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Santa shows up early for î Brolch‡in as Greens wring concession from FF

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Well, it just shows – you never know when your luck might turn in this game of politics. Last June, after a Local Elections defeat, the political future of Niall Ó Brolcháin looked bleak indeed, but now he is the Green Party nominee to fill a Seanad vacancy and the odds are stacked-up in his favour.

You see, only TDs and Senators can vote to fill two vacancies in the Seanad – and a deal was worked out between the Government parties (Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and former PDs), under which Fianna Fáil will take one of the vacancies, and the other will go to the Green Party nominee (in this case, the nominee chosen at the weekend is Ó Brolcháin).

All going according to plan, one seat will go to Fianna Fáil’s Councillor James Carroll, of Drogheda, who is being groomed as a possible FF candidate in Louth (to join Minister Dermot Ahern), now that Seamus Kirk TD has been elevated to Ceann Comhairle.

The plan is that the other Senate vacancy will go to Ó Brolcháin . . . it was the seat formerly held by Labour’s Alan Kelly, who had to resign the Seanad when he won a seat in the European Parliament in June.

The Greens wrung the deal from Fianna Fáil as part of the renegotiated Programme for Government, and, barring some extraordinary electoral accident, Ó Brolcháin should take his place in the Seanad after the vote by TDs and Senators on December 14.

Speaking to Ó Brolcháin at the weekend, he said he was delighted and honoured to be nominated for The Green Party. Understandably, he was a little bit cautious about any celebrations – just yet. After all, this was the man tipped widely to be a TD in 2007.

Ó Brolcháin had 10 years as a Green councillor on Galway City Council and stood in two General Elections in Galway West – where he got just over 2,000 first preferences in 2002 and over 3,000 in 2007. He was heavily tipped as a hot favourite to take a Dáil seat only a month prior to the 2007 General Election in an opinion poll produced by TG4.

That forecast he would be in the shake-up for the two final seats with Frank Fahey (FF), and Noel Grealish (PD).But, he survived to just the 9th count where he had 4,300 votes and was then eliminated.

At the time, it looked possible that, if he kept slogging away as a local councillor in Galway, he might be in with a shout as a potential Green TD. After all, Michael D Higgins (Labour) stood in the same constituency in 1969, ’73 and ’77 before he was first elected to the Dáil in 1981.

 Higgins lost that seat in 1982 and finally began a run of success as a TD for Galway West right from 1987 to the present day.

However, Ó Brolcháin suffered a colossal reverse for his political aspirations in the Local Elections last June when the Greens sustained an enormous defeat nationally in the Locals.

As a sitting councillor, Ó Brolcháin got just over 700 votes in the West Ward in Galway City. He was seventh in the first preferences but was a long way from the 1,400 quota and lost his elected base, the Galway City Council seat. He has been working since as a full-time official for The Green Party as a parliamentary secretary.

Ó Brolcháin has also been continuing with his constituency work and said at the weekend …. “in this politics business, you never know what’s around the corner. The party did badly in June but I believe it is still very much alive and active around the country and the issues just won’t go away. I would be honoured and delighted if I was elected a Senator.”

In the meantime, if this Government were to last another two years – who knows what changes there might be in Galway West. For instance, would Higgins be standing again? Would Fahey? Would Fine Gael’s Padraic McCormack?

INDEPENDENT MY AR**

Meanwhile, there was some ‘fighting talk’ in the background at that Fine Gael conference held in Galway last week – and one of the clear targets that emerged was that, as far as they’re concerned, Grealish may be standing as an Independent in the next General Election, but FG regard him as ‘a Government TD’.

Leading the attack was Fine Gael hopeful Councillor Padraig Conneely, who dismissed Grealish as “Independent my ar**”.

He said Grealish and Mary Harney, the last remnants of the Progressive Democrats, had consistently supported the Fianna Fáil-led Government which had led the country into the ruinous financial situation of the past year.

