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Bradley Bytes

The Galway Tent is dead, long live the Galway Tent

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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. 

CITY TRIBUNE

Foul stench of urine on Galway City’s streets

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Bradley Bytes – a sport of political column with Dara Bradley

The stench of urine around Galway City is quite something.

It’s not everywhere, but every now and then while walking the city’s streets, you’ll turn a corner and be hit with this pungent odour. It makes your nose crinkle and eyes nearly water.

The hot weather doesn’t help with the smell. Nor do Covid-19 restrictions.

Galway City Council has provided some portaloos at various points in the city centre.

Ugly and all as they are – and boy they are ugly, ruining the views at beauty spots such as Spanish Arch – the temporary toilets are a necessary evil.

But the bigger problem right now is not the aesthetics of them, or their impact on the streetscape, it’s that there aren’t enough of them. And that means that a great number of people are getting caught short while out socialising in town.

When they can’t find toilets, they improvise. This – judging by the smell on certain streets – means many people are just peeing in public, mostly up against buildings, street corners, parks, beaches and along the waterways.

It is not gender-specific either – both sexes have been seen ‘toileting al fresco’.

It’s not ideal. And obviously we’d prefer if people didn’t do it. But given that it is happening, and it stinks and creates ugly stains on footpaths, could the City Council hire someone to power-hose the streets?

It’s really not a good look.
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

RTÉ expenses’ exposé justifies TV licence fee

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Irish people have a love hate relationship with the national broadcaster. In keeping with our begrudging nature, we love to hate it. But, paradoxically, we have an ingrained affinity with it too. And for all its faults, it is ours. News and current affairs distinguish it from other channels.

RTÉ’s Irish language services – Radió na Gaeltachta and Nuacht TG4 – despite operating on shoe-string budgets compared with their English language counterparts in the same stable, are excellent and justify the licence fee.

So too does Prime Time Investigates. The only complaint you’d have with it, is there aren’t enough investigations by Prime Time.

That’s because journalism, particularly investigative journalism, takes time and money. And notwithstanding that they do pay their ‘stars’ too much, RTÉ is nearly always short of money.

Last week, RTÉ did the State some service with its exposé of the flawed expenses system for people elected to local authorities.

It was worthy of licence fee funding. One man who got full value from his TV licence fee, from the programme, was Galway City Councillor Declan McDonnell.

Without RTÉ Prime Time Investigates, we would not have known that he had repaid and refunded over-claimed expenses.

The ex-PD, who topped the poll as an Independent in City East at the most recent local election, didn’t feature on the TV programme but was one of many elected members named in an accompanying lengthy online article.

In it, Declan confirmed that he had over-claimed and refunded expenses relating to attendance in 2015 at a Committee of the Regions seminar in the Netherlands on Thursday, March 12, and a conference in Monaghan on the same day.

“I realised that when I completed the GCC form, I over-claimed one day and this has since been refunded to Galway City Council,” he said.

On another occasion, he told RTÉ he had made a mistake on a claim form submitted, and subsequently refunded a daily allowance of €33.61 to the City Council. This related to meetings in Leitrim and Roscommon on the same day in 2019.

A claim form indicated he had attended a planning meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, and returned at 10pm on Friday April 5. Another claim form – related to a Committee of the Regions-related meeting, at the Northern and Western Regional Assembly in Ballaghaderreen – said he left home 11.30am on Friday, April 5, for a 2pm meeting, returning home at 5.45pm.

He explained to RTÉ: “Following discussions with my family, they have recalled that I left the conference in Carrick-on-Shannon early morning on April 5, 2019, to return home and deal with an urgent family matter. I then left Galway to attend the CoR meeting in Ballaghaderreen.”

The money amounts are quite small. And, Declan McDonnell was one of many highlighted in the investigation who had made mistakes claiming expenses.

A conscientious and experienced city councillor like Declan McDonnell would no doubt thank RTÉ for bringing it to his – and our – attention.

On a broader level, RTÉ deserves credit for investing time and money into shining a spotlight on an expenses’ system that nearly all councillors agree needs an overhaul.

(Photo: Councillor Declan McDonnell)
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

History repeating in centenary commemorations controversy

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

History has a habit of repeating itself. And when it comes to commemorating centenaries, Official Ireland – and Official Galway – doesn’t learn from past mistakes.

In 2016, there was uproar locally over CIÉ’s refusal to return a plaque, which celebrates local 1916 Easter Rising hero, Éamonn Ceannt, to the façade of the wall outside the city centre train station that’s named after him.

And who could forget the furore over Galway County Council’s plans to commemorate Patrick Whelan? He was Galway’s only 1916 Rising fatality; he was also a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and so you could see how only celebrating a policeman who was shot and killed by Irish Volunteers, might be controversial.

In 2020, the then Mayor of Galway, Mike Cubbard, took a stand to boycott the planned national commemoration for RIC men and Dublin Metropolitan Police who died during the War of Independence.

Have we learned from these incidents? Have we heck!

On Saturday, the Crane Bar off Sea Road, played host to The Irish War of Independence Galway Centenary Conference, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of when the truce was signed. Organised by military historian, Damien Quinn, it heard from 12 speakers, all experts in different aspects of that period in our history.

It was the sort of event Galway City Council could and should have proudly supported but didn’t.

Some individual councillors supported it. Mayor of Galway, Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) launched it. Fianna Fáil councillor John Connolly was one of the speakers and gave an account of ‘The killing of Father Griffin’. Labour Councillor Niall McNelis also spoke and introduced the conference . . . he even donated €200 to cover some costs.

But the City Council Executive ignored it; the local authority gave no money and no other form of support.

In total, it cost about €700; much of this involved making a ‘digital book’ from recordings of the contributions. The Council ignored repeated requests for support, including a first approach in February.

We’re told that the City Council, in conjunction with the Galway City Creative Ireland Team, including the Council’s Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, has developed the Decade of Centenaries programme. But unlike many other local authorities, they didn’t use an Open Call process to invite ideas from the public and community groups.

Our shared history belongs to the people, and yet City Hall, in its wisdom, excluded people from decisions on how and what was going to be commemorated. Will they continue to ignore the public for the upcoming Civil War centenary?

(Photo: Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly, with Mick Crehan of the Crane Bar, military historian Damien Quinn, and Councillor Niall McNelis ahead of last weekend’s War of Independence conference. Galway City Council did not support it).
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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