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Bradley Bytes

SF’s Cathal Ó Conchúir to top poll – in Indonesia!

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As well as in newspapers, on radio, on lampposts and at doorsteps, the battle for your vote during this year’s local elections is, to a lesser extent, also being waged over the internet.

Most candidates now have websites and blogs and Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.

Futile the lot of them, if you ask us – a million Facebook likes won’t equate to one single extra vote.

But politicians like to keep up with the times and even if they know social media isn’t necessarily going to win them an election, they reckon it can hardly hinder them.

Some candidates are more internet savvy than others but they’re all chasing the elusive ‘youth vote’.

For those sane readers among you who live real lives as opposed to imagined makey-uppy ones on social networking sites, and who aren’t familiar with the warbling of politicians on Facebook and Twitter: You are the lucky ones. Keep it that way.

Here’s a small synopsis of how it works: Candidate sets up Facebook page or Twitter account. People are encouraged to ‘like’ their FB page or ‘follow’ them on Twitter.

If you’re gullible enough to do that – and are a sucker for punishment – you will receive regular updates from that candidate about his or her election campaign.

It’s usually the puff-piece and propaganda nonsense that no other media organisation would bother using.

The Facebook and Twitter battle inevitably turns into a popularity contest: Mature playground stuff like ‘I’ve got more ‘likes’ than you’ is the sort of one-upmanship of social media savvy politicians or politeratti. 

Some haven’t many likes or followers, so in order to ‘boost’ their likes – and the perception that they are more popular than they actually are – they buy likes.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, politicians are stupid enough to actually pay money to companies who in return give them ‘likes’ and ‘followers’.

Fair enough, you say. Except the ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ you buy are generally from dormant accounts, fake accounts or accounts of people who are not even living in Ireland.

And more importantly these fake likes and followers can’t vote and are purchased purely to give the impression you are more popular than you are.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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CITY TRIBUNE

Will it be third time lucky in Galway for Labour’s John McDonagh?

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

John McDonagh is planning another run in the Local Elections in Galway City Central.

He was the third leg of a Labour stool that wobbled in 2014; former poll-topper Billy Cameron got a scare but retained his seat, Colette Connolly lost her seat, and John McDonagh wasn’t at the races.

He bounced back in 2019 when Comrade Cameron retired – as did Colette, successfully running as an Independent rather than for Labour – but McDonagh narrowly missed out on winning a seat in City Central as Shantalla instead plumped for Connolly and the Green Party’s Martina O’Connor.

Without claiming a seat, the Social Democrats had a strong showing from Sharon Nolan, too, which gobbled up traditional socially-conscious Labour support.

Rumour has it, McDonagh, a community activist, is planning one last attempt to get elected to City Hall.

Will he get a Labour Party nomination to contest the election – well the candidates aren’t exactly queuing up for the party, now are they? – and can he make it third time lucky?

Meanwhile, there’s still no sign of a ‘Bacik Bounce’ for new party leader Ivana Bacik.

And no sign either of Labour in Galway West unveiling local election candidates for City East, a running mate for Níall McNelis in City West, or any candidates for Galway County Council.


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 20 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City councillor chides ‘the Meeja’ for Crown Square coverage

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

At 2pm on Friday, December 16, a Galway City Council Corporate Policy Group virtual meeting was held on Zoom “at short notice”.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath told councillors present – Mayor Clodagh Higgins and Councillors Frank Fahy (FG), Peter Keane (FF), Donal Lyons (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab) and Martina O’Connor (Green) –  that a contract for the €45.5m purchase of Crown Square had been “executed” that morning.

And he told them he expected the sale would be completed the following Friday.

True enough, a circular to media and staff on Friday, December 23 confirmed the deal with developer JJ Rhatigan was sealed.

It was sent by the CE after 4pm when most people had switched on their Christmas ‘out-of-office’ automatic email replies and were knee-deep in mulled wine and mince pies.

The price quoted in the draft minutes of that meeting did not include the €11.1m required to fit-out the building. But sure what’s €11.1 million of public money among friends, eh?

All sorts of interesting questions were asked by councillors about the transaction. Some were answered. Others weren’t, or if they were, the replies were not logged in the minutes.

One contribution to the debate stuck out. It was from Councillor Peter Keane (pictured).

The city solicitor “noted for the record”, according to the minutes, “the very positive news story for the city on [sic] this significant achievement” of borrowing €45.5m to buy an office block.


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 13 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


And he also “noted his concern at the unbalanced media reporting on same”.

This wasn’t just a throwaway remark. Of all the things Peter Keane could’ve said, the one thing he wanted to highlight for the benefit of note-takers to record for posterity, was praise for the deal and criticism of media’s coverage of it.

Do councillors ever learn?

Just like the debacle with the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture project, when legitimate questions went unanswered causing collateral damage. And like the woeful waste of public money on the ill-fated arthouse cinema project before that.

Some elected representatives would prefer if pesky journalists did not ask about the expenditure of large sums of public money.

And when media organisations such as this newspaper do ask questions, the answers to which city councillors should’ve been in possession of prior to voting in favour of a loan that will saddle ratepayers with €2 million annual repayments for 30 years, they revert to type and crib about ‘unbalanced media reporting’.

Remember, ‘pulling on the maroon jersey’ doesn’t have to be about arse-licking and talking-up Galway. Equally, it can be asking legitimate questions about the process around what is one of, if not the, biggest ever transfer of public money overseen by this local authority, in a deal that was closed six months after it was first mooted publicly.

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