“When it comes to election time I have no doubt that Noel Grealish will have posters up around the place with lines like ‘keep an Independent voice in Galway West’. The fact is that he and Mary Harney have supported this ruinous Fianna Fáil-led administration in every single Dáil vote for years. He is Fianna Fáil in all but name and it is time that this lie was nailed,” Conneely said.

Conneely said that in the past week, for instance, Phil Hogan TD had put down a Fine Gael motion in the Dáil calling for a freeze on all commercial rates in a bid to give retail businesses around the country a chance of survival. But it had been voted down by the Government. So, the ex-PDs, who claimed to be Independents, were nothing of the sort.

“We in Fine Gael on Galway City Council – through people like myself and Councillor Brian Walsh – are involved in discussions here in Galway in a bid to freeze the rates for businesses. Involved in those talks as well are the three ex-PDs who now are supporting Grealish (Cllrs Declan McDonnell, Donal Lyons and Terry O’Flaherty), but in the Dáil, the ex-PDs can support a policy which is the precise opposite.

“It is time that Grealish came clean about precisely where he stands – we intend to make it clear to the electorate that he may call himself an Independent, but in fact he is a ‘Government TD’ like Frank Fahey or Éamon Ó Cuív and it is time he stopped this nonsense about being an Independent. Independent my ar**,” added Conneely.

Meantime, though Grealish has been playing his cards pretty close to his chest on precisely what ‘banner’ he plans to run under in the next General Election, it is quite clear that he plans to run as an Independent – and he has brushed off those approaches from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to join them.In the wake of the PD wipeout in the 2007 General Election, Grealish and Harney were the only two surviving PD Dáil Deputies. Harney kept her post as Minister for Health, while both herself and Grealish have proven rock-solid supporters of the Fianna Fáil-Green-Independents Government. Grealish has become a backbencher with an Independent label, and a considerable ability to get the ear of ministers.

It is hard to gauge precisely where his vote comes from, but Grealish with his 5,800 first preferences in 2007, must have looked carefully at the vote and analysed it when those approaches came to join Fianna Fáil (from Ministers Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey), and then from some of the top people in Fine Gael who wanted him on their team.

The easier one to rule out must surely have been the approach from Fine Gael. For, though FG are on the up in the opinion polls, all of the Grealish family connections going back for years are in Fianna Fáil. Grealish himself started as a Fianna Fáil Cumann officer when he was in his teens, and, if he joined FG, he would lose a chunk of that support, plus whatever slice of FF support came to him when Bobby Molloy retired. Molloy, after all, had more than 20 years as a Fianna Fáil TD and then 16 years as a PD Dáil Deputy.

Grealish obviously gave a lot longer thought to those approaches to join Fianna Fáil . . . the word is that they would still like to have him on board, but, right now, does he really want to join a party which is running at just over 20% in the opinion polls and which is associated with the economic catastrophe of the past year? FF may be slightly less unpopular right now and they look like – with Green support – they could last a few years yet in office, but the memory of the Local and European Elections drubbing for FF is a little too fresh in the minds of many. Grealish has been keeping his powder dry but he won’t go to Fianna Fáil.

Anyway, they have enough problems in Fianna Fáil with the three likely candidates – Ó Cuív, Fahey and Cllr Michael Crowe – all battling for their own futures and wanting Grealish’s name on the FF ‘slate’ like a hole in the head.

Sports News Archive

Galwegians get back to winning ways with six try rout of Students

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Galwegians 38

UCD 17

Galwegians got back to winning ways with a comprehensive six-try demolition of UCD in cracking match at Crowley Park on Saturday.

 

‘Wegians came into this game lying in second from bottom, and a win was vital to get their league campaign back on track, and they opened the scoring in the 12th minute when two graduates of their own underage system combined, with out-half Tadhg Leader feeding no 8 Eoin McKeon who made a fine break.

