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Bradley Bytes

Michael D Castro obit raises ‘El Che’ statue from the dead

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, came under sustained attack in recent weeks for his tribute to fellow socialist leader, Fidel Castro.

The usual suspects on the raving right condemned Michael D for his obituary, which was gushing in its praise for the Cuban revolutionary.

Glossing over Castro’s human rights’ record, the former Labour Party Galway West TD preferred instead to focus on the positives of his reign: unrivalled literacy rates and a healthcare system admired the world over.

Michael D said Castro will be “remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people, but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet”.

There was just one line in his 468-word statement that hinted at criticism of the controversial Castro.

“The economic and social reforms introduced were at the price of a restriction of civil society, which brought its critics,” said Michael D.

But whatever about the merits of his eulogy, surely what it does do is raise again the spectre of a Galway monument, to Castro’s buddy, who helped launch the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara?

Billy Cameron, a Labour Party City Councillor, and the last remaining radical on the City Council, was browbeaten when in 2012 he proposed a monument to Che Guevara in Galway City, the home of his ancestors.

El Che’s grandmother was Ana Lynch y Ortiz, and her family fled Galway in the middle of the 18th Century for a better life in South America.

Given that every city councillor nowadays seems to be getting a statue of their own (Polltopper Terry O’Flaherty just this week unveiled a 1916 statue in Mervue, despite the Shinners having already erected one in the area), surely now is the opportune time for Comrade Cameron to re-float his ‘El Che’ monument proposal.

As it happens, Michael D is due to visit Cuba early next year. And – presuming Castro’s death doesn’t scupper the trip – Comrade Cameron is planning a holiday, at his own expense, to coincide with the State visit.

Michael D’s Castro statement might give the Bould Billy the stomach to reignite the argument for a Che Guevara statue. Why not?

If nothing else, it might reawaken Declan Ganley, who led the opposition to the original plan four years ago. It’s been a while since the Libertas leader has waded into public debate. We’re due a good laugh.

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

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Cllr Michael Crowe and Travellers: anatomy of an apology

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

At 8.58am on the morning of Monday, September 23, former mayor Michael John Crowe issued a statement to his supporters, and to some media, on WhatsApp.

In it, the City East councillor criticised Galway City Council for buying a house in Renmore for Traveller-specific accommodation.

Traveller culture, he said, was “not conducive” to “living in with most settled cultures”.

Mixing Traveller and settled people “regularly leads to confrontation and general uneasiness”, he added. Those were among the political dog whistles in the statement.

Citing his capacity as chairman of the soccer club in Renmore, and someone who was involved with St James’ GAA Club, he said that putting Travellers into the house was “unwelcome” and not in the “best interest” of Renmore.

The statement flagged that he would be on local radio to discuss the issue. “If you wish to comment while I’m on you can text 53995,” he said.

After 9.25am, he went on local radio, and in a one-on-one interview, elaborated and doubled-down on comments he’d made in the statement.

Galway Traveller Movement condemned MJ’s statement and interview, and said Travellers were “hurt and upset” by the inflammatory anti-Traveller remarks that “brought us back decades in the fight for equality”.

Twitter did as Twitter does: it erupted. There was outrage for 24, maybe 48 hours on the social media platform, with Travellers, politicians and others all condemning Mike Crowe.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy even raised the matter in Dáil Éireann with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

MJ stood firm though. In an interview with this newspaper on Thursday morning, he was more conciliatory – he was prepared to meet with Travellers and he wanted an ‘open and frank’ discussion –  but he did not and was not, at that point, prepared to withdraw his comments.

He believed what he had said was “correct and right”. . . I don’t believe it is anti-this or anti-that”, he said

That was just before 11am last Thursday.

Five hours later, at 4.26pm, MJ Crowe’s Twitter account said: “I would like to offer a sincere genuine apology to all members of the Travelling community for my comments earlier this week. There is cut and thrust in politics but there is no room for the broad ranging sweeping generalisations I made about Travellers. For that, I am sorry.”

In two follow-up tweets, he said he was making no excuses. “I’m simply apologising; I was wrong,” he added.

He then returned to the airwaves last Friday morning, and issued another apology.

Only Michael John Crowe knows whether he meant the apology. It’s up to Travellers to decide to accept it, or not.

Everyone else wonders what happened between 8.58am on Monday and 4.26pm on Thursday that made MJ Crowe change his stance; and what in particular occurred between 11am and 4pm Thursday, that resulted in a volte face.

