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Bradley Bytes

Mayor’s election-free Easter punt pays off

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Mayor Mike gives a thumbs-up to February election which avoids a clash with his Easter charity ball.

Bradley Bytes – A Sort of Political Column with Dara Bradley

Political pundits have been boring us for two years, at least, about when the next General Election will be held.

For ‘experts’, they have been remarkably inaccurate about the timing of the election.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose prerogative it was to ‘go to the Áras’ and call an election, kept everyone guessing.

And of course, so too did the opposition, and Fine Gael’s ‘Confidence and Supply’ partners who were propping up the Government, Fianna Fáil.

It made planning an election campaign for the first half of this year difficult for sitting TDs and would-be TDs, although in reality they’ve all been on election footing for many months.

We now know the election will be held on Saturday, February 8.

Spare a thought for Mayor Mike Cubbard, who had the unenviable task of having to organise a mayoral ball before the end of May, hoping that it wouldn’t coincide with polling day, and the count.

In the end, Mayor Mike chose Easter Saturday, April 11, for the charity ball, which will raise funding for ACT for Meningitis, Galway Autism Partnership, Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Rosabel’s Rooms.

His reasoning? “I figured it was the only weekend we were guaranteed there’d be no General Election. It’s hard to see Fine Gael go to the polls Good Friday,” he said.

 

 Galway 2020 just can’t buy a break!

News of a General Election being held on Saturday, February 8, will come as a disappointment to Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture . . .

 

*For more Bradley Bytes see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

City Council pays €120k to orange bollards’ company

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For a while, the joke was that just like Londoners with rats, people in Galway were never more than two feet away from an orange bollard. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Do you remember last year, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Government fired a heap of cash at local authorities to do stuff – any stuff – under the general guise of ‘mobility’?

And then do you remember, we all tentatively emerged from our cocoons and discovered the city centre had been overrun by a new species, the orange bollard?

The running joke for some time locally was that – just like rats in London – in Galway you’re never more than two feet away from an orange bollard.

Yeah, well, the company that supplied Galway City Council with those gaudy orange bollards was paid over €120,000 for transport equipment during the pandemic.

Not all of it was spent on bollards that are so bright they can, like the Great Wall of China, be seen from space. But a fair chunk of it was.

According to records released to Galway City Tribune, under Freedom of Information (FOI), the Council made dozens of payments to Drogheda-based IPL Group Ltd between February 2020 and May 2021.

The amount paid to IPL Group during that time totalled over €120,000. Records indicate that as much as €67,510 of this outlay was on bollards, including semi-permanent orange ones.

A little over €30,000 was spent by the Council in May and June 2020, as we emerged from lockdown; including thousands on orange and white, and black and white, road flexi-bollards with reflective tape.

In July, it spent €12,000 on black and white quick-flex bollards; and in September, it ordered more orange, and black and white bollards to the value of €18,000. Last February, the records show, the Council spent a further €6,500 on more orange and white bollards with reflective resin tape.

As well as bollards, over €50,000 was spent with IPL Group on speed ramps, pole-retention sockets and plugs, and Weebol Flex signs, a bollard variation.

We don’t know how many bollards the Council bought off IPL, nor do we know the price per bollard.

The City Council said: “The unit price of each item was redacted. This is because the cost of the items will be known to competitors, and they may contain discounts from the supplier to Galway City Council. Disclosure of this unit price may jeopardise the competitive position of the supplier in that they may be undercut in future tender competitions by competitors as they will know what they charged for these items to Galway City Council.

“Furthermore, the release of this information may reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct or outcome of contractual or other negotiations of the supplier to whom the information relates. Release of records describing a possible discount to Galway City Council may affect any negotiation with another consumer or purchaser.

“The number of units procured per item was also redacted, as it may be the case that the total price may be divided by the number of units procured and may give an indication of unit price.”

Aside from the nonsense that the City Council won’t reveal the price per bollard for fear its supplier is undercut – and by extension it and the ratepayer might get cheaper bollards – was it money well spent?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Number of TDs in next Dáil to increase in boundary review

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Éamon Ó Cuív: a bit of an anorak when it comes to boundary reviews.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

A major shake-up of Dáil Éireann is on the cards to reflect population changes since the last Census.