McKeon was stopped just short of the line, but he managed to off-load to Leader to score the opening try, which he duly converted for a 7-0 lead.

The danger from the visitors clearly came from their free-running backline, and they levelled matters in the 18th minute when full-back Michael Twomey sliced through the cover to score a try, which was well converted by out-half Niall Earls to level the game.

It got better for the Students when they took the lead on 25 minutes. ‘Wegians were punished when a long lineout throw in their own 22 went crooked in the strong breeze, and following quick clean scrum ball, UCD flanker Richie Bent took a pop pass to crash over near the posts, with Earls again converting for a 14-7 lead.

However the home side responded well and they completely dominated the remainder of the half, and just before the half-hour mark an excellent break by young winger Matthew Dever set up an attack, which was finished off several phases later by scrum-half Dave Moore who sniped over near the line.

Leader’s conversion levelled the game for a second time, and the hosts deservedly regained the lead just before the break. It followed an excellent cross-kick deep into touch from Leader’s younger brother Darragh, who made a very impressive debut at full-back.

‘Wegians won possession on the Students’ lineout, and several phases later it was older brother Tadhg who got in for his second and his side’s third try in the right-hand corner, leaving it 19-14 at half-time.

The Students thought they had levelled the contest once again at the start of the second-half when referee Simon McDowell awarded another try to full-back Twomey following the opening passage of play, but it was overruled as the touch-judge had seen a tackle in the air on ‘Wegians captain for the day Brian McClearn at the restart.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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Sports News Archive

November 20, 2009

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An extraordinary attack was made on the house of Mr. Berty Powell, assistant county surveyor, in Athenry last Friday night, About midnight loud knocking was heard at the front door and this was followed by kicking at the door and a man put his foot through the door and broke glass in the panels.

The windows on the ground floor were then broken – nine panes in four or five windows having been smashed.

The following morning, an Athenry man was taken before Mr. Stephen Ruane P.C. at a special court and charged in connection with the attack.

Paths problems

The residents of Mountbellew are about to petition the County Council to have the paths of the town repaired. Since the opening of the roads for the laying of pipes in connection with the sewerage schemes, the paths in some places have fallen under the road level and in wet weather, the water remains on the surface. The path leading to the Church, Convent and Monastery is also in very bad repair.

Slums menace

The relationship between housing and public health was stressed at a recent meeting of the County Galway Board of Health when the insanitary conditions in Ballinasloe were put forward as the main grounds for sustaining a petition by the people of Ballinasloe for a district hospital in the town.

It was stated that doctors were often called to see patients living in conditions in which even the most elementary principles of hygiene or comfort were absent.

About £13,000 was due by patients for treatment at the Galway Central Hospital.

No small portion of that was due by patients who could have been treated in their own homes if the surroundings were such as to enable the doctors to work effectually.

Fire tragedy

As a result of falling into a fire while her mother was fetching water from a barrel outside the door, a three year old from Derrygimla, Clifden, received burns which resulted in her tragic death at Galway Central Hospital.

Dr. Casey, Clifden, who was sent for, came at once, and having done all he could ordered the child to be sent to Galway to hospital where she died shortly after admittance.

1959

Sheep invasion from the North

The cattle invasion from over the Border has greatly diminished, but the invasion of sheep and lambs had markedly increased, especially since the sheep and lamb prices slumped in the North and Britain.

Victuallers are feeling the effects in loss of trade. Lambs imported from the North have particularly depressed trade in the West, where dressed lamb is being offered at prices so low that one would have to go back many years to find a parallel.

Urgent needs

To meet the increasing demand for a water and sewerage scheme to serve the urban area of Ballinasloe, both of which were urgent, would cost £68,000, the Council was told by their engineer. This would mean an additional 2/11 in the £ on the rates – this year 47/9 in the £.

In detailing the need for an extension to the water plant, Mr O’Connor, Town Engineer, said it was urgent. In the past eight years, demand for water went up 40 per cent.

