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Connacht Tribune

Taking a stab at the next year on the political front

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It was the Spanish philosopher and poet George Santayana who said that those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them – and that covers just about every journalist I know. Particularly when it comes to redicting the outcome of elections – it’s always tricky, especially with multi-seat constituencies and proportional representation, involving transfers.

In 2016, for example, Maureen O’Sullivan got less than 2,000 votes in Dublin Central and still got elected on the back of a slew of transfers from half a dozen defeated candidates.

But sometimes, the trends are obvious – like a week out in 2007, when it was clear that Fianna Fáil was going to win a third term, or in 2011 that Fine Gael and Labour were going to make huge advances.

My late colleague Noel Whelan would publish the Tallyman’s Guide to the General Election in advance of each election. It was a brave piece of prediction, based on polls and local election results.

There was always the peril that he would get things spectacularly wrong. And he did on several occasions.

In the last election, Noel seriously under-predicted the Fianna Fáil comeback. At the same time, he was on the money on the Labour Party. He said the party would lose all but eight of the 37 seats it had won in 2011. The party’s hierarchy was outraged at such a claim.

Until the eve of the election, it was predicting it would return with between 12 and 15. In the event, it ended up with only seven.

I also underestimated Fianna Fail in 2016 and overestimated Fine Gael.

Despite patchy records, there are some trends that are unavoidable and predictable. The first is that the two big parties could both gain seats in the general election, whenever it occurs.

It’s certainly not going to happen in early autumn. But my own read on what’s happening in Britain is that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to force an election.

To read Harry McGee’s full column, buy this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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Connacht Tribune

Cancer Care West helps cope with loss

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Declan and Ailish Scully and their children presenting a cheque to Cancer Care West for money raised for their Chrismas swim, in memory of Aidan.

A Galway family has revealed their heartbreaking grief at the loss of a son and brother – to pay tribute to the Galway cancer charity that offered such support at their darkest hour.

Aidan Scully died of cancer in early 2020 – but as his mum Ailish talks about her son, the essence of this fine young man shines through her story.

The Moycullen native was only in this world a short time, but he lived his time well – and he left a lifetime of good memories for his parents, his five siblings, his wider family and many friends.

Ailish talks of a quiet and gentle child, an uncomplicated teenager, an ambitious young man about to embark on his chosen university course, the uncomplaining patient and finally the accepting soul who peacefully left them that night.

During Aidan’s illness the family turned to Cancer Care West and the Galway Hospice for support. At Cancer Care West, Aidan, his parents Declan and Ailish and siblings Eoin, Niamh, Sinead, Ciaran and Kevin availed of the counselling services which they found extremely helpful as they coped with his diagnosis and treatment.

Aidan also availed of the cancer rehab physiotherapy service to help him stay strong. And following Aidan’s passing the family sought bereavement counselling with the Cancer Care West team they had come to know so well.

At times Ailish saw the Galway support centre as a home from home as different family members came and went for appointments.

“Declan and I want to say a big thank you to Dr Helen Greally and her team,” said Ailish.

“They have been an amazing support for us throughout this time, helping us all deal with the trauma of Aidan’s diagnosis and his untimely death.

“It’s so important to have someone to talk to at times like this, someone professional who is not part of your normal everyday life.

“It gives you the space to work through so many emotions and helps you find the strength to move forward each day,” she added.

The loss of Aidan is still very raw and Ailish and her family have a way to go yet to find some peace and acceptance – but each of them is finding their own path forward and getting on with a life that, despite the enormous hole in it, has happy moments and good times.

As for Ailish, every day she wakes to thoughts of Aidan and the pain of his loss.

But sometimes something will happen, like a butterfly landing on her hand – and she is reminded that he is never far away from her and while she can no longer hold him in her arms, she is always holding him in her heart.

 

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