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CITY TRIBUNE

Senator poses ‘awkward’ questions on 2020 spending

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Galway’s year-long designation as Capital of Culture in 2020 could turn into another ‘arthouse cinema debacle’ without proper checks and balances being put in place, a senator has cautioned.

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has again warned about a “lack of oversight and lack of transparency” with regard management of the project now and into the future.

The Sinn Féin politician has posed ‘awkward’ questions of Galway City Council this week in relation to a possible €800,000 overspend so far on the City of Culture and the proposed €230,000 annual salaries of two staff who are to be recruited.

The Connemara-based senator has also queried if the Council has followed proper tender procedures when choosing a company for recruitment, and questioned whether a finance and audit subcommittee of Galway 2020 has been established, as was promised.

The City Council has acknowledged his series of questions and has promised to revert with answers as soon as possible.

“It is important that public representatives ask tough questions now to ensure the success of this designation. I am worried now that there is a complete lack of transparency and a lack of oversight, which could lead to another arthouse cinema debacle,” said Senator Ó Clochartaigh, who fears the City of Culture could turn sour like the ill-fated and long-delayed cinema project.

There are four strands to his questioning, with the first two involving money.

He has asked Galway 2020 to publish a breakdown of the costs associated with the bid. The bid book said expenditure would amount to €1 million in 2016, “but we are told the bid process cost €1.8 million, so does that mean a budget overrun of €800,000 and where will that shortfall be funded from?”

The Council has acknowledged that €27 million from European, state and regional sources will not be available until 2019 or 2020. “The €1.4 million prize for winning the designation isn’t guaranteed either and is only paid if the city delivers on what it said it would in its bid book. Even then it won’t be paid until after 2020, so where is the money coming from in the meantime,” he said.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh has also questioned the advertised salaries of CEO and creative director of the project, which amount to €120,000 and €110,000.

“That’s the guts of a quarter of a million. It’s a lot of money, especially when the City and County Councils are totally strapped for cash. That type of money seems very high to me, especially when there are expenses on top of that.

“I’ve been speaking with artists in Galway who are very concerned that artists will see little financial benefit from the City of Culture because all the money will be spent on managers and administrators. How many more people do Galway 2020 plan to hire in addition to a CEO and creative director? And how does the advertised salaries compare to those of the Galway Arts Festival, Babaró, Cúirt and other cultural and artistic events, because what I’m hearing from people in the industry is close-on €250,000 is quite high?”

Derry company Connected Talent has been chosen to run the recruitment process and Senator Ó Clochartaigh has asked for clarification on whether this was a position that was advertised and given through a public tender process.

“I have also asked the project promoters to clarify what role Connected Talent, or its employees, played in the Derry City of Culture 2013 project, because it seems that this has been key to them securing the contract of recruiting the Galway 2020 team. The company, according to its own PR, was only set up two years ago, after the Derry project was finished.

“I would also like to know who the members of the finance and audit subcommittee of Galway 2020 are; when and how they were appointed; and details on who is carrying out the independent monitoring and evaluation that is outlined in the bid book,” he said.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said his ‘unpopular’ questions are ones that must be asked if Galway 2020 is to be a success.

“There is a sense out there that Galway 2020 is going to be brilliant and great for the city, and it can be, but from speaking with local artists, there is also a very real fear that it could turn into a debacle, without proper oversight and transparency and monitoring. Now is the time to ask the questions, not when it’s over,” he added.

CITY TRIBUNE

City Council’s contempt for the public it serves

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A City Council picture showing an aerial view of work on the new pedestrian bridge. The local authority has not covered itself in glory when it comes to informing the public about road closures to facilitate the project.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway City Council appears to just do what it wants when it wants.

Last Friday, it officially closed a road at Newtownsmyth. It will be closed until October 28.

The closure, which was to commence last Friday, September 23, was to facilitate construction works on the new bridge at Salmon Weir for pedestrians and cycling.

