to be paid in 2023 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway City Council has set aside €880,000 in next year’s budget to cover the first repayments of a 30-year loan drawn down to buy offices at Crown Square and relocate City Hall from College Road to Mervue.

The ruling pact on the Council (including Fine Gael, Green, Labour and some Independent councillors) approved the budgetary measure without much fuss at their budget meeting in November. Councillors outside the pact (Fianna Fáil, Social Democrat and Independents) backed it too.

They could have chosen to use the money instead to hire more Council workers, who would have improved the services the public received next year.

Some €880,000 would allow 70 additional staff members to be hired; or it could have been used for so many other worthwhile projects in communities across the city.

But instead, it will be used to repay debt, to make good the decision city councillors made earlier this year to approve an application for a loan from the Housing Finance Agency.

As has been reported on several occasions in this newspaper (but worryingly not in other media outlets), councillors voted this summer to apply for a loan of €45.5 million to help buy an office block in Mervue to relocate City Hall.

The cost of the deal – to move from College Road and fit out the new building – is €56.5m.

As well as the €45.5 million loan, some €11m from the City Council’s own resources need to be found to fund the property deal.

In 2023, the loan repayment is just €880,000 but that will jump to €2 million in subsequent years.

That’s around €2m for 30 years at an interest rate of 2.25%, amounting to a €17.6m repayment cost on top of the amount borrowed. So, the true cost of the loan itself would be €63.1 million.

It means that every year for the next 29 years, city councillors are going to have to find €2m in their budget to fund this move, a move that up until July nobody seemed to know anything about and that the public and ratepayers had not sought.

They will fund it by cutting back on other services, by not recruiting more staff, or not investing in useful projects and infrastructure important to the people in communities they are elected to serve.

Is there anyone brave enough to call a halt to this vanity project, before it’s too late?

(Photo: Every year for the next 29 years, city councillors are going to have to find €2m in their budget to fund cost of moving City Hall from College Road to Crown Square. a move that’s being led by City Executive Brendan McGrath).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Red faces for Greens over cuts to Galway City Council’s EV fleet

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Two Green Party members in the ruling pact on Galway City Council approved a local authority budget for 2023 that diverted money away from an investment in green transport.

The draft budget set out by Chief Executive Brendan McGrath and his financial team allocated €240,000 for ‘engineering improvements’, including a new electric fleet of vehicles for the local authority.

Green Party Councillors Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy voted with their ruling pact colleagues (Fine Gael, Labour and Independents) to spend this money on projects other than the electric fleet changeover. Councillors outside the pact (Fianna Fáil, Social Democrat and Independents) backed it too.

McGrath had earmarked the money for an electric fleet to help meet Government targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 51% by 2030. Reducing fossil fuels through electric vehicles was one intervention that would allow the City Council to play its part for climate action, he said.

“Galway City Council has shown its commitment in reducing our reliant (sic) on fossil fuels and reducing our CO2 emission by purchasing eight fully electric vehicles in 2021.

“A further 12 EV vans will be added to our fleet in 2023. Trials are also underway in using alternative fuel oils in our road sweepers to improve the carbon footprint of our fleet,” the CE said.

That aspiration has been jeopardised by councillors’ cuts to money earmarked for electric vehicles next year.

The rationale, apparently, was that there is such a high demand for EVs nationally, Galway City Council might not be able to source the vehicles to upgrade its electric fleet and, therefore, the money would not be spent at all.

But where stands those emissions’ targets now that the ruling pact including the Green Party has diverted money earmarked for electric vehicles to other projects?

Not a good look for a party that was lecturing others during the Green Party convention in Athlone last weekend.

Photo: Niall Murphy of the Green Party – a member of the Council’s ruling pact that diverted money earmarked for electric vehicles to other projects.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Only 80 people signed Galway’s book of condolences for Queen 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Only 80 people signed a book of condolences at City Hall in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.

The book was opened by the Mayor of Galway, Councillor Clodagh Higgins (FG), on September 12, four days after it was announced the United Kingdom and Commonwealth’s monarch had died. The condolences’ book closed a month later, on October 14.

It was available during normal opening hours during weekdays and so there were 25 working days in which the public could sign the book. It was not available to sign online.

Only 80 people bothered to go to City Hall to write a message in the book that has been sent to Buckingham Palace.

Classy Clodagh said she facilitated the gesture to allow members of the public in Galway to express messages of sympathy to the monarch’s family and subjects.

When she opened the book, and invited the public to sign it, Mayor Higgins said: “On behalf of Galway City Council, and the people of Galway, I would like to extend my sympathies to His Majesty King Charles, to the British Royal family, and to the British people and the members of the Commonwealth, on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout her reign, of over 70 years, she demonstrated a commitment to duty and to public service. Her passing is the end of an era, and our thoughts are with all those feeling this loss at this sad time.”

Despite the popularity of Netflix series, The Crown, and Irish people’s fascination with Royal gossip and pageantry; despite large crowds thronging the city’s streets pre-Covid to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s grandchild, Prince William and his wife Kate, who visited Galway in 2020; and despite the fact that Irish people love a good funeral, something that was borne out by the record viewing figures for the Queen’s funeral on RTÉ, Galway people didn’t bother much to sympathise in the book of condolences.

A Council spokesperson said: “A physical Book of Condolences for Queen Elizabeth was opened by Mayor Clodagh Higgins, it contained approximately 80 entries. The book of condolences has now been sent to the Royal family.”

It will, no doubt, offer great comfort to them.

(Photo: Huge crowds turned out to meet Prince William and Kate when they visited Galway in March 2020. And huge numbers watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on TV recently. But only about 80 people signed a book of condolences at City Hall in her memory).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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