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Bradley Bytes

Múinteoir Connolly takes the p**s with election leaflets

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Short-sighted? The City Council issued a directive that the Macnas parade at the launch of the Galway Whiskey Trail should not go ahead. Photo: Andrew Downes.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

It’s the end of August, and it’s back-to-school time for primary and secondary school children. Election time is looming, too, and judging by the standard of election literature being produced, some of the candidates would be advised to go back to school as well.

The biggest offender we’ve encountered so far has to be John Connolly, the Fianna Fáil general election candidate in Galway West.

A former city councillor, Connolly is joining Galway county councillor Mary Hoade and sitting TD, Éamon Ó Cuív on the party’s ticket.

A GAA man through and through, the Bearna native who is living in Rahoon has an obvious affinity with the Irish language and would have the ‘cúpla focal’.

John has put leaflets through letterboxes in Knocknacarra, announcing his candidacy, introducing himself to voters and listing some of his priorities if he gets elected.

Fair play to him, like a true Gaeilgeoir, the cards are bilingual, in Irish and English.

A rival candidate is not so happy, however. So unhappy is the rival candidate, in fact, that their ‘camp’ has been in touch to point out a few mistakes in the Irish.

Some mistakes are minor . . .  and only the purest of pure Irish speakers would have a gripe about misplaced fadas, or absent fadas, or small grammatical mistakes. We’ll give him those.

But there is one howler.

The paragraph reads: “Tá mé ag múnadh i Scoil Aibhthinn Naofa, Ros Cathail”.

It – presumably – should read: “Tá mé ag múineadh i Scoil Aibhthinn Naofa, Ros Cathail”.

No big deal says you.

Except the first one translates as “I am urinating in St Annin’s National School in Rosscahill”.

We’re pretty sure he means he’s teaching there, rather than p**sing.  And as a teacher with a decent fluency in Irish, you’d think he’d know better.

Or is there an alternative curriculum in North Connemara that we don’t know about?

 

City Hall biting the hands that feed it

Have they lost the plot in City Hall?

Galway built its reputation for the arts, partly on the highly-creative Macnas parades.

It was strange to hear, then, that a directive was issued from on high at College Road that the recent Macnas parade as part of the new Galway Whiskey Trail wasn’t to go ahead.

The organisers of the trail had permission for a spectacle at Spanish Arch, involving fireworks, pyrotechnics and drummers. It was excellent apparently.

They hadn’t permission to begin the spectacle – or trail – from up town and wander down through the city streets of the Latin Quarter with drummers and men on stilts.

Officials were concerned about any possible advertisement/sponsorship of alcohol element to the event – it was a whiskey trail, after all.

But in that great old tradition of believing it better to ask for forgiveness than permission, the organisers evidently ignored the party-poopers and paraded regardless.

They argued that the parade wasn’t a parade, just a few lads in costumes on stilts and drummers walking down the street; and so the parade-that-wasn’t-a-parade defied officialdom and paraded in the non-parade anyway.

Anyone who saw it said it was great, particularly visitors who thought what a lovely artistic and creative bunch we all are in Galway.

But why the party-pooper directive from Galway City Council?

This being an organisation that will be using Macnas, and their famous parades, in its bid to win the Capital of Culture 2020; a bid that, incidentally, has the backing of the Latin Quarter, and Whiskey Trail businesses, who, incidentally, also fund the Council through rates.

‘Tis a bit short-sighted of officials.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Wetherspoons’ entry could transform city pub sector

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An artist's impression of the proposed Wetherspoons on Eglinton Street. The chain is owned by Brexit support Tim Martin.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

“I hope it’s a massive failure,” said a London-based confidante who loves proper ale and Galway in equal measure.

“The beer is usually great, though, unfortunately,” he added, when asked about the impending arrival of JD Wetherspoons to Galway City.

The British pub chain has transformed the industry across the water. Now that it’s planning to open at the former GPO/Carbon nightclub premises on Eglinton Street, the mood locally is mixed.

Critics say that its large outlets, serving cheap food and alcohol, in central locations, have undermined traditional family and licensee-run pubs in England.

They argue staff are paid poorly, on long shifts. This is obviously bad for the workers, but it’s not great for customers either – who wants to be served by someone who doesn’t want to be there?

Galway is lucky that it has bars where the publican licensee is hands-on (think Hughes’ in Woodquay, Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard Street or The Crane back the West, etc) or employs hospitality-specialists and career-oriented professionals who are in it for the long haul (think the Dáil Bar or Freeney’s, among many more).

Well-paid and well-looked-after staff, or owner/licensee occupiers are generally preferable to pubs run by part-timers or transient workers. There’s a symbiotic relationship between drinker and publican/staff in those ‘proper’ local bars that are peppered across the city.

