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Bradley Bytes

No Ferrero Rocher at Brit ambassador Galway party – no sign of FF/SF either

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There was disappointment that there were no Ferrero Rocher at the British Ambassador to Ireland's charm offensive with city councillors in Glenlo Abbey recently.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

The wrestle to be recognised as the party of real republicanism rumbles on. Fianna Fáil, the self-styled Republican Party, is concerned about the rise of the republicans in Sinn Féin (not to be confused with Republican Sinn Féin – they’re an entirely hardcore shower of Shinners altogether).

Everyone knows that to be a true modern-day republican, you have to hate the Brits.

And in order not to be outflanked, the Soldiers of Destiny must show they hate the Brits as much as the Shinners.

And so that may explain why there were no Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin representatives in attendance when Robin Barrett, the new British Ambassador to Ireland, visited Galway.

The city’s mayor, and each of the party whips on the Council, were invited to a soiree at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel to break bread with the Queen’s man in Eire. All at the expense of the Great British Empire, obviously.

Though Peter Keane (Fianna Fáil) and Mairéad Farrell (Sinn Féin) were no-shows, the other parties had no qualms about attending the five-course feast laid on by the visiting dignitary.

Present were: the city’s mayor, Noel Larkin; Pádraig Conneely, representing Fine Gael (The Blueshirts are quite fond of the Brits and he’s never one to turn his nose up at free fodder); Niall McNelis, whip of the West Brit Labour Party; and Mike Cubbard, who was representing the Independents.

Present from the Council executive were Directors of Services, Joe O’Neill and Eileen Ruane.

Reports that there were no Ferrero Rocher at the formal get-together did disappoint, although we’re assured the fillet of beef was exquisite, and it was all washed down by the finest of fine wines.

The courtesy call by the Ambassador is all part of his charm offensive since being appointed in August – apparently, he’s doing the rounds and buttering up city councillors all over the country.

The Ambassador is an “eccentric” character and the meal, we hear, was at times quite uncomfortable for the invited Paddy guests, who are more accustomed to Supermac’s than silver service.

Although in fairness, his love of Manchester United Football Club did endear him to some, particularly Cubbard who is a regular at Old Trafford.

Our spies say that none of our lads let themselves down; nobody mentioned ‘the war’; and, apart from the two no-shows and the lack of Ferrero Rocher, the evening passed off without diplomatic incident.

Robin Barrett will not be insulted too much by Farrell’s snub. The career diplomat has a keen interest in history and so he’ll be well aware that she is a niece of her namesake, Maireád Farrell, the IRA volunteer who was killed by SAS soldiers during a British operation in Gibraltar in 1988.

Now that would have made for an awkward dinner-table topic.

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

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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors conspicuously absent from cost of living ‘crisis’ meeting

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

About 60 people attended the Western Hotel on Monday night, for a public meeting about the cost of living and housing crises facing Galway.

Organised by left-leaning lobbyists, Cost of Living Coalition Galway, it lasted about 90-minutes.

Conspicuous by their absence were almost all of Galway’s elected representatives.

Sinn Féin TD in the Galway West constituency, Mairéad Farrell, was a guest speaker and was there for two-thirds of it, before skipping off to another engagement.

But no other Oireachtas representative (TD or Senator) showed up, although Leas-Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly (Ind) was listed in literature as supporting the campaign.

According to one of the organisers, Adrian Curran, a local rep for People Before Profit, all of Galway’s TDs were contacted about the event, which was used to rally support for a cost-of-living demonstration in Dublin on Saturday, September 24, three days before the Budget.

None of the 18 Galway City councillors showed up either.

Lorraine Lally, volunteer with Galway branch of Access for All, who chaired the meeting, said she didn’t want to name names.

But she said a number of councillors politely made their excuses – there was a City Council meeting they had to attend from early afternoon on Monday, and some had been working prior to the Council meeting. Another event on top of that would’ve been too taxing, they said.

The Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG) told Lally that she had a prior engagement – honouring the All-Ireland winning Galway Intermediate camogie team with a reception at City Hall.

