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Protestor at the D‡il makes all our anger concrete



Date Published: {J}

At four in the afternoon on Monday, my aunt – who’s in her 80s and has a heart condition – went into UHG for a hip X-ray. They kept her there until two in the morning, then told her to come back at nine. And the government reckons another 50 million can be shaved off a ‘service’ like that.

The summer’s gone, and time is right to get the bastards out. A range of tactics are available. At one end of the scale there’s Fine Gael’s simple but effective plan to just be awkward buggers. That is unquestionably legitimate – in fact it’s the system of pairing that throws democracy into question, as it dismisses any possibility that a Dáil debate might ever change anyone’s mind about anything. At the other end, you have driving heavy industrial vehicles into Leinster house. Now this . . . this is of questionable legitimacy.

I wouldn’t condemn it as terrorism out of hand. At the time of writing it doesn’t seem that the intention was to cause death or injury. Despite its huge mass the truck didn’t even break through the gates, so it doesn’t appear to have been travelling at much speed.

 Fergus O’Dowd of Fine Gael said that a Guard on duty had to "jump out of the way", but he is a TD so you can’t really believe what he says. (I mean you can understand why, being personally involved, he might exaggerate. I didn’t mean to imply for one moment that all TDs are habitual liars.) He claimed that if it had happened at a different time people might have been killed. True perhaps, but more an appeal to emotion than sense. People might have been killed if it had happened at a different place too. Clearly, though it at least borders on being violent protest, and it is very hard to make a case for using any violence against a legitimate government.

But, is this a legitimate government? I’m quite serious. In order to be legitimate, a government must have the assent of the ruled. Obviously the current crowd no longer has that, but there is the reasonable exception in a democracy for an administration to remain in power until the next election. It’s only when one cancels an election it knows it will lose that it becomes a dictatorship.

And how is that not exactly what they’re doing? Now three constituencies have to go without proper representation. The Government pretends that this is acceptable; nowhere in the Constitution, they argue, does it say that bye-elections need to be held in any particular period of time. While that’s true, it is probably because the framers of the Constitution didn’t think you needed to spell out the flaming obvious. They should be held as soon as practicably possibly, otherwise people are being disenfranchised for no reason except the Government’s political advantage.


One wonders why this administration is so bitterly determined to hang on to power. Why not let the opposition parties do the dirty work? I can think of one reason. In Iceland this week, the government that came to power after their economic collapse moved to prosecute the previous prime minister for misconduct.

Is that the future Fianna Fáil’s leadership is so desperate to postpone?

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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