Sinister targeting of councillors souring local politics in Galway


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Sinister targeting of councillors souring local politics in Galway Sinister targeting of councillors souring local politics in Galway

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It would be easy to dismiss it as just incoherent ráméis. But when an anti-refugee protestor turns up at the home of a city councillor, ranting and raving, it has a chilling effect on local democracy.

That’s what happened earlier this year. A disgruntled protestor landed at the private house of one city councillor, armed with a camera phone and bile.

He spouted nonsense about the councillor, while standing across the road from their home. The incident was filmed by this lone ranger and shared on various platforms. The elected member’s house and vehicle were clearly visible in the video that ‘did the rounds’.

It matters not that the ramblings made no real sense. What mattered was that this exercise was designed to put the fear of God into a councillor who, regardless of their political viewpoints, had earned a mandate from the people at the last local election.

This was not just intimidating one person; it was intimidation of all those who believe in parliamentary democracy.

Some of the contents of the videoed monologue could be described as anti-Government rhetoric, which was run-of-the-mill. Fair enough.

But the ramblings included references to “hypocrisy” and to “lunatics”, and claims about someone being “stabbed in the neck”. Some of the claims spouted couldn’t be repeated here in print as our libel lawyers would keel over.

Then there was a sinister declaration: “Today is your day of reckoning.” And there was “another one coming to you . . . Because there’s another story coming out about you that I don’t like either”, the protestor said, adding he was “disgusted” with this councillor, who he said was “in very serious trouble”.

It was, quite rightly, perceived as a threat and reported to Gardaí.

When people enter the political fray, they enter public life and must take the rough with the smooth. Their political views and policies and decisions are fair game for criticism.

But targeting a city councillor’s home is the opposite of open and honest political debate. It is cowardly and an affront.

Another city councillor with young children has installed CCTV cameras at the entrance to their home, as an extra layer of protection from someone who is harassing them. And another city councillor, who was once mayor of Galway, has received death threats.

When you consider all that, you start to question why anyone would want to get involved in local politics at all anymore.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the October 13 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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