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Sometimes ‘parachute candidates’ don’t quite work out



Date Published: {J}

Fine Gael appears to have an extraordinary knack of producing a crisis which is perfectly timed from the point of view of Fianna Fail. Whether it’s a heave, or a bad dose of nerves caused by opinion polls, you can rely on FG to produce something out of the hat that will give FF a chortle.

But the ultimate ‘rabbit out of the hat’ was this week’s resignation from the Dail and Fine Gael of its brightest ‘new signing’ – former RTE Economics Editor George Lee, who joined the party in a fanfare, and had a huge victory in the Dublin South By-Election caused by the death of Seamus Brennan TD. Remember the scrummage on the plinth outside Leinster House?

Lee was plainly dissatisfied that the business of politics was not as he understood. He said he was not consulted, that his role was peripheral …. and that he had gone into politics ‘to make a difference,’ something he was not getting with the structures of Fine Gael as it stood at the moment. In other words, a young man in a hurry in a business where they all have their own sweet pace.

Now he pointed out in the lengthy interviews which he gave that he had had discussions on his role in the past week with Leader Enda Kenny who, apparently, offered him a front bench position, but, as far as George Lee was concerned, it was all too little and too late. Some in the party will wonder how Enda Kenny could allow a situation like this to arise and why he didn’t move earlier on a front bench position which was always on the cards.

Of course the extraordinary resignation will also fire-up speculation about the Enda Kenny leadership – we hardly needed the George Lee confirmation that Kenny’s leadership was being discussed, and discussed more often in recent times …… Fine Gael has had a perennial discussion going on about all of its leaders of recent times, and the debate becomes more discernible when a new opinion poll is published.

The most recent Red C poll showing a bounce of four per cent in support for Fianna Fail was guaranteed to give the FF morale a bit of a lift, and, as night follows day, it was certain to cause head-scratching in the ranks of Fine Gael, with one of the first questions being whether Enda Kenny would, eventually, be able to lead them to an election victory which would see them going into government with Labour.

You see there’s a growing feeling in Fianna Fail and the Green Party that they will be able to hold out to 2012 for the next general election. FF are lagging very badly in the polls at the moment, but that four per cent increase in support, and the hope that the worst of the anger might have moderated among their own voters in two-and-a-half years, is keeping them more confident than they have been in a long time.

For more, read page 14 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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