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Bradley Bytes

Nero to zero: Mayor shops as Galway floods!

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

If you think things were tough for the ordinary citizens of Galway City, battered by wind and storms and rain and floods the weekend before last, spare a thought for your poor mayor, City Councillor Pádraig Conneely, who had weather problems of his own to contend with while abroad on official business.

Taking a break from his taxpayer-funded trip to the US, where he (and mayor of the county Liam Carroll) represented you as an official guest at the inauguration ceremony of the new Boston mayor, Connemara’s own Marty Walsh, the Bould Conneely did a spot of shopping.

And it was no ordinary shopping, as our photograph shows, with the outspoken Fine Gael City Councillor clutching a bag from the popular designer outlet, Abercrombie and Fitch.

As you waded through the floods, though, it wasn’t all fun and frolics for the city’s first citizen – skipping in and out of designer stores isn’t easy, you know, when Boston’s streets and sidewalks are laden down with snow and ice.

Resilient as ever, the poor divil ploughed on regardless.

What was that you say about Emperor Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned?

MJ Crowe renames Ballyloughane beach

Still on the subject of storms and windy weather, Michael John Crowe, the Fianna Fáil City Councillor, sent us a press release urging the City Council not to ignore the Ballyloughane Beach area during the clean-up.

So concerned was he about the beach – and so anxious was he to convey his concern ahead of rival area Councillor, Terry O’Flaherty, otherwise known as Polltopper – Michael John couldn’t spell the very area he was meant to be looking out for.

The word Ballyloughnane (with an extra ‘n’) appeared six times in his statement.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Foul stench of urine on Galway City’s streets

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Bradley Bytes – a sport of political column with Dara Bradley

The stench of urine around Galway City is quite something.

It’s not everywhere, but every now and then while walking the city’s streets, you’ll turn a corner and be hit with this pungent odour. It makes your nose crinkle and eyes nearly water.

The hot weather doesn’t help with the smell. Nor do Covid-19 restrictions.

Galway City Council has provided some portaloos at various points in the city centre.

Ugly and all as they are – and boy they are ugly, ruining the views at beauty spots such as Spanish Arch – the temporary toilets are a necessary evil.

But the bigger problem right now is not the aesthetics of them, or their impact on the streetscape, it’s that there aren’t enough of them. And that means that a great number of people are getting caught short while out socialising in town.

When they can’t find toilets, they improvise. This – judging by the smell on certain streets – means many people are just peeing in public, mostly up against buildings, street corners, parks, beaches and along the waterways.

It is not gender-specific either – both sexes have been seen ‘toileting al fresco’.

It’s not ideal. And obviously we’d prefer if people didn’t do it. But given that it is happening, and it stinks and creates ugly stains on footpaths, could the City Council hire someone to power-hose the streets?

It’s really not a good look.
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

RTÉ expenses’ exposé justifies TV licence fee

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Irish people have a love hate relationship with the national broadcaster. In keeping with our begrudging nature, we love to hate it. But, paradoxically, we have an ingrained affinity with it too. And for all its faults, it is ours. News and current affairs distinguish it from other channels.

RTÉ’s Irish language services – Radió na Gaeltachta and Nuacht TG4 – despite operating on shoe-string budgets compared with their English language counterparts in the same stable, are excellent and justify the licence fee.

So too does Prime Time Investigates. The only complaint you’d have with it, is there aren’t enough investigations by Prime Time.

That’s because journalism, particularly investigative journalism, takes time and money. And notwithstanding that they do pay their ‘stars’ too much, RTÉ is nearly always short of money.

Last week, RTÉ did the State some service with its exposé of the flawed expenses system for people elected to local authorities.

It was worthy of licence fee funding. One man who got full value from his TV licence fee, from the programme, was Galway City Councillor Declan McDonnell.

Without RTÉ Prime Time Investigates, we would not have known that he had repaid and refunded over-claimed expenses.

