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Connacht Tribune

Proposal for directly-elected mayors in county towns

Declan Tierney

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A radical proposal to appoint directly-elected mayors to three County Galway towns is to be put before the next meeting of the local authority.

The mayoral chains in Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea have been redundant for almost six years following the abolition of the town councils in 2014, as part of local government reform.

The abolition of the town councils resulted in the role of the Mayor being dispensed with, much to the annoyance of local community groups and public representatives who feel that these towns have been deprived of a figurehead.

The proposal by Tuam’s Cllr Karey McHugh will call for elections or plebiscites involve those who had previously voted in the town council elections in Tuam, Ballinasloe and Loughrea and would be held on an annual or, possibly, biannual basis.

It will also be suggested by the Independent councillor that the mayors of these three towns would become part of the Municipal Councils in these areas in an advisory role.

She said that it was a retrograde step to abolish the town councils and consequently dispense with the role of the Mayor.

“A Cathaoirleach of Municipal Council doesn’t really have the same ring to it,” Cllr McHugh added.

“In Tuam, for example, when we had a town council and a Mayor we used to have functions celebrating the Person of the Year and the group of the year but following its abolition, these ceremonies have also gone by the wayside.

“We no longer have a Mayor of the town that can attend events being organised by community groups and even when it comes to functions relating to our twinning with the Bavarian town of Straubing, we no longer have a mayor to represent us.

“I’m told that the loss of the mayors in Ballinasloe and Loughrea have presented similar difficulties,” she added.

She claimed that if Galway County Council had the willingness to restore the position of Mayor to these towns, it would not necessarily require any change to the Local Government Act.

It will be proposed that the Council seek Government approval to hold plebiscites in the three towns for directly-elected mayors to be appointed.

A similar plebiscite is being mooted when Galway City and County Councils are due to be merged in 2021. The plebiscite would ask the people of the county if they want a directly-elected mayor in the event of that merger going ahead.

Connacht Tribune

Sinn Féin surge turns Galway’s political landscape on its head

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Galway West Fianna Fail candidate Eamon Ó Cuív celebrates after his election with his wife Aine, their children Eamon Óg and Eimear, and grandchildren Aine, Mairead Eamon and Sean. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

It was a day that few – including Sinn Féin’s own faithful – saw coming, as a surge across the whole of the county saw the party, which was almost wiped out in the local elections, take two seats and go close to a third across Galway’s three constituencies.

The second phenomenon from the weekend’s results was the success of female candidates, with the three areas returning five women TDs for the eleven seats. The election of Mairead Farrell, Catherine Connolly and Hildegarde Naughton in Galway West alone marked a record return in a constituency which only elected two female TDs for the first time in 2016.

But – mirroring the rest of the country – the rise and rise of Sinn Féin was the big story, with candidates coming from the back of the pack to dominate.

The focus has now switched to the formation of a new Government – and while Fianna Fáil’s only poll-topper Eamon Ó Cuív proclaimed himself willing to work with Sinn Féin, so too Roscommon/Galway Independent duo of Michael Fitzmaurice and Denis Naughten revealed they were willing to talk to all sides who would take their policies on board.

Éamon Ó Cuív said Sinn Féin’s links to the IRA – and the armed struggle during the Troubles – were not a barrier for Fianna Fáil ‘doing a deal’ on a programme for Government.

And the grandson of Éamon de Valera, founder of Fianna Fáil, said a coalition between Sinn Féin and his party was still the most likely scenario.

“The options are narrowing. Sinn Féin can’t make it with small like-minded parties. Fine Gael are closing the door on everybody. And it could be a question of the last two standing, which would be Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin,” he said.

See our full election coverage across Galway East, Galway West and Roscommon/Galway over 18 pages in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune website and social media tops the poll

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The Connacht Tribune’s award-winning website and social media channels topped the poll at the weekend for unrivalled up-to-the-minute election tallies, counts and analysis.

Over the past week, connachttribune.ie attracted more than 87,600 users and recorded 227,400 page views.

Of the users, just over 75,000 were in Ireland (85%), but the election coverage also attracted 3,800 readers from the UK (4.3%); 3,600 (4.1%) in the United States; nearly 1,500 in Turkey (1.6%) and more than 700 in Australia (just under 1%).

Hundreds more expatriates tuned over the weekend from numerous European counties and as far afield as India, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, South Africa, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia – and they returned for more!

Meanwhile, our Facebook page was leagues ahead of all other local media, with 458,000 engagements (clicks, likes, shares and comments) for the week to February 12th – fifteen times higher than some other outlets and more than 267,000 ahead of the closest.

On Twitter, the @CTribune account earned more than 207,000 impressions (the number of times our tweets were shown in people’s timelines) last weekend.

The figures show, once again, that the Tribune is the most popular and trusted news source in Galway.

 

 

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Country Living

A case for taking some of the bumps from the ‘Green Road’

Francis Farragher

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In search of the 'middle ground'.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

The dust has settled on the election campaign . . . well sort of . . . and now all of the different parties and interest groups are battling it out to have their say in the direction of our country in the months and years to come. We’d all love to be able to look forward to a greener, fairer and happier era, but the great reality of life is that there has never been a path without its bumps and twists.

American writer, publisher and philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, Elbert Hubbard probably summed it all up with his famous quote of: “Don’t take life too seriously: you’ll never get out of it alive.”

There are days on the farm when a walk by the river bank or by stone walls that are partly papered with whitethorns and briars just gives a feeling that at times, there is a close alignment between nature and those of who have some every-day link with the land.

In most ways, despite our tendency to whinge about the wind and rain, we are blessed with a climate here in Ireland that means we’re always destined to have the greenest of green isles, despite all the harbingers of doom, who tell us that we’re doing little right when it comes to the future of our planet.

There I was, watching a pre-election TV debate a couple of weeks back when a Dublin woman who admitted she knew nothing about farming said that maybe we should ‘cut back’ on the national herd – her view being essentially based on what she had heard someone else say.

In those debates nowadays, the trend is for such contributors to have a 13-year-old offspring perched beside them, primed to provide a little Greta Thunberg style lecture to us heathens who won’t genuflect on the spot at such outpourings.

Now, I won’t go into any diatribe about the right way to bring up children, because never since the beginning of mankind has there been any ‘guaranteed guide’ on that topic, but I do hold onto to a small old-fashioned belief, that children and teenagers, should as a general rule, not have to be catapulted prematurely into the world of adulthood, and especially so by their parents.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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