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Bradley Bytes

Praying for divine intervention – to pick up bar tab

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Bradley Bytes with Dara Bradley

Though the invite was very late arriving by fax, we thought it rude not to attend the new mayor’s party last week. We, like most attendees, went out of politeness and a sense of duty . . . nothing at all to do with the free bar.

In fairness to the newest first citizen, City Councillor Pádraig Conneely, ‘twas a good auld party out the back of O’Connell’s Bar, Eyre Square.

The sun was shining, the barbeque was going ninety, the pints were flowing, Don Stiffe was rattling out the tunes and the craic, as they say, was mighty.

Even Galway West Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne, who can often look uncomfortable at these types of social events, appeared to be enjoying himself.

What, we wondered, was the secret to such a successful mayoral bash? “I went to Mass that morning down at the Poor Clares’ and prayed for fine weather and that it would go well,” revealed Pádraig.

Now if only the Poor Clares could pray hard enough to make his bar tab disappear . . .

Insider story of Mayor’s Party

We could fill several columns with the goings-on at the mayoral bash but we won’t bore you, and will keep it to a dozen observations.

Sight of the Night: Outgoing mayor, Terry O’Flaherty showing off bruises on her leg, still visible through her dark-coloured tights. The scars were picked up when she fell climbing Croagh Patrick.

Functional Fashion of the Night: Terry, again. Now that she has no mayoral car to chauffeur her round, she wore flat shoes in case she had to walk home to Mervue.

Conspicuous Absentee of the Night: Independent City Councillor Donal Lyons. We wondered why Donal wasn’t there. “He hasn’t gone to one in ages,” snorted one of his colleagues, who declined to elaborate.

Most Unwelcome Invited Guest of the Night: Too many to mention – the host has many political enemies!

X-Factor Moment of the Night: No contest here. Labour Party City Councillor Nuala Nolan wins hands-down. The Bacardi and Coke, we reckon, gave Nuala the ‘Dutch courage’ to grab the microphone off Don Stiffe and regale us with her crowd-pleasing rendition of the Tennessee Waltz.

Party Animals of the Night: No contest here either. St Michael’s GAA Club members . . . still on a high after beating Killererin in the senior championship.

Sour Pusses of the Night: The rest of the Labour Party councillors in attendance . . . apparently not enough champagne or smoked salmon for these ‘socialists’.

Quote of the Night: “They’re either here for the free drink or my seat is in trouble!” – Fianna Fáil City Councillor Ollie Crowe as he watched scores of whom he thought were supporters of his, and committed ‘number ones’, file into his constituency rival’s, the Fine Gael mayor’s party.

Worried Look of the Night: Ollie again, as he muttered the above words.

Most Relieved Look of the Night: Pádraig, when the barmen cut-off the gratis booze.

Early Leavers of the Night: Independent City Councillor Declan McDonnell and new City Manager, Brendan McGrath, were both spotted slipping away early. Not together, we hasten to add.

Late Arrival of the Night: Director of Services Ciarán Hayes, a nemesis of the host (the pair have regularly clashed, publicly) arriving at the top of the queue for the BBQ to be told all the burgers were gone.  Apparently Seán Kyne got the last one . . . no wonder the normally deadpan Moycullen man managed to crack a smile.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council was in slow lane with incorrect speed signage

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

At long last, sense has prevailed at City Hall. It was a slow process, but finally – after over a decade – incorrect speed limit signs displayed on some city roads will be corrected.

That it took a campaign by concerned citizens, and in particular bike enthusiast Kevin Jennings, for Galway City Council to rectify its own mistakes, is disgraceful but hardly surprising.

That Jennings had to highlight the issue in this newspaper and other media and had to badger local and national politicians before management at City Hall agreed to take action on a serious matter of road safety, is also a disgrace but not surprising either.

Jennings regularly cycles with his children on one of the roads in Knocknacarra where an incorrect speed limit sign had been displayed for up to 12 years. He discovered that several roads within the city boundary which have designated speed limits of 50km/h, had speed signs on them suggesting they were in 80km/h zones.

Among the roads with incorrect 80km/h signs were: Upper Cappagh Road, Upper Ballymoneen Road, Rahoon Road, Letteragh Road, Rosshill Road, Dublin Road and Oranmore Coast Road.

The signs were dangerous and gave false assurances to motorists that they could legally drive at 80km/h in 50km/h zones.

As well as endangering all road users, who would have been responsible in the event of a collision on one of those roads, if the motorist was driving above 50 but below 80? Would it have been the driver or the local authority? The legal profession would have had a field day.

What we think happened is this. Rather than change the signs to reflect the actual speed limit, the City Council attempted to change the speed limit to reflect the signage that was in place. Councillors rejected the 80km/h in proposed new bylaws in a vote last November and then the executive blamed elected members for the incorrect signs. It would be funny were it not so serious.