But will that change if Wetherspoons gets a foothold after a €2.5m investment in the Three Red Sails bar and restaurant over two floors?

Our London beer-fly said: “He’ll buy some beer that’s close to expiring – perfectly fine for drinking – and sells it at a bulk discount. Breweries say he’s great to deal with.”

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Ex-TD, ‘Our Nuala’ and some surprising DNA test results!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

In March 2011, Nuala Nolan was co-opted onto Galway City Council to represent the City East ward.

She replaced her namesake, Derek Nolan as a city councillor; he progressed on to Dáil Éireann after topping the poll in the General Election some weeks previous.

Our Nuala was anointed after a stiff selection convention contest where she saw off a number of challengers for the position.

When asked about his replacement, Derek Nolan’s stock answer about Nuala Nolan was always: “No relation.”

But it turns out that is not strictly true!

Our Nuala, who has since defected to Aontú, tells us that an immediate family member of Derek’s (who was reunited with his Labour buddy, Councillor Níall McNelis, at party stalwart John McDonagh’s wedding recently) has taken a DNA test. And it has produced some interesting results.

It turns out that Derek and Nuala “come up as a match; fourth cousins”, she said.

This, according to Our Nuala, was “hardly surprising”, despite Derek’s previous protestations, “given that both our parents come from Ballyloughane” in Renmore.

She said that ‘No Relation Derek’ may be “surprised” by the results but added: “DNA does not lie, for sure.”

In fairness, there is a resemblance between the two. Christmas round the Nolans’ should be fun!

(Photo: Long-lost cousins, Nuala Nolan and Derek Nolan. Nuala was co-opted onto Galway City Council in 2011 to replace Derek when he was elected a TD. Derek, who now lives in Australia always stated that they weren’t related but a DNA test shows they are).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Labour is working hard to stand still in Galway

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway City used to be fertile ground for the Labour Party. There was a time, not so long ago, when Labour was the largest party on Galway City Council.

In 2009, Billy Cameron, Colette Connolly, Derek Nolan, Tom Costello and Níall McNelis held five seats out of 15. Now, Labour has one out of 18. McNelis, a former Fine Gael candidate, is the sole flag-bearer for the Red Rose party on the local authority.

Much of the popular jeweller’s vote is personal, rather than an endorsement of the party. The Labour brand could be more a hindrance than a help for him.

Labour haemorrhaged support in the 2014 Local Election, losing three City Council seats. Only Comrade Cameron and McNelis survived. That trend continued when Labour’s core voters in the working suburbs of Galway City turned their backs on the party in 2016.

Die-hards were betrayed by the top-brass who had promised so much in the 2011 General Election but failed to deliver.

First-time TD, Derek Nolan who rode the Gilmore Gale and topped the poll in 2011, was unceremoniously dumped five years later. Labour hasn’t recovered.

McNelis polled strongly in City West to be re-elected in 2019. But John McDonagh failed to hold the retiring Comrade Cameron’s seat (albeit that one vote was the difference between him and fellow Shantalla candidate, Martina O’Connor) in City Central.

And it was a disaster altogether in City East, where Liam Boyle came 13th out of 16 candidates, behind relatively unknown rivals in Solidarity, Renua and the Greens. The defection of long-serving member, Pat Hardiman, who ran last-minute as an Independent, highlighted how the party organisation was in disarray. Galway County Council is a wasteland for Labour, too.

The problem for Labour now is the electorate has moved on. Sinn Féin (which had a disastrous Local Election, losing all of its three seats on Galway City Council in 2019), occupies the space on the Left where Labour used to be.

Independents like Mike Cubbard, and former Labour councillor, Colette Connolly, offer Labour supporters an alternative without the toxicity or baggage of the brand.

And the Social Democrats and Green Party (also, to an extent, the liberal wings of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) mean that social issues like abortion and LGBT+ rights are no longer a Labour niche.

Dumping the gruff Alan Kelly as leader has made zero tangible, positive difference in Galway; it’s hard to imagine his replacement, Ivana Bacik, swaying many undecided voters in former heartlands of Shantalla and Corrib Park.

A party source denied it was struggling to find candidates for the fast-approaching Locals in 2024. The source said Labour has four “very strong” candidates lined up to run, two each in City Central and City East. The target is three seats; that’s a gain of two, plus McNelis to hold.

The Labour source added: “We have candidates who will be unveiled in the autumn. They’re candidates of diversity and gender balance. I’m not giving any names but they are all new candidates; very, very strong candidates.”

They’d want to be!

(Photo: In the 2019 Local Elections, Niall McNelis was the only Labour Party candidate to be elected to Galway City Council, when he held his seat. There was a time in the recent past when Labour had five seats on the Council).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the August 5 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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