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Pearce is busy . . . congratulating himself



Where it all began: June 2004 and newly elected Councillor Michael J Crowe (right), celebrates victory with his brother Ollie after his election to the City Council for the first time, as an Independent. Both brothers are now FF members of the council but there are indications that the next General Eelection will see Ollie take over the mantle of seeking a seat in the Dáil.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

At the beginning of last month, ahead of the start of the political season, we were told in a press release from Fine Gael City Councillor, Pearce Flannery, that “some of our new city councillors have been busily preparing their plans for the coming years”.

Councillors, busy? Now that’s a statement that made us sit up and take notice.

And who do you think Pearce thinks is the busiest little bee of them all? Got it in one.

“None more so than newly elected councillor for Galway West Pearce Flannery,” his press release said.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Cynical souls that you are, you’re thinking that Pearce Flannery is hardly impartial when it comes to judging who is the busiest of the new councillors.

But Pearce suspected your cynicism and was one step ahead of you. He provided evidence.

Stating that none of the councillors were busier than himself was not mere conjecture and puff for a press release – Pearce had hard facts.

“He has submitted not one, not two but three motions,” in advance of the first City Council meeting of the new term, Pearce “revealed” in a statement.

What Pearce has actually revealed is that he wouldn’t be half as busy if he stopped blowing his own trumpet.

Niall lowers the tone(r)

Galway City Councillors have new computers. And it’s not even Christmas.

Labour’s Niall McNelis tells us that the screen of one of the computers has already had to be treated by the ‘doctor’ after one technophobe councillor used Tipp-ex on it.

Niall also tells us that the Shinners, or the Wolfe Toners as he’s now calling them, didn’t need the printers that came with the computers – “They probably have enough print toner cartridges from Dublin,” he snorted.

Whatever could he mean?

Surely he’s not throwing a sly dig at Sinn Féin about the €50,000 worth of ink and toner cartridges claimed by one of the party’s TDs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, over two years.

We hope you don’t value your kneecaps, Niall.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.


Galway 2020: McGrath’s greatest success – and his biggest failure



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Brendan McGrath’s greatest achievement in Galway was also his biggest failure.

When assessing the legacy of the Chief Executive of Galway City Council’s 10-year tenure, it is impossible to ignore Galway 2020.

Without McGrath, Galway would not have been European Capital of Culture. Of that there is no doubt. But the buck stops with him too, when assessing what contributed to the failures of the project.

Months after becoming City Manager in 2013, the Tipperary native convened a working group.

It contained key personnel on his management team and others with experience of Galway’s arts scene. He set an ambitious target: secure the prestigious status of European Capital of Culture in 2020.

This was the sort of vision Galway had long yearned for from civil servants at City Hall. He had confidence, too, to match the idea.

In a Tribune interview in February 2014, McGrath said he was “not contemplating failure” in his bid to win the designation, dubbed “Galway’s Olympics”.

This was big stuff; a bold, ambitious statement from the top of Galway City Council, an organisation that had suffered low morale due to various scandals, including the Eyre Square revamp debacle.

McGrath expended much sweat to win the accolade. He put in the hours, burning the midnight oil to prepare a bid book, or application, to host the year-long event.

Galway was up against Limerick, Dublin, and the ‘Three Sisters’ of the South-East, a joint bid by Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford.

During this competitive phase, when European judges assessed applications, a sort of omertà operated in Galway whereby criticism, no matter how constructive, was frowned upon.

At that stage, it mattered not. Galway won the designation. And the outpouring of joy and relief on the city’s streets when it was announced was genuine.

But the omertà, the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ approach, continued when it did matter. A policy of ignoring or attacking detractors meant that valid points about shortcomings of the organisation in the lead-in to 2020 were not addressed, or were acknowledged too late.

In short, they believed their own bullsh*t. They adopted a siege mentality. Not all of that was McGrath’s fault. But it was his baby; he had the ability to influence that attitude.

A benign assessment of his contribution to the Galway 2020 disaster was that he had too much vision.

A more critical evaluation suggests the bid book he signed off on was never achievable in the first place; it was packed with promises that could not be delivered and, inevitably, the final product was destined to disappoint. And disappoint it did.

The project wasn’t helped by Covid-19, or weather disruptions to the opening ceremony at The Swamp, as Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) pointed out at McGrath’s final Council meeting as CE.

