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Manager’s ‘bullying tactics utter contempt for democracy’ – Councillor



Date Published: 15-Dec-2009

THE full waiver system for domestic waste collection – applying to about 3,500 lower income households in the city – has been scrapped, although a compromise system whereby charges would only ‘click in’ for waiver customers when they exceed a certain weight has been agreed.

Commercial rates have also been frozen for Galway City Council’s Budget in 2010 and commercial water charges will be increased, although not by as much as had originally been proposed by Council officials. City Manager, Joe Mac-Grath, proposed in his annual Budget at Friday’s Council meeting that the waiver will, from 2010, only apply to the annual standing charge of €159 – leaving the lower income households to foot the bill for waste in their grey, green and brown bins.

Mr MacGrath warned councillors that he could not run a waste service with a subsidy of €1.4 million and, although he was conscious of the needs of disabled, elderly and Social Welfare recipients, he would not grant waivers next year on the same basis as 2009. If the waiver system remained unchanged, the Council would not be in a financial position to continue its waste service, he added.

He also threatened councillors that if they did not come up with a viable alternative waiver system, he would use his executive powers to push through his original proposal. “I will sign an executive order to push through my proposal,” he warned.

But the controlling pact on the Council of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independents (former Progressive Democrats), after intense negotiations, received a significant concession whereby the waiver on the standing charge remains and waiver customers will only be charged for the cost of the weight of their bins once it exceeds €250.

Yesterday, a senior Council official said that the average waste per household currently would not normally exceed this figure. Ciaran Hayes, Director of Services, added that the new system acts as an incentive to recycle and not to exceed the €250 charge.

Mayor of Galway City, Councillor Declan McDonnell agreed with the City Manager at Friday’s meeting that in some cases the waiver system was being “abused”, with known ‘waiver bins’ used to take waste from other paying customers. Cllr McDonnell said the City Manager has committed to looking at all ‘hardship cases’ on a case by case basis and they will be looked favourably on.

The five Labour Party Councillors and Independent Catherine Connolly did not support tampering with the waiver system and lambasted the controlling pact for hitting the most vulnerable in society. Cllr Billy Cameron (Lab) rounded on Fine Gael and Cllr Padraig Conneely in particular for “selling-out” the constituents they purport to represent.

“You (Cllr Conneely) are using disabled people in the Westside to get your photo into the paper but these are the same people who are on the waiver system and you are selling them out now. You say you are a man of the people but you’ve been found out for speaking on both sides of your mouth,” he said.

However, Cllr Brian Walsh (FG) said their proposals would protect the vulnerable because the alternative scenario of abolishing the waiver would be pushed through by the City Manager anyway and by coming up with an alternative, his party was doing more to protect the vulnerable than Labour.

Catherine Connolly said the City Manager’s “bullying tactics” showed utter contempt for local democracy and added the controlling pact “cowed down” to him rather than standing up to his bullying.


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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



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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