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The Nolans: Nuala the cougar, Derek the toy-boy?



Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

City Councillor Nuala Nolan was co-opted onto Galway City Council in 2011, taking over from the Labour Party representative, Derek Nolan.

Derek left the local authority after winning a Galway West seat in Dáil Éireann in that year’s General Election, following in the footsteps of Michael D Higgins, who stepped aside and went on to successfully contest the presidential election.

That much we know.

But the question our Nuala is asked most often by the electorate she serves in Galway since replacing her namesake, Derek, at City Hall is: “Are you Derek’s mother?”

That’s closely followed by, “Are you Derek’s aunt?”

“Are you Derek’s sister?” is the other query she hears regularly on the doorsteps, she tells us.

We wondered if any of them asked was she Derek’s other half; his better half?

“Are you suggesting I’m a cougar,” laughed Nuala, “and that he’s my toy-boy?” We wouldn’t dare!

Other than soldiering together for working people, we in Bradley Bytes can confirm there is no such amorous link between Derek and Nuala and that there’s no familial relationship between the two Nolan Comrades either.

Déjà vu on SQR revamp

The Seamus Quirke Road re-vamp, which was delayed by months and months and was way over-budget, was one of the most controversial capital investment projects to be undertaken in the city in recent years.

Not quite in the same league as the Eyre Square redevelopment, but a debacle worthy of infamy nonetheless. We won’t forget it in a hurry, that’s for sure, and its legacy lives on, with St Michael’s GAA  club still without a pitch.

The work dragged on for longer than we care to remember, causing tailbacks through Westside and driving business away from the area, and all for a couple of bus lanes and a few fancy cycle lanes. But it’s done and dusted now and we’ve all moved on, as you can tell.

Imagine the horror then when we spotted a City Council advert inviting tenders to carry out works including “a pavement overlay of 246 metres of the Seamus Quirke Road in Westside”.

Are they for real?

“They’ve only just finished it and now they’re going repaving it again,” was the general gist of what we thought, with expletives removed.

We should have given the roads section at City Hall some credit . . . they’re not that bad. We made enquiries, and, phew, they’re not re-doing the SQR that they’ve just finished. Apparently they’ve tendered for works to be carried out on a different part of SQR, which stretches from Browne roundabout towards the university. Panic over.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 


Only 80 people signed Galway’s book of condolences for Queen 



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Only 80 people signed a book of condolences at City Hall in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.

The book was opened by the Mayor of Galway, Councillor Clodagh Higgins (FG), on September 12, four days after it was announced the United Kingdom and Commonwealth’s monarch had died. The condolences’ book closed a month later, on October 14.

It was available during normal opening hours during weekdays and so there were 25 working days in which the public could sign the book. It was not available to sign online.

Only 80 people bothered to go to City Hall to write a message in the book that has been sent to Buckingham Palace.

Classy Clodagh said she facilitated the gesture to allow members of the public in Galway to express messages of sympathy to the monarch’s family and subjects.

When she opened the book, and invited the public to sign it, Mayor Higgins said: “On behalf of Galway City Council, and the people of Galway, I would like to extend my sympathies to His Majesty King Charles, to the British Royal family, and to the British people and the members of the Commonwealth, on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout her reign, of over 70 years, she demonstrated a commitment to duty and to public service. Her passing is the end of an era, and our thoughts are with all those feeling this loss at this sad time.”

Despite the popularity of Netflix series, The Crown, and Irish people’s fascination with Royal gossip and pageantry; despite large crowds thronging the city’s streets pre-Covid to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s grandchild, Prince William and his wife Kate, who visited Galway in 2020; and despite the fact that Irish people love a good funeral, something that was borne out by the record viewing figures for the Queen’s funeral on RTÉ, Galway people didn’t bother much to sympathise in the book of condolences.

A Council spokesperson said: “A physical Book of Condolences for Queen Elizabeth was opened by Mayor Clodagh Higgins, it contained approximately 80 entries. The book of condolences has now been sent to the Royal family.”

It will, no doubt, offer great comfort to them.

(Photo: Huge crowds turned out to meet Prince William and Kate when they visited Galway in March 2020. And huge numbers watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on TV recently. But only about 80 people signed a book of condolences at City Hall in her memory).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the November 25 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Cyclist to be among riders in Galway’s local election?



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway City Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) goaded the Galway Cycling Campaign when he challenged them to run for election to City Hall.