That nobody else – not even the man himself – even mentioned Galway 2020 during farewell speeches, speaks volumes about McGrath’s biggest feat and failure.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the June 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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In short, that new University of Galway directive? No abbreviations! 



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Management at University of Galway has asked staff to “politely correct” anyone who uses “older or incorrect versions and abbreviations” of its name.

Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar of University of Galway, or Ollscoil na Gaillimhe (formerly known as Queen’s College Galway; University College Galway, or UCG; and National University of Ireland Galway, or NUIG) made the plea in an email issued to staff earlier in May.

“Almost inevitably in Ireland, a tendency in some quarters has arisen to seek to bury the name behind letters, an action which defeats the purpose of our carefully researched rebranding decision,” he said.

That research, he said, showed that its key strength was that it was a university, based in Galway, “a city that evokes immensely positive feelings nationally and globally.

“It is important therefore that all staff use the new name in full, in either language”, he said.

“We are not ‘UG’, or ‘UoG’, or ‘UofG’ or OnaG, or any other such contraction,” Mr Ó Dochartaigh stated.

“When others mis-spell or foreshorten names, whether personal or institutional, if it isn’t an honest mistake then it is disrespectful, and it is common practice to politely correct the mistake in a reply.

“Only the most obtuse individuals would ignore such information and persist with incorrect usage. I would ask all staff to own and use our new name, and to politely point out the new name to anyone, internal or external, who uses older or incorrect versions and abbreviations,” Mr Ó Dochartaigh said.

The directive, emailed to staff, comes months after the university spent some €500,000 on rebranding itself to University of Galway or Ollscoil na Gaillimhe, names which the university said had no abbreviations.

(Photo: Deputy President and Registrar of University of Galway, Pól Ó Dochartaigh).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 26 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway City councillors see red over Green senator’s tweet  



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly’s ears must have been burning last week.

City councillors didn’t mention her by name, but it was clear who they referred to. And they didn’t spare her.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) attacked her as a “one-term senator”; a slur he withdrew after Mayor Clodagh Higgins (FG) rebuked him.

There was “no need for that”, she snapped. But Classy Clodagh was not happy with Pauline either.

Declan fumed that a certain Green Party senator had gone on national radio and social media, misrepresenting what councillors had agreed at the previous meeting.

“It’s a disgrace,” he squealed. The unnamed senator (Pauline O’Reilly) hadn’t been at the previous meeting and had interpreted their vote arse-ways, was the gist of his rant.

Classy Clodagh agreed. “We all know what we agreed but the public needs to know; Twitter doesn’t know, Twitter needs to know,” she thundered.

There was more righteous indignation from Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF). The Chief Executive, Brendan McGrat,h needed to unleash the might of City Hall’s Press Office and issue a statement. Set the record straight.

He moaned about “misinformation” and “false information” spouted on the Wild West of social media, Twitter.

Pauline, as is her wont, clearly got under the skin of councillors when she criticised them last month.

On April 18, she tweeted: “The end of the Renmore Ballyloughane cycle lane happened last night. It beggar’s belief that another cycle lane in Galway has been voted down by all but two councillors. It is claimed that it would ‘block off access’. What this really means is that it would reduce car parking.”

This referred to a motion at the April meeting, tabled by Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, seconded by Cllr MJ Crowe.

The motion that was passed, read: “We propose that Galway City Council reject the proposals set out in the Ballyloughane Road/Renmore Avenue Active Travel Scheme in its present format.”

It passed by 14-2, with one abstention. Both Green councillors, Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy, opposed it.

Councillors at the latest meeting complained the vote was misrepresented. They were angered by Pauline’s tweet and the national media coverage it had garnered her on RTÉ Radio One.

Councillors argued that the phrase “in its current format” meant it was not “the end” of the scheme, as she’d claimed on social media. Instead, the Council executive could come back with more palatable proposals.

Brendan McGrath concurred. He “didn’t see the need” to issue a statement to articulate the decision they made. It was “wrong”, he said, if that decision had not been communicated or interpreted correctly. But it was “abundantly clear” to management what councillors had decided.

Meanwhile, Pauline’s ‘offending’ tweet remains up.

(Photo: Pauline O’Reilly at the Mayoral Ball with Green councillors, Niall Murphy and Martina O’Connor).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 19 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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