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Bradley Bytes

Silver wedding and the big Five-O

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – A Sort of Political Column by Dara Bradley

Being married to City Councillor Frank Fahy, we suspect, is not all plain sailing.

Hats off then to his long-suffering wife, Gerardine, (not Geraldine, as we mistakenly called her in the past) for putting up with Frank the taxi driver for the past 25 years.

That’s no mean feat! Even Frankeen will attest to that.

The Menlo based duo celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary yesterday, Monday, September 30.

September 30, 2013 also happens to be Frank’s birthday and this year it’s a significant one – his 50th.

Frank tells us the fact that the two significant dates coincide has its advantages and disadvantages.

“It’s on my birthday so I never forget our wedding anniversary,” he laughs, “. . . but it means I only get the one present!”

 Tired and emotional at launch of book

It was the droll Labour Party Minister Pat Rabbitte who once said that insomniacs and drunks were the only types of viewers who tuned into RTÉ television for its Oireachtas Report programme.

Drunks and insomniacs sprung to mind when we discovered that former Galway West Fine Gael TD, Pádraig McCormack, who was the party’s chairman, launched his book last week . . . on a Monday night, at 10pm. 

Normally, you’d launch these things at a time most convenient for as many people as possible to attend . . . 10pm on a Monday night in September ain’t it, we’re afraid . . . unless of course you’ve a ‘lip on you’ or can’t sleep . . . or if you happened to be stuck there after attending a meeting.

Although it was a bit of an own-goal, in that the launch after the FG rally was hardly going to attract cross-party support, launching the book following the Fine Gael meeting on the abolition of the Seanad in the Menlo Park at least ensured there was no need to ‘rent a crowd’ and the Blueshirts there for the meeting would have felt obliged to remain on. 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020: No closure on opening ceremony costs saga

Dara Bradley

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Senator Pauline O'Reilly who is putting pressure on her Green Party colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, to seek transparency on costs from 2020.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway 2020, the company set up to deliver the European Capital of Culture this year, advised officials in the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht in February that costs associated with its aborted opening ceremony in Claddagh “were still being assessed”.

At a meeting with officials, minutes of which were released under Freedom of Information (FOI), “it was noted that much of the cost and activity” relating to the opening ceremony that was cancelled due to Storm Ciara, “were realised, including county events and community engagement over a sustained period”.

Interestingly, even though the costs were “realised” (that is, spent), it wasn’t recorded in the minutes how much Galway 2020 actually spent on the abandoned ceremony.

Fast forward five months to July, and Patricia Philbin, CEO of Galway 2020, who was at that February meeting with Department officials, was again asked about the opening ceremony costs.

This time it was City Councillors probing but the response was similar.

Galway 2020 at a meeting of Galway City Council, could not clarify a breakdown of the total €2.3 million costs to the organisation – and by extension the taxpayer – of the cancelled opening ceremony that was due to go ahead in The Swamp in the Claddagh.

An insurance claim is pending, but surely the public has a right to know how exactly its money has been spent?

How much did the stage cost, for example? Does the final outlay include travel and accommodation costs for VIPs guests such as 10 EU Ambassadors to Ireland who were due to attend? Were the MCs and performers, who were booked months in advance, paid retainers? And so on and so on.

Galway Senators Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) and Ollie Crowe (FF) have called for a full breakdown of how Galway 2020 has spent a total €18m to date. Not another cent of public money should be handed over, until that breakdown is provided.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Critic Connolly is Cat who got the cream!

Dara Bradley

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Catherine Connolly, one of the Dáil's most effective Deputies, won the vote for what is an important but impartial role.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The cynics among us, if we didn’t know better, might say that the Government lost the vote on Leas-Cheann Comhairle on purpose, rather than by mistake, so as to silence one of the sharpest TDs in Dáil Éireann, and a most vocal and articulate critic of this and the previous Governments.

Alas, even the cynics are all too aware that the current Government hasn’t the capability or capacity to intentionally pull off such a Machiavellian feat, even if it wanted to.

No. Fergus O’Dowd (FG) losing out to Galway West TD, Catherine Connolly (Ind), in a vote on who would become the deputy speaker of the Dáil, was not calculated to sideline Cat Connolly.

It was just another cock-up by the new Coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party that has dithered, stumbled and slept on the job – literally – since it threw together a programme for Government last month.

The upshot may be the same, though. As Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Cat Connolly, the Claddagh Queen, will be non-partisan in the chair. Her personal opinions and take on life will no longer be relevant when she’s deputising for Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Of course, when she’s not chairing Dáil debates, Connolly is entitled to have her say.

But will she continue to be outspoken? Can you tear lumps out of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Leaders’ Questions in the morning, and then expect to be viewed as a neutral arbitrator of contentious debates in the afternoon?

While not wishing to take away from Cat Connolly’s achievement of becoming the first ever woman to be elected into the position – shocking really that it’s taken 101 years to break that particular glass ceiling – from a purely selfish perspective, we hope parliament hasn’t ‘lost’ one of its most effective Deputies to what is an important but impartial role.

She will still be able to submit Parliamentary Questions, and there’s no way Cat Connolly could be fully silenced. But the Public Accounts Committee, in particular, will be less effective in the absence of her razor-sharp analysis, and forensic questioning of waste of public money.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cllr Owen Hanley nominates himself for a Mayor’s Award!

Dara Bradley

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Nominator and nominee: Owen Hanley, with his Mayoral Award nomination certificate.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Usually, there’d be a shortlist of nominees for the Mayor’s Awards before the actual winner is unveiled but this year it was done arseways.

City Councillor Owen Hanley, (Social Democrat) tweeted last week that he had received a “wonderful surprise”, that he was “nominated for a Mayor’s Award”.

“The winners have already been given out but even being nominated is touching,” he said.

He congratulated the winners, and thanked Mayor Mike Cubbard (Ind), “who always supports hardworking volunteers and community activists”.

Apart from doing it in reverse – announcing the winner and then revealing the short-list – what’s odd about this nomination is that city councillors tend not to be included in the Mayor’s Awards shortlist.

It’s not that councillors don’t do things that merit consideration for awards; they do. It’s just that what they do to merit awards tends to be voluntary work, associated with their involvement in politics and the community they represent.

Anyway, Cllr Hanley’s “surprise” that he had been nominated for a mayor’s award seems a bit disingenuous. That’s because, according to the application form, Cllr Hanley self-nominated for the award.

The name ‘Owen Hanley’ appears in the application form under two sub-headings; “nominee details” and “nominator details”. So, he was both nominee and nominator.

The application, received by the Council just before midnight on March 1, then details the work of Galway Pride, a voluntary organisation that organises the gay pride parade in Galway City, and a full week of events around it. It is the longest-running pride parade in Ireland, run by a committee of volunteers of which Owen Hanley is a member.

A City Hall source said the nomination certificates were, naturally enough, sent to the nominees as nominated by the nominators.

Maybe Owen Hanley filled out the form in error. Perhaps he meant to nominate Galway Pride and not himself, ‘Owen Hanley’. That might explain his ‘surprise’ on Twitter at being nominated for an award he in fact nominated himself for.

It’s just as well he didn’t win, because there could’ve been an almighty tug-of-war between himself and the Galway Pride committee over who would get the €500 cash prize, and the specially commissioned commemorative trophy given to award winners.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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