It is essential work and the closure is necessary for health and safety purposes.

The City Council, as is only right and proper, advertised the closure in advance, online and in a free-sheet newspaper. So far, so good.

Except, as anyone who knows Newtownsmyth is aware, that road has been closed for weeks and even months prior to the September 23 official closure start date.

Trying to find the City Council’s closure order, and public notice, for closing the road at Newtownsmyth prior to September 23 has proved as difficult as sourcing the Third secret of Fatima.

Requests to City Hall’s communications department to confirm whether the Council had a legitimate closure order prior to September 23 have not shone any light on the subject.

And so, in the absence of an adequate response, is it reasonable to conclude that the Council did not have permission to close Newtownsmyth prior to September 23?

And if that’s the case, can the Council now just go around closing roads willy-nilly, without notice and without allowing input from residents and users of the road?

Maybe it was a mistake. If it was, why not say so? The Galway public is forgiving. Maybe they had gone through proper procedure, but why not just show us the notice if that’s the case?

For too long now, though, City Councillors have been treated with contempt by the unelected executive at City Hall and the suspicion is this closure without notice was just another manifestation of that contempt spreading to the public too.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City sides will fancy chances of advancing as champions face Corofin

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Bearna's James Kennedy hits the deck in Ballinasloe on Tuesday as Annaghdown's Frankie Burke and Darragh Meehan try to chase down possession. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The battle for this year’s county Senior Gaelic football club title looks to be wide open after the quarter-final draw was made this week following the delayed conclusion of the group stages on Tuesday night.

Salthill/Knocknacarra, who finished second in group 2, have been handed a last eight tie with a Tuam Stars side that finished third in group 1; while St Michael’s, who topped Group 3, will face an Annaghdown side that nabbed the final quarter-final spot in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night.

They went into their game with Bearna knowing they needed to win by a minimum of 12points to pip Milltown to the final qualifying spot as the second best of the teams that finished third in the group stages.

They looked to be coming up just short until they were awarded a late free, which goalkeeper James Healy converted, to snatch that remaining quarter-final slot on socring difference form Milltown.

The 2020 champions, Moycullen, will take on Claregalway in the last eight; while the pick of the ties is undoubtedly the clash of defending champions, Mountbellew/Moylough, with a Corofin side that was denied the five-in-a-row by Moycullen two years ago.

At the other end of the equation, St James’ are in a relegation battle, and face a clash with An Spidéal in the preliminary play-offs. A win will secure their senior status for another year, but a defeat will see them join Oughterard, An Cheathru Rua, and the losers of the other preliminary play-off between Caherlistrane and Monivea/Abbey in a round robin league, with the bottom two sides in those play-offs dropping to the intermediate ranks next year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Play-offs dress rehearsal facing Utd against Treaty

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Former Galway United player Enda Curran celebrates his recent hat-trick for Treaty United in their FAI Cup quarter-final win over UCD. The in-form Mervue native will be facing the Tribesmen in a First Division clash on Friday.

GALWAY United head to Limerick this Friday evening for what is looking like a dress rehearsal for the end-of-season play-offs as they take on Treaty United in the Markets Field (7.45pm).

This is United’s game-in-hand over league leaders, Cork City, and a win will see them close the gap on the Leesiders to four points with three games remaining, and while a win would give the slightest of hopes of a late challenge for league honours, it is more likely to serve as a further boost to confidence ahead of the protracted play-off series that kicks-off at the end of next month.

United need to win their final four games to have any hope of snatching the title, and given the goal difference between the sides, they also need to hope that City don’t pick up more than four points from their last three games, if they are to finish top of the pile.

United’s last three games after this weekend are at home to Athlone, away to Wexford, and home to Longford Town; while City are home to Wexford, away to Athlone, and home to Bray, the easier of the two run-ins, so for United it is all about building momentum ahead of the play-offs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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