Free houses

Tenants on the Scanlon Estate, Dunlo Hill, Ballinasloe, are anxious to purchase their houses from the trustees of the state, and are negotiating to do so. These seven houses were offered ‘free’ to the local Council by the owner, a Miss Scanlon, at present in the U.S.A., but the Urban Council refused to accept the offer.

Pub talk

How men in a public house at Ballymore put Fianna Fáil in and out of office and then did the same with Fine Gael with the result that the time passed until the Gardaí ‘caught’ them, was told the District Justice Loftus at Williamstown Court, when a Ballymoe publican was summonsed for a breach of the licensing laws at 1.40am on 16th June last.

 

Defence said it was the night of the Presidential Election and the men began discussing politics and put Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael into and out of office. In fact, the breach might be said to be caused by the Government having too many elections.

Shanty towns

Referring to “misunderstandings” with regard to recent statements made at Galway Chamber of Commerce in connection with “shanty towns” around Galway City, Mr. J. Lydon, president, said that he wished to make it clear that the members only wanted to control “unsightliness”, and that all types of holidaymakers were welcome to the city.

1984

Car tax strike over potholes

A ‘golden’ half-mile of road between Galway and Moycullen on which £500,000 has been spent over five years has sparked off a car tax strike threat from angry motorists.

For though half a million pounds has been spent by Galway County Council, the stretch is known among motorists as ‘the corrugated road’ because it is unfinished and potholed.

Frequent users of the road have reacted by threatening to withhold road tax payments.

Residents’ fears

People living in Corrib Park in the city have threatened to block a newly-built roundabout near their estate to prevent it being brought into use in a row over the safety of their children.

They plan to form a human chain on the roadway to prevent traffic from using the partially-completed roundabout, built as part of the approach network to the new bridge planned to cross the Corrib between Newcastle and Terryland.

Bus attacks

CIE may withdraw its bus service at night from a number of Galway City estates following a series of incidents in which drivers have been attacked and windscreens smashed by stone-throwing youths.

There have been at least four incidents over the past six months in which buses travelling through Inishannagh Park have been attacked with stones, while there have been numerous incidents in which the drivers of the one-man buses have been abused.

New trains

The most recent and up-to-date CIE train, the Inter-City Mark III, has passed its first week in operation – running from Galway to Dublin four times a week – with flying colours.

It is now faster to travel to Dublin by Inter-City than it ever was before. The Mark III is capable of doing a maximum speed of 95 miles per hour, compared to 72mph on the older trains.

However, it is at present impossible for the Mark III to do its maximum speed as the track running between Galway and Dublin would not be capable of holding it.

Signpost plea

A demand has been made for proper signposting and safety measures at unprotected piers in Connemara – it came following the deaths of three brothers who drowned when they lost their way in dense fog and their car plunged into the sea at Caladh Thadhg.

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Sports News Archive

O Fatharta goal puts Leitir M—r on cloud nine!

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Leitir Mór 2-14

Westport 2-13

(after extra time)

Declan Tierney atTuam Stadium

THERE is much greater satisfaction to be derived from winning a gripping encounter than prevailing in a rout. The expressions of the faces of the Leitir Mór players after this cracking Connacht intermediate club football final bore testament to that.

As darkness drew close at Tuam Stadium on Sunday, the South Connemara side could scarcely believe their good fortune as they edged out an equally wonderful Westport side in a match that had everything.

Some well taken scores, crucial goals, fantastic saves and a nailbiting finish evoked every emotion possible from the near 1,000 spectators who witnessed a match full of more twists and turns than they would find on a Gaeltacht road.

It was not surprising that Leitir Mór players, management and supporters were absolutely ecstatic after the match because apart from winning the prized provincial crown, they knew full well they could equally have lost it.

