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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Some personal encounters with Dr Garret FitzGerald

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Date Published: 26-May-2011

As someone who has been involved in writing politics for the best part of 40 years, I met Garret FitzGerald when he was a young Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Liam Cosgrave administration, and later as Taoiseach, and over many years as a commentator.

He was a man of extraordinary attainment – economist, politician, political commentator, writer, and passionate conversationalist. But he carried the attainments lightly and without the slightest hint of self-importance.

He was more likely to appear with two odd shoes and a hole in the sole of one of them. Not for him the Charvet Shirt and the designer suit . . . indeed, if you put him into a designer suit, chances were that within a few hours he would be rumpled once again into the familiar figure you started out with some hours previously!

I first met him in Seapoint at a conference where he was a speaker as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I can’t put a year on it, but it seems to have been in the early years of the 1973-77 Fine Gael-Labour Government which was led by Cosgrave.

As a reporter covering the event for some paper or other, I approached Dr FitzGerald for his script. He was embarrassed that he didn’t have one – especially as someone who had been making part of his living from journalism in one of his many other pursuits.

Quick as a flash he commandeered one of the ancient Remington typewriters which was in the press room, slammed into the machine a few sheets of paper with carbon between them, and lashed-off four typewritten pages in a matter of 20 minutes.

It was a can-do attitude which he never lost over all the years. I think I told you previously about the time they called the General Election in 1977 and had forgotten that, though they were ministers and still in government, the civil service availability was now withdrawn because of the election. Garret was the man who went out to Eason’s to buy the folders for the minister’s scripts, and admitted it years later.

One of his most enduring traits was approachability. I remember on one occasion when he was Taoiseach and I needed to collect a script. He was staying in the Ardilaun House Hotel and when I called there I was told that he was resting in his room. However, the word came down that I should go on up to the room.

In the room was his unfailingly charming wife, Joan. She offered me a cup of tea and we had the tea and talked while Garret was taking a nap on the bed in the same room. Garret, she said, liked to take a lie down for 15 minutes in the afternoon and found that the way to get to sleep was to bring any old sort of a novel with him and he would nod-off instantly. A few minutes later he was up and buzzing about the place.

One could imagine what would have happened had he brought something like the Aer Lingus schedules with him. On holiday, he liked to plough through the schedules and work out more efficient times for arrivals and departures. He was always something of a ‘number cruncher’.

Garret FitzGerald, to the dismay of some of his handlers and campaign managers, was hopeless in the middle of a crowd, talking smalltalk and clasping hands. Someone said Garret FitzGerald would shake hands with a baby while his arch rival Charlie Haughey would kiss the child.

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

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.

A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.

Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.

Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.

Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action

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Date Published: 12-May-2013

The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.

There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.

Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.

Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.

Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.

The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.

However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.

Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.

 

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