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Bradley Bytes

#VINB has soft spot for Queen of the Claddagh

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Deputy Catherine Connolly on one of her many, many appearances on Tonight With Vincent Browne.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Vincent Browne has a crush on Catherine Connolly. There – we said it. You were all thinking it. Just afraid to say it.

Well now that it’s out in the open, we can all stop feeling so awkward about it. And move on and just watch the Tonight with Vincent Browne programme in, ahem, comfort.

He’s the most curmudgeonly of cranks at the best of times, but the bould Vincent always has a twinkle in his eye when Catherine, the Claddagh Queen, is on his late-night current affairs show.

Which is almost every other night since Catherine was elected to Dáil Éireann.

If she’s not ‘live’ on the panel, he’s replaying her contributions, using video clips, from the Dáil earlier that day.

Don’t get us wrong. The crush isn’t a sexual thing. It’s more like a man-crush, except for the obvious – Catherine isn’t a man.

Maybe it’s a mutual-admiration barrister thing. Or maybe it’s the novelty factor with Catherine, and he’s getting tired of Clare Daly.

But Vincent certainly has such a soft spot for her. It’s obvious because the TV3 presenter just listens when she speaks, something ordinarily he’s incapable of doing with some other guests.

He gets all light-hearted, too, when she’s giving it socks with left-wing rhetoric.

Watch out, though Catherine, watch out. It’ll never last. And when he turns, it’ll be forever immortalised on YouTube.

No cliché is safe

Political speech writers are predisposed to use of cliché.

They leave no stone unturned in digging up clichés for speeches. It’s their Achilles heel. They probably cost an arm and a leg, too, but at the end of the day, speech writers are as useful as tits on a bull.

For some political speech writers, clichés are all in a day’s work. For others, all’s fair in love and war . . . and clichés are fair game, and all that jazz. Speech writers know that actions speak louder than words, and that’s the ace up their sleeve. They also know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and so they like to go out and paint the town red but never air their dirty laundry in public.

The clichés make some as sick as a parrot. But even though an apple a day keeps the doctor away, some of them always look on the bright side and find that as long as they’re as honest as the day is long, that’s as good as it gets.

For some politicians, all’s well that ends well and they’re happy to employ cliché-prone speech writers – after all, any port in a storm.

There must have been all hands on deck with them last week, what with all the speeches that were made.

On Sunday, Arts Minister, Heather Humphreys, described the Arts Festival as Galway’s “jewel in the crown”.

Great minds think alike and all that except Noel Larkin, our new city mayor, thought the Festival was Galway’s “crown in the jewel”.

With all due respect to their respective speech writers, their clichés are the elephant in the room. Perhaps it’s time they went back to the drawing board.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

How would you rate your Galway City councillor? 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley. From the pages of this week’s Galway City Tribune.

As Galway City Council returns after the Summer recess, we run the rule over all 18 elected members ahead of a busy schedule of meetings between now and Christmas. In short, they all ‘could do better’!

GALWAY CITY EAST

Alan Cheevers (FF)

Tends not to think before he speaks. Notion to build a stadium in Doughiska for a World Cup bid was a non-runner that boosted his profile and damaged his credibility.

Own goals aside, he’s hardworking and has cultivated a vote from the new Irish – Africans in Doughiska in particular – that position him as a future poll-topper. 7/10

 

Michael J Crowe (FF)

At that Bob Geldof “I don’t give two flying f*cks what you think of me” stage of life, he has assumed the role of godfather of the Council. The gimp of a man that has nothing to lose, he can attract controversy. Droll and – recently – measured in debates, he’s fed up of management’s cavalier attitude to councillors. 7/10

 

 

Owen Hanley (Soc Dem)

A work in progress. Gullible, he swallows City Hall’s propaganda without critically analysing issues – a byproduct of the rush to be ‘first’ to tweet Council “news”.

An isolated figure cut adrift from the ruling pact, he has grown in confidence during contributions to debates. Could nudge Niall Ó Tuathail off the Dáil ticket in Galway West. 7/10

 

Noel Larkin (Ind)

Quiet since opting out of the position of mayor in 2020, after a campaign to block him getting the chain caused controversy.

Unashamedly pro-business, he’s unafraid to speak out about issues like anti-social behaviour. Strikes a chord with a sizeable portion of the electorate by punching down. The mayoral debacle proved outspokenness can boomerang. 7/10

 

Declan McDonnell (Ind)

Will he run again? The most popular candidate out east in 2019, he may have reassessed his priorities during Covid-19 and after losing his grip on the ruling pact.

A big interest in planning, he’ll enjoy the nitty gritty of compiling a new Development Plan. Refunding a relatively small amount of expenses to the Council, after a Prime Time investigation found he over-claimed, doesn’t appear to have damaged him. 7/10

 

Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) 

Another who might call it a day after this term, she’s taking heavy hits from rivals – especially Alan Cheevers – who are eyeing up the Polltopper’s wheelbarrow of first preferences. Like most of the experienced crew, she was not suited to, and struggled with, online Council meetings on Zoom but still delivered ‘on the ground’. 7/10

 

 

GALWAY CITY CENTRAL 

Imelda Byrne (FF)

A leading light in equality education, she needs to bring the enthusiasm and competency of the day job as Access Officer of NUIG to her Council role.

Showed naivety with a motion calling for park-ranger community wardens; a well-intentioned but poorly worded idea. With more confidence and experience, she has potential. 7/10

 

Colette Connolly (Ind) 

With Catherine Connolly and Pádraig Conneely gone, she’s taken on role of chief contrarian. A surprisingly competent chair of Council meetings, so far, just months into her term as mayor.