And it means that Galway could be in line for another Teachta Dála, or a re-jig of its constituency boundaries, or both.

There hasn’t been a Census since 2016, and one is due to take place in 2022. But, according to population estimates issued by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) earlier this year, there are currently more than five million people living in Ireland.

Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív (FF), reckons that in order to comply with the Constitution, “the absolute minimum” number of TDs needed after the Census is completed “will be 167”.

Currently, there are 160. But Dev Óg – a bit of an anorak when it comes to boundary reviews – says “the number of TDs could increase by seven or even more than that to allow for the rapidly and continuously growing population”.

An electoral boundary review will have to take place after the Census is completed. That review will reflect the changes in population trends.

The former Minister believes that after the review, there will be a “significant increase in the number of Dáil Deputies in the next Dáil”.

This, he says, “could have a significant impact on the outline of Dáil constituencies, particularly in and around urban areas such as Galway.

“We also don’t know what effect Covid will have on stabilising and growing rural populations”, he says.

Dev Óg isn’t one for speculation about the make-up of constituencies, post-review. But it’s worth considering the impacts that population changes might have on Dáil representation here in Galway.

In any review, the boundary commission would look firstly at Donegal, which is a five-seater. If population trends allow, that could go to two three-seaters and then there is a domino effect the whole way down the Western seaboard.

Do you put Roscommon and Leitrim back together? What will happen to Mayo – it went from six TDs (two three-seaters) twenty years ago to five to four, but it had too high a population for four seats and so South Mayo was moved into Galway West.

Galway West – which has five seats and includes the city – cannot go to a six-seater, but it could shed areas like South Mayo.

However, Covid-19, which has resulted in some inward migration to rural areas due to Working From Home practices, might mean that the population of Mayo has stabilised and so South Mayo cannot go back.

That would mean a major reconfiguration of the constituencies within the County of Galway. Could Galway West shed Oranmore, for example, and what impact would that have on Galway East? And what impact would that have on Galway/Roscommon, which takes in areas around Ballinasloe?

Could Galway West be split into two three-seaters and Galway East and Roscommon Galway reconfigured to create three three-seat constituencies in County Galway, leaving out Roscommon and South Mayo?

The only certainty is that due to population growth, there won’t be a decrease in the number of TDs representing Galway.

(Photo: Éamon Ó Cuív: a bit of an anorak when it comes to boundary reviews).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Unvaccinated city councillors can’t attend in-person Council meetings

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

City councillors, local authority employees, media and the public cannot attend in-person meetings of Galway City Council unless they are vaccinated.

The City Council is not allowed to ask staff if they are vaccinated. But in order to attend monthly Council meetings, which for Covid reasons are now taking place in the Galmont Hotel instead of City Hall, councillors and the Council executive must produce Covid certs.

No vaccine, no in, and as comedian Pat Shortt might add, ‘Ye may as well go back to town’ – or, in this case, back to attending meetings online on Zoom if you can’t prove you are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid within six months).

The situation means that the highly unsatisfactory hybrid meetings – with attendees online and in person – will continue for the foreseeable.

It also raises issues of fairness and of the rights of those who are unvaccinated – for whatever reason – to attend their place of work. City councillors and the management team of Galway City Council are employees. Do they not have the same rights as the rest of us to attend their place of employment?

Well, it turns out no; not when their place of employment is outsourcing its meetings to a private hotel.

The practice of attendees having to fill out self-health declaration forms, stating they have no symptoms remains in place, the same as it was for Council meetings in the publicly owned Leisureland.

Attendees of the November Council meeting were told that the Galmont Hotel, “will be checking for vaccination certification as per their guidelines below, as it is required for indoor hospitality.”

The Fáilte Ireland guidelines, included in the email, said: “Government regulations in relation to evidence of Covid-19 vaccination or immunity following recovery should be implemented. Organised indoor events and mass gatherings are permitted where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 within previous six months) or accompanied minors (under 18). It is important that businesses should check photo ID when checking proof of immunity. There are some limited circumstances when this may not be necessary e.g. where a person is well-known to the business. Unaccompanied minors are required to present proof of immunity.”

Most people will accept the guidelines, given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and for the greater good. But being asked to produce vaccine certs in order to go to work does stray into a grey area . . . and it’s one the anti-vaxxers will have a field day with.

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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