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The Galway Tent is dead, long live the Galway Tent



Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

The famous ‘Galway Tent’ at Ballybrit may have been abandoned in 2008 when Brian Cowen became leader of Fianna Fáil . . . but you wouldn’t think it given how often today’s politicians talk about it.

The Galway Tent is alive and well: A trawl of Dáil speeches shows that our politicians cannot let go of the ‘tint’ that was synonymous with Celtic Tiger excess, as much as it was for Fianna Fáil fundraising.

Since the last general election, the Galway Tent has had dozens of mentions in our national parliament.  On the eve of the 2013 Races, we thought we’d give you a flavour of the name blackening the mythical Galway Tent has taken these past few years in the Dáil.

“. . . this party never had a tent in Galway and never shepherded people into it on a regular basis for contributions.” – On his high horse, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny declared to FF leader Micheál Martin in March, 2011.

Seven days later, that other guardian of the moral high ground, Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris wondered is FG, “genuine about putting an end to the culture of the Galway tent and cosy dinners and golf classics”.

In April, Cork TD Jerry Buttimer wondered, “Is the Galway tent being brought back”; and why not, because according to a Cork colleague 10 days later, “the Galway tent did a roaring trade”.

Buttimer, again, in May 2011, said his constituents are “not the high flyers or the socialites who were drinking in the Galway tent”, and the following month, that he would “not pander to the developers in the Galway Tent”; and in September 2012 he referred to the “Punch and Judy politics . . . of the Galway tent”. And earlier this year he wondered was the “Galway tent a mirage”.

For someone not keen on the Galway tent, Buttimer sure is obsessed with it and mentioned it more than any other TD since the last election, closely followed by Independent Seán Barrett.

Another TD who “never once visited the Galway tent” but who talks about it nonstop nonetheless is Joan Collins (Ind), while Senator Jimmy Harte also never darkened its door but knew that the Galway Tent was a place where “champagne corks popped”. Insightful, is Jimmy.

It took outspoken Tipperary TD Mattie motor-mouth McGrath to point out to FG last June that they were not exactly holier than thou when it comes to fundraising. “Fine Gael attacked the last government for the Galway Tent but those in the party have a fair number of tents themselves and a fair amount of money”. Touché Mattie.

The Galway Tent was accused of a lot of things, since the last election, the most bizarre being, “the destruction of the sugar industry”. That particular gem was a contribution to the Dáil by Tom Barry TD last October. Haven’t the foggiest what it’s about, either.

Long after its demise, the ‘tint’s’ Dáil and Seanad mentions go on and on and on. The Galway tent reference was once a poor attempt at a political putdown . . . now it’s still a tired cliché from lazy TDs who couldn’t be arsed coming up with new insults.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 


People Before Profit Galway’s something old from someone new!



The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

People Before Profit introduced its newest local representative with a press release about a familiar old theme: Galway transport and traffic.

Denman Rooke is now representing the party in Galway City East and has set his sights on winning a seat and becoming the party’s first ever PBP councillor on Galway City Council.

In his first public statement under the PBP banner, Rooke welcomed the BusConnects Galway project, which he said had the potential to encourage more public transport and cycling in the city.

“This not only helps tackle overall emissions, but our major traffic issues as well,” he said.

But who is Denman Rooke?

A 36-year-old professional artist and illustrator with strong trade union links, he’s been an art director in entertainment and games for the last 16 years.

A self-professed “eco-socialist activist”, he’s a trade union activist and committee member with Game Workers Unite Ireland which is part of Financial Services Union.

He’s also involved in the Cost of Living Coalition Galway, popular with PBP members.

Born in the USA, Denman Rooke spent a chunk of his childhood in various different countries.

“My father was a South African-born Irishman and my mother an Indian-born American. So, I have a family that is used to being spread out across the world,” he told us.

He spent most of his teens and early 20s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2013 he moved with his wife, Caitlyn, to work in Dublin and settled in Galway in 2013. The gamer got involved in local politics to make change.

“With such massive income inequality in our society, a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, climate crisis, and so much more, I felt I had to get involved. I believe socialism, through movements organised by ordinary working people, is the change our society needs,” said Denman Rooke.

He announced his arrival on the scene attending a protest outside University Hospital Galway last Saturday week, organised by Aontú, and was also at the BusConnects Galway public consultation in Renmore Community Centre last week.

With one high-profile resignation from City East already and at least one retirement of the old guard expected, PBP will be targeting a breakthrough in the Local Election in 2024 in a wide-open six-seat ward.

(Photo: The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Will it be third time lucky in Galway for Labour’s John McDonagh?



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

John McDonagh is planning another run in the Local Elections in Galway City Central.

He was the third leg of a Labour stool that wobbled in 2014; former poll-topper Billy Cameron got a scare but retained his seat, Colette Connolly lost her seat, and John McDonagh wasn’t at the races.

He bounced back in 2019 when Comrade Cameron retired – as did Colette, successfully running as an Independent rather than for Labour – but McDonagh narrowly missed out on winning a seat in City Central as Shantalla instead plumped for Connolly and the Green Party’s Martina O’Connor.

Without claiming a seat, the Social Democrats had a strong showing from Sharon Nolan, too, which gobbled up traditional socially-conscious Labour support.

Rumour has it, McDonagh, a community activist, is planning one last attempt to get elected to City Hall.

Will he get a Labour Party nomination to contest the election – well the candidates aren’t exactly queuing up for the party, now are they? – and can he make it third time lucky?

Meanwhile, there’s still no sign of a ‘Bacik Bounce’ for new party leader Ivana Bacik.

And no sign either of Labour in Galway West unveiling local election candidates for City East, a running mate for Níall McNelis in City West, or any candidates for Galway County Council.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 20 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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