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‘No muzzling of whistleblowers’ says City Council

Enda Cunningham



What happens to a public servant who is asked to do something they believe is both morally and ethically wrong?

Galway City Council officials have refuted claims that staff are being ‘muzzled’ to stop whistleblowing in the local authority.

Acting City Chief Executive Joe O’Neill told councillors this week: “Nobody in here is muzzling employees.”

His statement came after Billy Cameron (Labour) queried why remarks he made at last month’s local authority meeting – in relation to Council whistleblower Julie Grace – had not been minuted.

He said staff are being muzzled in the Council and this is not the way to go. He felt that in the interest of transparency, openness and accountability, his comments should have been recorded.

Cllr Cameron had said that regarding the Bríd Cummins case (a former Council tenant who took her own life before being evicted), issues were raised and resulting from that, an employee of the Council ended up without a job [after ‘whistleblowing’].

“It would be on my conscience if the minutes did not reflect what I said; I would ask for more detailed minutes,” said Cllr Cameron.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said Cllr Cameron was referring to Julie Grace, the former Council employee who wrote the book ‘Abuse of Power: Because Councils Can’ – she subsequently won a High Court action against the Council.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said he was disappointed the minutes had not recorded what was said at the previous meeting – he produced an article from the Galway City Tribune and said it had been reported on on Galway Bay fm.

“I’ve read the book and found it very interesting. I would encourage other councillors to go out and read it. You’d be shocked. It gives a great insight into what goes on in the City Council and taxpayers’ money used to shaft someone out of their jobs.

“At the end of the day, a woman lost her life. That’s not acceptable and the minutes should be amended. I’m not happy with the minutes as they’re recorded; they seem to be selective,” said Cllr Fahy.

Mr O’Neill said it is not practical that the Council write out every single thing that was said.

“There’s no point Cllr Fahy quoting another account [the media]; that’s their version of what happened on the night,” he said.

“It’s correct,” several councillors responded.

“Nobody in here is muzzling employees. It’s well worth the time reading everything in the Protected Disclosures Act. Nobody in here is interested in muzzling what people have to say,” said Mr O’Neill.

Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind) said she was Mayor at the time of the Bríd Cummins affair, and she did not recall any protests from Fine Gael at the time, but there was a motion to remove her from office.

She added that a discussion on minutes of a meeting was not the appropriate to raise the matter as it was an insult to Ms Cummins’ family and the “terrible suffering they have unjustly endured”.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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