An intervention from FF HQ, perhaps? In fairness, many in Fianna Fáil like Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív have worked tirelessly – and quietly – to improve the lot of Travellers.

City Central Councillor Imelda Byrne works with Traveller students in her day job at University of Galway. City West City Councillor John Connolly is a big supporter of the boxing club in Westside that includes many Traveller children.

But cynics suggest that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who is a decent man, wanted this controversy to ‘go away’ and not overshadow the party’s 80th Árd Fheis in the RDS Dublin last weekend.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the October 7 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council’s contempt for the public it serves

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A City Council picture showing an aerial view of work on the new pedestrian bridge. The local authority has not covered itself in glory when it comes to informing the public about road closures to facilitate the project.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway City Council appears to just do what it wants when it wants.

Last Friday, it officially closed a road at Newtownsmyth. It will be closed until October 28.

The closure, which was to commence last Friday, September 23, was to facilitate construction works on the new bridge at Salmon Weir for pedestrians and cycling.

It is essential work and the closure is necessary for health and safety purposes.

The City Council, as is only right and proper, advertised the closure in advance, online and in a free-sheet newspaper. So far, so good.

Except, as anyone who knows Newtownsmyth is aware, that road has been closed for weeks and even months prior to the September 23 official closure start date.

Trying to find the City Council’s closure order, and public notice, for closing the road at Newtownsmyth prior to September 23 has proved as difficult as sourcing the Third secret of Fatima.

Requests to City Hall’s communications department to confirm whether the Council had a legitimate closure order prior to September 23 have not shone any light on the subject.

And so, in the absence of an adequate response, is it reasonable to conclude that the Council did not have permission to close Newtownsmyth prior to September 23?

And if that’s the case, can the Council now just go around closing roads willy-nilly, without notice and without allowing input from residents and users of the road?

Maybe it was a mistake. If it was, why not say so? The Galway public is forgiving. Maybe they had gone through proper procedure, but why not just show us the notice if that’s the case?

For too long now, though, City Councillors have been treated with contempt by the unelected executive at City Hall and the suspicion is this closure without notice was just another manifestation of that contempt spreading to the public too.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Snubs show City Council protocol has gone to pot!

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City Hall failed to inform Cllr Donal Lyons that a Minister and Junior Minister were coming to his Knocknacarra kingdom to turn the sod on a housing development. None of the other councillors were informed about the event or invited to it either.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

City Hall has gone to pot with protocol. It continues to ignore elected representatives of Galway City Council when it comes to issuing invites to events, and is treating lay members of Strategic Policy Committees with disdain, too.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) raised the touchy subject of councillors not receiving invites to ministerial envelope-openings around the city.

The King of Knocknacarra recalled at the latest Council meeting, how City Hall failed to invite local representatives to the turning of the sod on the Salmon Weir pedestrian bridge earlier this year.

That omission, reported in Bradley Bytes, put Councillor Frank Fahy’s nose out of joint and led to a grovelling apology from Chief Executive Brendan McGrath. The head honcho said it would not happen again. It did, though.

At the September meeting last week, Cllr Lyons suggested little had been learned from the experience.

A Minister and Junior Minister had been in Galway recently, to turn the sod on a housing development in his Knocknacarra kingdom and nobody thought to tell him, or the Mayor of Galway, or any other councillor for that matter. “It’s not a gripe,” he said, “but it has happened before.”

Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) also hit out at the lack of invites and breach of protocol. She said that since Covid, local representatives were not getting “any notifications”.

For it to happen once or twice is a mistake. This is beginning to look like a pattern, though. And it has led many to wonder whether there is an unofficial policy in Galway City Council of treating the elected representatives of the people with disdain, by ignoring long-established protocol regarding invites to events and openings.

Standards are slipping, that’s for sure. But it’s not just elected members feeling left out.

Long-time City Council agitator, Derrick Hambleton of An Taisce revealed at last week’s Cost of Living Coalition Galway meeting in the Western Hotel how a lack of courtesy from City Hall was not confined to elected representatives.

Hambleton, a planning expert who annoys officialdom no end, is a member of the Council’s Planning Strategic Policy Committee.

It was due to meet in the past fortnight but didn’t and nobody informed him and a colleague as to why it didn’t.

“We were supposed to have a meeting last week. We weren’t told it was cancelled; we weren’t even informed. It just didn’t happen. We ask questions, we start rows. It’s a waste of time – I’ve been wasting my time for the last twenty years,” Derrick told the Prospect Hill meeting.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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