Jennings was a dogged campaigner – a trait of Galway Cycling Campaign members – and kept the pressure up for the signs to be corrected.

A victory of sorts arrived this month when Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed “an audit of the existing signage has now been completed and a number of anomalies have been identified”.

The Council, he said, “commenced the process, in September, of modifying the speed limit signage at a number of locations in the city to bring the signage in line with the current Special Speed Limit Bylaws, 2009”.

That they did so kicking and screaming is the great mystery surrounding this sorry affair.

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

How would you rate your Galway City councillor? 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley. From the pages of this week’s Galway City Tribune.

As Galway City Council returns after the Summer recess, we run the rule over all 18 elected members ahead of a busy schedule of meetings between now and Christmas. In short, they all ‘could do better’!

GALWAY CITY EAST

Alan Cheevers (FF)

Tends not to think before he speaks. Notion to build a stadium in Doughiska for a World Cup bid was a non-runner that boosted his profile and damaged his credibility.

Own goals aside, he’s hardworking and has cultivated a vote from the new Irish – Africans in Doughiska in particular – that position him as a future poll-topper. 7/10

 

Michael J Crowe (FF)

At that Bob Geldof “I don’t give two flying f*cks what you think of me” stage of life, he has assumed the role of godfather of the Council. The gimp of a man that has nothing to lose, he can attract controversy. Droll and – recently – measured in debates, he’s fed up of management’s cavalier attitude to councillors. 7/10

 

 

Owen Hanley (Soc Dem)

A work in progress. Gullible, he swallows City Hall’s propaganda without critically analysing issues – a byproduct of the rush to be ‘first’ to tweet Council “news”.

An isolated figure cut adrift from the ruling pact, he has grown in confidence during contributions to debates. Could nudge Niall Ó Tuathail off the Dáil ticket in Galway West. 7/10

 

Noel Larkin (Ind)

Quiet since opting out of the position of mayor in 2020, after a campaign to block him getting the chain caused controversy.

Unashamedly pro-business, he’s unafraid to speak out about issues like anti-social behaviour. Strikes a chord with a sizeable portion of the electorate by punching down. The mayoral debacle proved outspokenness can boomerang. 7/10

 

Declan McDonnell (Ind)

Will he run again? The most popular candidate out east in 2019, he may have reassessed his priorities during Covid-19 and after losing his grip on the ruling pact.

A big interest in planning, he’ll enjoy the nitty gritty of compiling a new Development Plan. Refunding a relatively small amount of expenses to the Council, after a Prime Time investigation found he over-claimed, doesn’t appear to have damaged him. 7/10

 

Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) 

Another who might call it a day after this term, she’s taking heavy hits from rivals – especially Alan Cheevers – who are eyeing up the Polltopper’s wheelbarrow of first preferences. Like most of the experienced crew, she was not suited to, and struggled with, online Council meetings on Zoom but still delivered ‘on the ground’. 7/10

 

 

GALWAY CITY CENTRAL 

Imelda Byrne (FF)

A leading light in equality education, she needs to bring the enthusiasm and competency of the day job as Access Officer of NUIG to her Council role.

Showed naivety with a motion calling for park-ranger community wardens; a well-intentioned but poorly worded idea. With more confidence and experience, she has potential. 7/10

 

Colette Connolly (Ind) 

With Catherine Connolly and Pádraig Conneely gone, she’s taken on role of chief contrarian. A surprisingly competent chair of Council meetings, so far, just months into her term as mayor.

Her strengths – tenacious, questioning, rebellious, and highly sceptical of Council management – are also her main weakness: she annoys colleagues with outbursts that can alienate her. 7/10

 

Mike Cubbard (Ind)

Like many younger councillors, he’s obsessed with his social media image. Went overboard on Facebook posts, in particular, during his two (successful) terms as mayor but has calmed down since without compromising constituency work.

From a Council estate, he ably represents the voice of the marginalised in areas of the ward abandoned by others. Needs a thicker skin. 7/10

 

Frank Fahy (FG)

Has more regard for working class than your average Fine Gaeler and is ‘Left’ on most issues compared with other Blueshirts, bar law and order when he returns to type – right-of-centre, hard-line.

