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CITY TRIBUNE

Political donors disappear – what price democracy?

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Not one Galway City Councillor received a single political donation exceeding €600 to fight last May’s Local Election

Bradley Bytes – A Sort of Political Column with Dara Bradley 

Where have all the political donors gone? When filling out Statements of Expenditure for elections, candidates must declare whether they have received political donations of more than €600. But not one councillor or unsuccessful candidate in May’s local election to Galway City Council, declared that they received €600 or more from a political donor.

Maybe the term ‘political donation’ has been sullied by the brown envelope culture of the past but the tradition of funding candidates’ campaigns – so long as there’s no political favours in return, such as re-zonings – ought not necessarily be a negative thing.

People who donate to charity are lauded, and yet a similar act of civic responsibility by people supporting a candidate because they agree with their political view of the world, is now frowned upon.

It means that candidates must find alternatives. Fine Gael candidates got money back from party HQ – Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare and Frank Fahy were reimbursed €840, €840 and €970 respectively. Unsuccessful candidates John Walsh, Pearce Flannery and Donal Lynch also got some money back from FG.

Fianna Fáil funded one ad worth €500 each to Ollie and Mike Crowe and John Connolly. The Green Party paid €2,206 of Pauline O’Reilly’s campaign and more than €900 for Martina O’Connor’s campaign.

Not everyone was so lucky. Spare a thought for Pat Hardiman, a late entrant into the race in City East. Pat, who stuck by his principles, left Labour to run as an Independent but didn’t feature in the ‘business end’ when votes were counted. A taxi man, Pat’s returns note that he took out a €1,000 credit union loan to fund his campaign, in addition to €1,355 of his own resources.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he raised €2,000 from a table quiz – that meant he had to spend just €161 of his own resources on the campaign. Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) spent just €1,441 in total, and applied for €250 electoral support from ‘Independent Women in Politics’ to offset some of the cost.

Aontú’s Nuala Nolan, unsuccessful in City East, spent €1,700 – but not a cent of it was her own money, and all was raised through GoFundMe, fundraisers or from party HQ. Her party colleague, Cormac Ó Corcoráin, unsuccessful in City Central, also raised nearly €2,000 through GoFundMe and party HQ.

Labour’s John McDonagh, who lost out in City Central, was perhaps the most successful fundraiser – he said he got €2,760 in cash from a barbeque.

Darius Ivan (Ind) in City West, didn’t raise a cent but wasn’t out of pocket – he was the only candidate who filed returns who spent absolutely nothing on the campaign. He got just 30 first preference votes. Others who didn’t break the bank – and whose votes reflected that – were: Independents James O’Toole (spent €75, won 124 votes); Tommy Roddy (spent €116, won 137 votes), Marc Anderson (spent €184, won 91 votes) and Claire Keegan (spent €625 and won 30 votes – €20 per vote).

 

*For more Bradley Bytes see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Council officials branded ‘ignorant’ after reneging on circus agreement

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A circus branded City Hall in Galway ‘ignorant and arrogant’ after a spat over access to public space.

Circus Gerbola criticised Galway City Council for limiting the days its big top was permitted in Claude Toft carpark in Salthill and for reneging on an agreement.

The touring troupe said that last January, it provisionally booked the carpark from August 4-21. In early July, the Council emailed the circus and said it would be limited to seven days only.

Event Producer Jane Murray said she then secured a verbal compromise to rent the carpark for 10 days, including two weekends. But then the Council contacted the circus again and insisted that the site could be used for seven days only.

“I wouldn’t call them clowns because I think it would be an insult to clowns and generations of clowning. They were just extremely ignorant and arrogant. They were so unempathetic,” fumed Ms Murray.

They then scrambled to find alternative accommodation, in Kinvara, for performances today, Saturday and Sunday.

The third planned week has been moved to Conamara. From next Monday, the big top moves to Fíbín theatre company grounds in An Tulach, Cois Fharraige, for a series of events.

A Council statement said the matter was discussed at length internally.

“The carpark in question is relied upon by locals and tourists alike for parking, particularly during the busy tourist season. The best compromise in this situation was to permit the circus to take over full use of the car park for seven days. We do envisage complaints/representations from locals at being prevented from using this car park for a full week,” it said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call on Galway City Council to tackle burning of rubbish

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Local residents have called on the authorities to tackle the problem of an ongoing illegal dump in the Castlegar area with the rubbish being burnt off on a regular basis.

A particularly intense fire was set off in the Bruckey area on Tuesday afternoon last with black smoke billowing from the blaze – forcing local people to close their windows and doors.

According to one local resident, even the Fire Brigade couldn’t access the blaze which eventually burnt itself out over the following days.

“This has been going on for the past four years and we have made several overtures to the City Council on the issue as well as contacting the Gardaí, but nothing is being done about this.”

He said that the land being used as dump and fire site was rented and added that those burning waste were ‘a complete law onto themselves who did whatever they liked’.

(Photo: the fire burning on Tuesday)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors ignore Transport Authority recommendation on estate access

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A submission by the National Transport Authority (NTA) – seeking to restrict new access points along the Western Distributor Road to ‘cyclists and pedestrians’ only – has been defeated at a City Council meeting.

Councillors voted 12-4 to reject the NTA submission presented in the draft Galway City Development Plan (2023-29) which sought to prevent new access points being provided for vehicular traffic.

The NTA in their submission said that their proposal was aimed at ‘protecting investment in public transport’ and in ‘facilitating sustainable travel’.

In his response to the submission, City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, said that the Council did not want any further restrictions to be put in place.

Councillors Niall Murphy (Green Party) and Colette Connolly (Ind) had proposed the acceptance of the NTA submission in order to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.

Senior Planner with the Council, Caroline Phelan, said that there was a substantial bank of land in this area (off the Western Distributor Road) and the objective was to be able to access zoned land.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said that if land in such areas was prevented from being developed by a lack of access, it would have major implications for industry, jobs, housing and schools. “We have to allow access,” he said.

(Photo: The ‘Kingston Cross’ lands on the Western Distributor Road which were earmarked for a commercial and residential development anchored by Tesco and Decathlon: An Bord Pleanála previously ruled access points would be a traffic hazard, particularly when it came to cycling infrastructure and a bus corridor on the road).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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