A Galway Senator has urged every member of the Seanad to read to a book by a former Galway City Council employee which alleges the abuse of power by officials and the background story surrounding the eviction of the late Bríd Cummins.
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh used his allotted time in the Seanad on the first day back after the holidays to call for a debate around the powers of CEOs in local authorities.
In Abuse of Power: Because Councils Can, Julie Grace outlines the scandal that has become known as the ‘Bríd Cummins’ Affair’. A former journalist with mental health problems, Ms Cummins fought eviction by Galway City Council and was subsequently found dead in her flat the night officials turned up looking to take back the keys of her home.
It also chronicles the author’s own struggle with officials in City Hall. She was Tenant Liaison Officer with the Council in September 2003 when she was first asked to accompany a neighbour of Ms Cummins to the offices of the local authority’s solicitors to help take out an injunction against Ms Cummins.
She refused, believing it morally unethical to provide the Council’s legal team to a private citizen. She also refused to sign off on a statement made by a former neighbour of Ms Cummins that was to be used in evidence in the Council’s eviction case.
Ms Grace believed the statement was an off-the-record solicited rant from an unreliable witness made years after she had left a flat and who did not want it used in court. The statement was used to paint a picture of Ms Cummins’ alleged anti-social behaviour.
Six months after the first incident, Ms Grace was let go. She had been the Council’s first liaison officer, a role she had developed for seven years. Funding was obtained to expand and develop the role and three positions were created.
“The main question is whether the Minister has a role in investigating the issues highlighted there . . . the power of CEOs and unelected people in local authorities is the core issue we should debate because a number of the characters who appear in the book have gone on to much bigger and better things in Irish Water and have become CEOs of other county councils in this State,” he told the Seanad.
“…Whereas this poor woman suffered very badly at the hands of the local authority, as is alleged in the book, the people who instigated that have gone on to much bigger and better things and have been rewarded for their work.”
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.
Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.
It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.
The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.
Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.
In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.
This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.
Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.
It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.
Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.
Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.
“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.
He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.
Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.
In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.
“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.
(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.