Date Published: 01-Jun-2011
Just a few months into the term of office of the new Fine Gael-Labour government and it has been a particularly torrid start for Galway West’s new TDs – Brian Walsh and Sean Kyne (FG) and Derek Nolan (Lab).
The national opinion polls may say the government is more popular, but the spotlight has fallen on them because at issue is the future of Galway Airport, which seems doomed if the government does not come up with funding for ongoing running costs.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who might be kindly described as ‘the most directly spoken’ among the Cabinet, has said that there is not funding to support the airport. The airport authorities said initially they needed €1.7million this year.
Suddenly, the three new TDs hardly had their bums on those seats in Leinster House – one of them a gain from Fianna Fail as they knocked out FF’s Frank Fahey – and they were being asked difficult questions back home in the constituency over a key piece of infrastructure that many see as crucial to city’s future.
The situation in which they find themselves brings me back once more to the famous remark of Seamus Brennan in the Dail to TDs who found themselves in government – ”ye’re playing senior hurling now, lads.”
Galway Airport first had said that it needed a €1.7million subvention for this year, but, following a lot of work both by the airport and TDs, and a huge re-working of the airport figures and projections, this was reduced to €1.2million. I understand that a large part of the re-working was on the basis of a major increase in traffic.
However, this €1,2million was still twice the total national funding which Varadkar had for potentially three airports – Galway, Sligo and Waterford.
The word in government circles is that this is just one of many cuts in spending which will have to be carried through and they are not going to re-visit cuts decided on by the previous government.
But there is no point now in the present government pointing to a previous administration as regards cuts, especially as Eamon Ó Cuív TD (FF) pointed out in the past week that the Transport Department with its budget of well over €600million this year, must surely be able to find a million in its spending.
All this has upped the squeeze on the three TDs – Walsh, Kyne and Nolan – for whom the airport is at the heart of their vote area. The pressure mounting on them is coming from business and community.
Business leaders say the airport will close if funding is not forthcoming and it is crucial for the future of Galway, especially in the area of attracting new industry. Key industries are reputed to have said that the airport is crucial – but the Varadkar line up to now appears to be that he doesn’t have the money, Galway-Dublin is now well less than two hours by motorway, and that the airport is not being used anyway.
Of course, it was also a week in which we had the first major Fine Gael-Labour ‘spat’ of the present administration – with East Galway Labour TD Colm Keaveney hitting the national headlines when he said a very loud ‘no’ in the Dail to and intervention by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton TD on the setting of wages in sectors such as hotels and catering.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.