In fact, it was Leitir Mór who forced extra time to be played when Ferdia Breathnach scored a last gasp equaliser in injury time – they knew they had gotten out of jail and were relieved that they still had two 10 minute periods to prove themselves.

And that they did. Their hero of the day, Patrick Mark O Fatharta, really came into his own and scored the crucial goal three minutes in the second period of extra time to give his side a two point cushion.

O Fatharta, listed amongst the substitutes on the programme, played the full game at corner forward and contributed a tally of 1-7 and was ultimately the difference between the sides and his valiant efforts have put Leitir Mór within an hour of appearing in Croke Park.

However, even though his tonic goal late in the match proved the crucial score as far as his side was concerned, there was still plenty of wind left in the Westport sails and they had at least four chances of either making a draw of it or winning it for themselves.

If O Fatharta was doing the business up front, then so too was goalkeeper Eoghan O Conghaile who pulled off two incredible saves – the most crucial one coming in the dying seconds when Westport seemed odds on to snatch victory.

The Westport full forward Damien Keane had crept inside the Leitir More full back line and had a goal at his mercy only for O Conghaile to approach from his line and smother the kick. The sighs of relief from the Leitir Mór supporters were palpable.

While Leitir Mór looked like winning the match on several occasions, there were as many times when they appeared to be heading across the Corrib potless. It was an incredible match, full of intensity and excitement and was played at a blistering place throughout.

On occasions, Leitir Mór’s over elaboration threatened to be their undoing but they compensated with some brilliant patches of play – and particularly late on when it counted most.

Leitir Mór had the better start, looked comfortable when they held a four point lead during the first half and ended up having to summon up all their reserves to force extra time.Through Antaine O Griofa and Cristoir O Flatharta, they won the midfield exchanges throughout the first half but yet there was only a limited supply of ball reaching their forwards with the Westport backs marking very tightly and successfully.

County player Fiachra Breathnach moved from full forward closer to midfield and this had an immediate impact with Leitir Mór scoring four points in a five minute spell to lead by 0-7 to 0-3. Ferdia Breathnach, Daithi MacDonnchadha and Patrick Mark O Fatharta all finding the range.But this advantage was short lived with Leitir Mór relinquishing a lot of possession needlessly and it was one of these blunders which led to Lee Keegan finding the net for Westport in the 29th minute which actually gave them the lead at the break with Philip Keegan having earlier scored two points from play.

With Westport leading by 1-5 to 0-7 going into the second half, the sides were level twice before substitute Eamon O Lionsigh found the net having been on the field a mere four minutes. It came from a move involving Daithi MacDonnchadha and Fiachra Breathnach and put Leitir Mór into a two point lead.

Things were not going great for Westport who saw a couple of good scoring chances being wasted and then wing back Brian Higgins being sent off for an after tackle foul. With a Leitir Mór victory seemingly on the cards, Westport corner back Liam Joyce turned the game on its head with a goal the start of three minutes of injury time – putting the Galway intermediate champions a point in arrears again.

When Ferdia Breathnach scored a long range equaliser for Leitir Mór, it was no more than they deserved – neither did Wesport deserve to leave Tuam with a victory in such a last gasp manner.

It was to extra time and again Leitir Mór were guilty of hemorrhaging a lot of good possession as they stayed one point in arrears at the end of the first period, 2-11 to 1-13 in favour of Westport.It was Patrick Mark O Fatharta’s goal three minutes into the second period which sealed the match for Leitir Mór although they did have to endure some agonising moments as Westport sought a winner or at worst an equaliser but it was not to be.

Eoghan O Conghaile, Coilin O Hogain, Seosamh Seoige, Ciaran Bairead, Tomas O Griofa, Antaine O Griofa, Cristoir O Flatharta, Daithi MacDonnchadha, Patrick Mark O Fatharta, Eanna O Cathain and Fiachra Breathnach were the heroes of this 80 minutes of inspirational football from both sides.

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