Occasionally highlights unusual stories – dealers using jet-skis on the Corrib to deliver drugs to Galway was one – that attract sensational headlines and ‘Are you for real?’ reactions. 7/10

 

Eddie Hoare (FG)

Anyone expecting outspokenness like Pádraig Conneely will be disappointed. Brings optimism and positivity that was anathema to his predecessor and, as an accountant, has a decent grasp of figures which will come in handy at Budget time. Too obsessed with social media, he could do with less cheerleading, and more questioning, of officials. 7/10

 

 

Martina O’Connor (Greens)

More to her than meets the eye. Could struggle to keep calm in the Chamber when chairing meetings as Deputy Mayor. But she is an engaged councillor who pushes the green agenda and fights for women in politics, regardless of party. Inexperienced and naive when it comes to taking officials at face value.  7/10

 

 

GALWAY CITY WEST 

John Connolly (FF)

A fine example of how resilience rewards. Unseated in 2009, he didn’t make a Dáil breakthrough in 2016, but persevered and has shown hunger for the political fray since returning in 2019. One of the few elected Gaeligeoirí, he’s relishing being back on the Council questioning the executive and barking at rivals. Too sensitive.  7/10

 

 

Clodagh Higgins (FG)

A bundle of energy and enthusiasm, she appears to enjoy the job. There’s a needle between her and party colleague Eddie Hoare, suggesting both have ambitions beyond local politics.

Sloppy wording of a tweet about disability drew the misogynist wrath of keyboard warriors; and her handling of plans for a cycle-lane on Salthill Prom proved the folly of trying to be all things to all people. 7/10  

 

Peter Keane (FF)

Not as prominent at meetings as he was prior to the pandemic, is overshadowed by more ambitious colleagues, and has given up on plans to progress to national politics.

Another one the Zoom meetings didn’t suit, the solicitor remains an asset to the largest party on the Council but is it making use of his obvious talents?  7/10  

 

Donal Lyons (Ind) 

Long live the King! Retired from An Post earlier this year, he’s adamant he’s not slowing down politically. Was frustrated by Zoom meetings, and hasn’t made the impact of previous terms. Will reign supreme in Knocknacarra for as long as he likes.  7/10

 

 

Niall McNelis (Lab)

Dubbed ‘Harry Three Pacts’ by colleagues who have disdain – and a sneaky regard – for his manoeuvring to secure a place in the ruling rainbow, he’s well able to go.

Enthusiastic and energetic, he does Trojan voluntary work wearing different hats. Needs to take off the maroon-tinted glasses, though, and realise his loyalty is to the public, not unelected officials. 7/10

 

Niall Murphy (Greens) 

He’s no Pauline O’Reilly – his predecessor – but has the potential to be a decent councillor. The one thing standing in his way of becoming a decent councillor is that he thinks he is one already. A little less ‘I know best’, and a little more listening and learning is needed. 7/10 

 

 

Read Bradley Bytes in the Galway City Tribune every week. You can subscribe online

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CITY TRIBUNE

If O’Brien is the answer then FF should ask another question

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Micheál Martin watch out! Dev Óg confirmed to TG4 last week that he wouldn't be leaving Fianna Fáil, despite his issues with the party and hinted he might stand for election again.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

When you consider that Darragh O’Brien is one of the main contenders to replace Micheál Martin as leader of Fianna Fáil, you sort of grasp just how deep in do-do the party finds itself.

The Soldiers of Destiny aren’t exactly laden down with talent but if O’Brien is the answer then really they need to ask a different question.

As the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party meets in Cavan ahead of the new Dáil term, it’s easy to see why disgruntled TDs and Senators haven’t yet deposed Martin – there’s no alternative.

O’Brien is Housing Minister and seems like a sound, harmless enough old skin. But he’s no leader-in-waiting, if last week is a barometer.

Fianna Fáil was once the party that built houses. It asked for the housing portfolio in Coalition negotiations with Fine Gael and the Greens. Housing is the hill it is willing to die on. Solve the housing crisis and the electorate will reward Fianna Fáil, is their hope.

Wouldn’t you think, then, that after announcing what we’re told is the most comprehensive housing policy in the State’s history, O’Brien would have the courage of his convictions to actually debate and defend it against Opposition attack on national television?

But no. Instead of going head-to-head with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin, O’Brien opted for one-to-one interviews firstly with Miriam O’Callaghan – who incidentally is a brother of the other leadership contender, Jim O’Callaghan – on Prime Time; and then with Claire Brock, on Tonight. On both programmes, Ó Broin was interviewed after O’Brien left the studio.

RTÉ and Virgin Media should have refused to give O’Brien airtime if he was unwilling to debate, but media cowardice aside, can you imagine previous leaders like Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern or Brian Cowen shying away from a scrap with their opposite?

It’s another reason why O’Brien will not be leader, regardless of the desire for a Dublin TD to take over.

Meanwhile, one Dubliner who knows more than most that Fianna Fail is in trouble is Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív.

On Comhrá on TG4 last week, Dev Óg showed his human side in a soft-focus, and interesting, one-on-one interview.

He confirmed he would not leave FF, despite his issues with the direction the party took and its leadership. And although he conceded it was a ‘long way off yet’, Ó Cuív hinted to Máirtín Tom Sheáinín that he would contest the next general election. He’s hardly eyeing up Martin’s job?
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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