The City East representative’s outburst on social media sort of summed up the general attitude some councillors have to campaigning cyclists: ‘If you think you could do better then go get elected.’

It’s not just Cheesy Cheevers. Many other city councillors privately believe those campaigners should put their names on a ballot sheet.

A ‘cycling candidate’ in 2024 seems unlikely, though. Not least because only a tiny proportion of the electorate will vote on the single issue of cycling infrastructure and road safety when choosing who to represent them on Galway City Council.

And also because many current councillors (think Colette Connolly, Owen Hanley, Martina O’Connor, Niall Murphy and others) already attract the support of the cycling lobby, while also offering a broader political agenda.

A Galway Cycling Campaign candidate could still emerge in the next year, though.

And part of the reason why Cheevers and others claimed that the cycling campaign was too focused on Salthill, (Eastside cycling was “not sexy enough”, was how Cheesy Cheevers put it), was because sitting councillors in City West believe their seats may be targeted by a cycling candidate in Salthill/Knocknacarra.

Sitting councillors believed that the Promenade cycleway campaign was used as a weapon to galvanise support not just for the cycleway, but also for a pro-cycling local election candidate.

That might be far-fetched. And, if true, it fairly back-fired on the cyclists with political ambitions. But Galway Cycling Campaign has a number of individuals who would not look out of place on a ballot paper.

Kevin Jennings, Chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, is an obvious contender.

Some among the cycling campaign come across as militant, with tunnel-vision. Jennings isn’t one of them – and if he is, hides it well – and is perceived as more ‘palatable’ to a wider electorate.

Public Relations Officer Martina Callanan is a shrewd media operator, particularly on radio. She was courted by a political party previously, and might be persuaded to run under a ‘cycling flag’ in 2024.

Another ‘friendly face’ among the cycling community who might throw her hat in the ring, is Gráinne Faller. Another savvy media operator, mother and businesswoman, she instigated Sundays 4 Safety, a political protest, with a small ‘p’, that calls for improved road safety for all users. Her weekly gatherings prove she can call on a small army of canvassers.

Shane Foran, who as reported here recently, was involved in a public spat with Jennings, doesn’t appear to be interested in electoral politics but is one of the names mentioned as a possibility every now and again.

Others who might fit the bill are Oisín Ó Niadh and Eibhlín Seoighthe, although an interest in cycling and politics does not necessarily translate into becoming an election candidate.

Many of the potential candidates have somewhat off-putting Twitter and social media personas that don’t necessarily match their actual, real-life personalities. They’ll need to find a heretofore hidden pragmatism and be willing to compromise, if they succeed in getting into the corridors of power at City Hall.

(Photo: Gráinne Faller, a savvy media operator who instigated the Sundays 4 Safety protest, calling for improved safety for all road-users. Those weekly gatherings prove she could call on a small army of canvassers should she choose to run in the local elections).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the November 18 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Clodagh has the neck for return of Mayoral chains!



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

When City Councillor Clodagh Higgins (FG) was elected Mayor of Galway on June 17, meetings administrator Ailish Rohan invited her to wear the chains of office for the official photographs at the Ardilaun Hotel.

It was following the long-standing tradition of mayors wearing ceremonial chains. Except what she put round her neck was a replica, not the original.

This, we hear, did not sit well with Classy Clodagh or her supporters. And so Chief Executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath was approached about giving her the proper chains for official functions.

Depending on who is telling the story, a threat to not wear a chain at all unless it was the ’proper’ one may or may not have been issued. But the prospect of a chainless mayor was an embarrassing situation management at City Hall was not prepared to risk.

Sure enough, Classy Clodagh used her charm to get her hands on the original chain, which is far more decadent and prestigious than the replica.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Two former mayors, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly – Clodagh’s immediate predecessors in the Mayor’s Office – have questioned why the proper chains are being used now when they were not available during their terms as First Citizen.

Classy Clodagh’s powers of persuasion are good! Not good enough, however, to have the city’s ceremonial mace and sword prised from storage.

The silver sword and mace, beautifully decorated, were first gifted to Mayor of Galway Edward Eyre in 1712.

They would add pomp to any official city ceremony. Alas, they have been in storage for several years, believed not to have been taken out on official duty since March 17, St Patrick’s Day in 2014 when the former City Councillor Pádraig Conneely (FG) was Mayor.

Will the sword and mace ever see the light of day again, or will they be thrown out during City Hall’s move from College Road to Mervue?
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the November 11 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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