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Summer break offers Galway politicians a chance to take a good look at the local

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World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

An observation was once made of the American novelist Carson McCullers that the best part of all her books were the titles: The Ballad of the Sad Cafe; The Heart is A Lonely Hunter; The Member of the Wedding.

It’s true that she picked great titles but once you have read her work, you know her novels were also memorable.

A little bit like Tip O’Neill’s oft-quoted aphorism that “all politics is local”.

It sounds amazing but is it really true? Well, if you want to be really accurate it might read “most politics is local” but then it might not chime as well as a phrase.

There are a minority of politicians in Leinster House who focus all their energies on their constituencies with little or no engagement with national political issues. These guys could be classified as turbo-charged county councillors as their status as TDs allow them to make more headway.

Noel Grealish, the Independent TD for Galway West, is about the best example in the current Dáil. He has close to the lowest profile of any TDs in the Dáil, rarely speaks in the Dáil, and is not a member of a standing Oireachtas committee.

Like Micheal Healy Rae and Michael Lowry, he is not a member of the technical group, made up of Independents and members of small parties. In essence, Grealish’s impact in the next election will be largely judged on his local work.

As will the rest of Galway’s TDs and senators, although they have all had higher national profiles.

And none more so than the three parliamentarians who have lost the whip of their parties. The first to go was Labour’s Colm Keaveney, who crossed the Rubicon in protest at the budgetary cuts to child benefit, social welfare and the PRSI rate.

But it was clear, given his off-message public comments for months beforehand, that a casus belli (cause of war) pre-existed and Keaveney’s defection was not a question of if rather than when.

For a good while after his departure last December, Keaveney did manage to retain his role as chair of Labour, despite the obvious conflicts it entailed.

It was a position that he might not have retained after the party’s conference in the Autumn (if that is still going ahead) but for some it was seen as giving him incredible leverage, allowing him to be the authentic voice within Labour of grassroots dissent.

But modern politics is very tightly controlled and stage-managed and does not encourage any of its internal debates happening in the public’s gaze. Within a few months, Keaveney realised the influence he would bring to bear would be minimal.

Besides, in a constituency like Galway East, which is being reduced from a four-seat, to a three-seat, area, any chances he has of re-election will be improved by being free of the Labour brand.

Two Fine Gael Oireachtas members walked the plank over the abortion legislation, two of seven from a parliamentary part comprising just over 100 members.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Changes afoot when Electoral Commission begins its work

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Galway West TD Noel Grealish: an expanded Galway East constituency could take his territories in Claregalway, Carnmore or Oranmore.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Once upon a time there was a constituency called Galway South. And until 1961 there was the constituency of Galway North. If you go back to the 19th century it was just Co Galway.

For this generation, the two constituencies that have made up this county have been Galway West and Galway East.

But with each census, and with each population increase, those old divisions have come under threat. It was complicated more during the years of austerity when the number of Teachtaí Dála were cut back to 158 for the 2016 election. That could not be sustained.

The 1937 Constitution provides that the minimum population number for each TD will be 20,000 and the maximum will be 30,000.

There was a marginal increase of TDs in the 2020 election to 160. The Constituency Commission recommended that number based on the 2016 census. However, it gave an average representation of 29,762 of population per member, which was perilously close to the upper limit.

It made for some very messy constituency changes around the country. Galway was one of the counties most impacted. The problem did not relate so much to Galway as much as the surrounding counties, Roscommon in particular.

The Commission is told to try to retain county boundaries as much as possible. As Ireland has changed that has become increasingly difficult, even with the wiggle room afforded by the wide margin allowed: between one TD per 20,000 people; and one TD per 30,000 people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Donohoe discovers it’s the little things that trip you every time

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Minister Paschal Donohoe...embarrassing revelation.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

When the law finally caught up with Al Capone, it was not for organised crime, or for boot-legging – it was for failing to pay his taxes.

There’s a bit of a leap of imagination required for us to segue to the next paragraph. But stay with me …

We are writing about Paschal Donohoe, and the similarity is in the way that is the fact that it is a minor – and unexpected – fault or omission or act, that has also made his position vulnerable.

Donohoe is the third Minister in the past six months to find himself in hot water – not because of policies or Government decisions, but over omissions on personal declarations.

It might seem like a relatively trivial matter when compared with the huge impact that Government policies have on people’s lives. But governance is important.

Last autumn, the Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy ran into trouble when the online investigative site, On the Ditch, investigated his property interests. It emerged that Troy, a Minister of State for Enterprise, had not declared all his properties in his register of interests.

Troy initially did not respond but when he did it was only a partial explanation. Then there was more new information about his properties that was not known before. When you are explaining, you are losing, the American political adviser Karl Rove famously said. Now Troy was explaining and the more he explained the closer he got to the exit door. In the end he had no choice but to go.

Then only last week, the same website broke a story about Damien English and his home in Meath. This one went back a long time, to 2008 when English was a 30-year-old backbench TD.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Two Frank Fahys – sharing a name but not ideologies

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Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.... graveside oration.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

This is the story of two Fahys from East Galway. Both were involved in politics. One was a priest; the other a teacher and a barrister. Both opposed the Treaty but from the 1920s their paths diverged radically.   I had no knowledge of either man until very recently. Then a biography of Frank Fahy, written by Michael Fahy, was published last year.

‘Frank Fahy, Revolutionary and Public Servant’ is a fascinating account of how a teacher’s son from Kilchreest, born in 1879, became a leading figure in the Easter Rising, chose the anti-treaty side in the civil war, and became the Dáil’s longest serving Ceann Comhairle, chairing the chamber for 19 years.

Fr John Fahy was 14 years younger than his namesake but was already a militant nationalist by the time of his ordination in 1919. He travelled back to Ireland to attend the funeral of the republican priest Fr Michael Griffin, who was kidnapped and killed by the Auxiliaries.

Like Frank Fahy he took the anti-treaty side but for the turbulent priest there would be no reconciliation. He remained an unreconstructed militant until his death five decades later.

Frank Fahy went to UCG and became a teacher in Castleknock College in Dublin. He was a beautiful Irish speaker and very involved in Conradh na Gaeilge, becoming general secretary for a time.

He took part in the Easter Rising, being second-in-command of the brigade which took over the Four Courts. After narrowly escaping execution, he was one of the new MPs elected to Westminster when Sinn Fein’s won a complete landslide in 1918.

Taking the anti-treaty side, he was an abstentionist TD but joined Fianna Fáil when it was founded in La Scala in 1926. Michael Fahy paints a great scene when Frank Fahy topped the poll in Co Galway in 1932, which ushered in the first Fianna Fáil government.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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