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O Brolchain is going full-time, but will Green Party Òtake the gritÓ for crisis?

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Date Published: {J}

Things are moving on for new Green Party Senator Niall O Brolchain – following his recent election in that voting pact between FF and The Greens, O Brolchain is to set up a full-time office in Galway City in a bid to win a Dail seat in Galway West.

Now, as I said before, winning a seat will be a tall order. O Brolchain was among those tipped for the Dail in the 2007 General Election in Galway West and he got over 3,000 first preferences. But he failed to be elected and then suffered an extraordinary reverse in the 2009 Local Elections when he failed to hold on to his Galway City Council seat.

In the Locals, where the Green Party suffered a wipeout nationally, O Brolchain was not spared – at 750 first preferences he had only half a quota and, when he lost the City Council seat, it looked like his political career might be at an end. However, he got his break before Christmas when he won that Senate by-election and at the weekend confirmed that he is opening a full-time office in Galway, with two staff.

His full-time commitment to politics and now opening an office in Galway is an indicator of his intention to battle hard in seeking a Dail seat in five-seater Galway West. He has a tough battle ahead of him.

Meanwhile, it’s hardly surprising that Green Minister John Gormley seemed to have a short fuse and not too much of a sense of humour in the past week when it was suggested to that someone might call him – ‘the Minister for Snow.’

Minister Gormley will be aware that there is some historical precedent in this country for the junior partner in government ‘carrying the can’ when it comes to major weather events, and the competence with which they are handled – even if the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was on holidays!

After all, though the main roads were being gritted; ‘salt’ was in short supply, or running out; people had begun to ask where was Transport Minister Noel Dempsey; whole areas were impassable, buses in Dublin were not running – as Minister Gormley found himself standing up-front for a government which was being severely questioned on the adequacy of response.

Meanwhile, in the background, there were taunts that Gormley had been suckered into taking the thankless job of Weather Crisis Co-ordinator, while the senior partners in FF were prepared to leave the limelight to him.

Gormley made clear on Saturday that he was prepared to defend the handling of the crisis and that the government could not be expected to deal with every secondary road and estate …… but, when you’re dealing with a once-in-fifty-years weather event, someone will eventually ‘carry the can.’

We have to turn to Garret FitzGerald, the then Taoiseach in 1982, for memories of the weather crisis of January 1982, which did major and lasting damage to the reputation of then Tanaiste, Michael O’Leary TD, the Labour Party Leader and Minister for Industry and Energy. Really, it was the cause of some of the most lasting damage to the O’Leary reputation. It was one of the episodes which most pursued him through the rest of his political career – though no Government could have been expected to have had snowploughs on-hand for the once-in-forty-years snowdrifts.

Taoiseach FitzGerald was out of the country on holidays in Tenerife and Tanaiste Michael O’Leary was in charge when there was a major snowfall in early January, 1982.

Garret FitzGerald in his book ‘All In A Life.’ says: “In early January 1982 Joan and I took a brief break in the Canary Islands which came to a sudden end when, on the evening of Friday, January 8, I heard from home that a heavy snowfall was bringing the country to a standstill. Next morning I rang Michael O’Leary at home. He confirmed that the situation was critical; nothing was moving. I suggested that he establish an Emergency Committee to co-ordinate measures to meet the crisis; meanwhile I would try to get home as quickly as possible.

For more, read page 12 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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