The ex-PD, who topped the poll as an Independent in City East at the most recent local election, didn’t feature on the TV programme but was one of many elected members named in an accompanying lengthy online article.

In it, Declan confirmed that he had over-claimed and refunded expenses relating to attendance in 2015 at a Committee of the Regions seminar in the Netherlands on Thursday, March 12, and a conference in Monaghan on the same day.

“I realised that when I completed the GCC form, I over-claimed one day and this has since been refunded to Galway City Council,” he said.

On another occasion, he told RTÉ he had made a mistake on a claim form submitted, and subsequently refunded a daily allowance of €33.61 to the City Council. This related to meetings in Leitrim and Roscommon on the same day in 2019.

A claim form indicated he had attended a planning meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, and returned at 10pm on Friday April 5. Another claim form – related to a Committee of the Regions-related meeting, at the Northern and Western Regional Assembly in Ballaghaderreen – said he left home 11.30am on Friday, April 5, for a 2pm meeting, returning home at 5.45pm.

He explained to RTÉ: “Following discussions with my family, they have recalled that I left the conference in Carrick-on-Shannon early morning on April 5, 2019, to return home and deal with an urgent family matter. I then left Galway to attend the CoR meeting in Ballaghaderreen.”

The money amounts are quite small. And, Declan McDonnell was one of many highlighted in the investigation who had made mistakes claiming expenses.

A conscientious and experienced city councillor like Declan McDonnell would no doubt thank RTÉ for bringing it to his – and our – attention.

On a broader level, RTÉ deserves credit for investing time and money into shining a spotlight on an expenses’ system that nearly all councillors agree needs an overhaul.

(Photo: Councillor Declan McDonnell)
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

History repeating in centenary commemorations controversy

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

History has a habit of repeating itself. And when it comes to commemorating centenaries, Official Ireland – and Official Galway – doesn’t learn from past mistakes.

In 2016, there was uproar locally over CIÉ’s refusal to return a plaque, which celebrates local 1916 Easter Rising hero, Éamonn Ceannt, to the façade of the wall outside the city centre train station that’s named after him.

And who could forget the furore over Galway County Council’s plans to commemorate Patrick Whelan? He was Galway’s only 1916 Rising fatality; he was also a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and so you could see how only celebrating a policeman who was shot and killed by Irish Volunteers, might be controversial.

In 2020, the then Mayor of Galway, Mike Cubbard, took a stand to boycott the planned national commemoration for RIC men and Dublin Metropolitan Police who died during the War of Independence.

Have we learned from these incidents? Have we heck!

On Saturday, the Crane Bar off Sea Road, played host to The Irish War of Independence Galway Centenary Conference, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of when the truce was signed. Organised by military historian, Damien Quinn, it heard from 12 speakers, all experts in different aspects of that period in our history.

It was the sort of event Galway City Council could and should have proudly supported but didn’t.

Some individual councillors supported it. Mayor of Galway, Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) launched it. Fianna Fáil councillor John Connolly was one of the speakers and gave an account of ‘The killing of Father Griffin’. Labour Councillor Niall McNelis also spoke and introduced the conference . . . he even donated €200 to cover some costs.

But the City Council Executive ignored it; the local authority gave no money and no other form of support.

In total, it cost about €700; much of this involved making a ‘digital book’ from recordings of the contributions. The Council ignored repeated requests for support, including a first approach in February.

We’re told that the City Council, in conjunction with the Galway City Creative Ireland Team, including the Council’s Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, has developed the Decade of Centenaries programme. But unlike many other local authorities, they didn’t use an Open Call process to invite ideas from the public and community groups.

Our shared history belongs to the people, and yet City Hall, in its wisdom, excluded people from decisions on how and what was going to be commemorated. Will they continue to ignore the public for the upcoming Civil War centenary?

(Photo: Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly, with Mick Crehan of the Crane Bar, military historian Damien Quinn, and Councillor Niall McNelis ahead of last weekend’s War of Independence conference. Galway City Council did not support it).
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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