Curran wasn’t so kind. He told the meeting he contacted all city councillors but only one replied. That was the Green Party’s Niall Murphy who, Curran claimed, had informed him he wouldn’t attend because he didn’t support the coalition’s aims.

In his absence, Murphy missed many insults from the floor, including that the Greens were Thatcherites. Councillor Niall McNelis’ ears must have been burning, too – attendees labelled Labour more right-wing now than the main parties they had coalesced with, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who predictably also got lambasted.

The Cost-of-Living Coalition Galway, which has the support of students’ unions and some trade unions, is planning more events, which councillors cannot ignore forever.

As Farrell and the Socialist Party’s Conor Burke revealed, the group wants communities to replicate the water charges rebellion, and ‘rise up’ to demand action on cutting the cost of living.

(Photo by Joe O’Shaughnessy: Mairéad Farrell (SF) was a guest speaker at a public meeting on the cost-of-living and housing crises, at the Western Hotel on Monday. She was the only Oireachtas member to attend. City councillors, also invited, were absent too. Adrian Curran of People before Profit is beside her).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the September 16 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Bike brigade get bitchy over cycling campaign!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Members of the Galway Cycling Campaign have turned on themselves. It was only a matter of time really, wasn’t it?

Set up to badger for improved cycling infrastructure in the city, the group is dominated by cyclists with, ahem, strong personalities.

No stranger to spats with local politicians, it was inevitable they would clash among themselves at some stage.

Who knew it would be so public, though?

An internal row among bike enthusiasts has spilled into the public domain after all 18 Galway City councillors were copied on an email thread, which underlined fissures in the group’s objectives and modus operandi.

It starts with a measured email by Galway Cycling Campaign secretary, Neil O’Leary, who attempted to rebut claims by Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF), that the group is focused solely on Salthill because the east side is “not sexy enough”.

In it, O’Leary pointed to submissions the campaign made about cycling infrastructure out east. So far, so good.

Campaign chair Kevin Jennings replied that O’Leary’s email was “very good”.

Shane Foran, a committee member, described it as a “very comprehensive overview”.

That’s where agreement between Jennings and Foran ended, though.

Foran said the “public silence” from the campaign on Ballyloughane and Renmore cycling projects, “has been very obvious”.

He said he found himself in the “embarrassing position of having to explain to people like Councillor Terry O’Flaherty that I could not count on any public statements from the campaign because of the same apparent lack of interest”.

Foran then went on the offensive, with accusations against Jennings we won’t repeat here. In his emailed reply, Jennings claimed Foran’s analysis was “as usual . . . way off”.

Among other things, which again we won’t repeat, Jennings’ email said he was “getting tired” of Foran’s “constant petty sniping at me”.

Foran then copied Councillors on his even lengthier reply to Jennings.

“Since your letter includes claims regarding the motives of members of the elected City Council, I feel it is best to include them in my response,” Foran began.

“I feel it is important for our elected councillors to understand that when you make comments about them, this cannot be assumed to have the support of other committee members. I also think it helpful for the elected council to get an idea of the manner and tone which members (of) the campaign can expect to be treated by you if they try to maintain a dialogue,” Foran told Jennings on the email CCed to councillors.

Addressing “allegations of petty sniping”, Foran said that highlighting concerns was not sniping but “an accepted duty of any board or committee member”.

Jennings then wrote to councillors, expressing “regret” that they received an email from Foran “which seems to be addressed to me”.

“This is not how we usually carry out our business . . . I don’t really invite a response to this email and would prefer it be excused and forgotten as an embarrassing outburst,” he said.

Councillors were chuffed that cyclists’ ire was directed at each other, rather than elected members. As one former mayor confided, “it couldn’t happen to a nicer group”. Ouch!

(Photo: Shane Foran of Galway Cycling Campaign who is involved in a spat with fellow member Kevin Jennings about what he’s described as the group’s ‘public silence’ on Renmore and Ballyloughane cycling projects).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the September 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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