Her strengths – tenacious, questioning, rebellious, and highly sceptical of Council management – are also her main weakness: she annoys colleagues with outbursts that can alienate her. 7/10

 

Mike Cubbard (Ind)

Like many younger councillors, he’s obsessed with his social media image. Went overboard on Facebook posts, in particular, during his two (successful) terms as mayor but has calmed down since without compromising constituency work.

From a Council estate, he ably represents the voice of the marginalised in areas of the ward abandoned by others. Needs a thicker skin. 7/10

 

Frank Fahy (FG)

Has more regard for working class than your average Fine Gaeler and is ‘Left’ on most issues compared with other Blueshirts, bar law and order when he returns to type – right-of-centre, hard-line.

Occasionally highlights unusual stories – dealers using jet-skis on the Corrib to deliver drugs to Galway was one – that attract sensational headlines and ‘Are you for real?’ reactions. 7/10

 

Eddie Hoare (FG)

Anyone expecting outspokenness like Pádraig Conneely will be disappointed. Brings optimism and positivity that was anathema to his predecessor and, as an accountant, has a decent grasp of figures which will come in handy at Budget time. Too obsessed with social media, he could do with less cheerleading, and more questioning, of officials. 7/10

 

 

Martina O’Connor (Greens)

More to her than meets the eye. Could struggle to keep calm in the Chamber when chairing meetings as Deputy Mayor. But she is an engaged councillor who pushes the green agenda and fights for women in politics, regardless of party. Inexperienced and naive when it comes to taking officials at face value.  7/10

 

 

GALWAY CITY WEST 

John Connolly (FF)

A fine example of how resilience rewards. Unseated in 2009, he didn’t make a Dáil breakthrough in 2016, but persevered and has shown hunger for the political fray since returning in 2019. One of the few elected Gaeligeoirí, he’s relishing being back on the Council questioning the executive and barking at rivals. Too sensitive.  7/10

 

 

Clodagh Higgins (FG)

A bundle of energy and enthusiasm, she appears to enjoy the job. There’s a needle between her and party colleague Eddie Hoare, suggesting both have ambitions beyond local politics.

Sloppy wording of a tweet about disability drew the misogynist wrath of keyboard warriors; and her handling of plans for a cycle-lane on Salthill Prom proved the folly of trying to be all things to all people. 7/10  

 

Peter Keane (FF)

Not as prominent at meetings as he was prior to the pandemic, is overshadowed by more ambitious colleagues, and has given up on plans to progress to national politics.

Another one the Zoom meetings didn’t suit, the solicitor remains an asset to the largest party on the Council but is it making use of his obvious talents?  7/10  

 

Donal Lyons (Ind) 

Long live the King! Retired from An Post earlier this year, he’s adamant he’s not slowing down politically. Was frustrated by Zoom meetings, and hasn’t made the impact of previous terms. Will reign supreme in Knocknacarra for as long as he likes.  7/10

 

 

Niall McNelis (Lab)

Dubbed ‘Harry Three Pacts’ by colleagues who have disdain – and a sneaky regard – for his manoeuvring to secure a place in the ruling rainbow, he’s well able to go.

Enthusiastic and energetic, he does Trojan voluntary work wearing different hats. Needs to take off the maroon-tinted glasses, though, and realise his loyalty is to the public, not unelected officials. 7/10

 

Niall Murphy (Greens) 

He’s no Pauline O’Reilly – his predecessor – but has the potential to be a decent councillor. The one thing standing in his way of becoming a decent councillor is that he thinks he is one already. A little less ‘I know best’, and a little more listening and learning is needed. 7/10 

 

 

Read Bradley Bytes in the Galway City Tribune every week. You can subscribe online

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CITY TRIBUNE

If O’Brien is the answer then FF should ask another question

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Micheál Martin watch out! Dev Óg confirmed to TG4 last week that he wouldn't be leaving Fianna Fáil, despite his issues with the party and hinted he might stand for election again.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

When you consider that Darragh O’Brien is one of the main contenders to replace Micheál Martin as leader of Fianna Fáil, you sort of grasp just how deep in do-do the party finds itself.

The Soldiers of Destiny aren’t exactly laden down with talent but if O’Brien is the answer then really they need to ask a different question.

As the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party meets in Cavan ahead of the new Dáil term, it’s easy to see why disgruntled TDs and Senators haven’t yet deposed Martin – there’s no alternative.

O’Brien is Housing Minister and seems like a sound, harmless enough old skin. But he’s no leader-in-waiting, if last week is a barometer.

Fianna Fáil was once the party that built houses. It asked for the housing portfolio in Coalition negotiations with Fine Gael and the Greens. Housing is the hill it is willing to die on. Solve the housing crisis and the electorate will reward Fianna Fáil, is their hope.

Wouldn’t you think, then, that after announcing what we’re told is the most comprehensive housing policy in the State’s history, O’Brien would have the courage of his convictions to actually debate and defend it against Opposition attack on national television?

But no. Instead of going head-to-head with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin, O’Brien opted for one-to-one interviews firstly with Miriam O’Callaghan – who incidentally is a brother of the other leadership contender, Jim O’Callaghan – on Prime Time; and then with Claire Brock, on Tonight. On both programmes, Ó Broin was interviewed after O’Brien left the studio.

RTÉ and Virgin Media should have refused to give O’Brien airtime if he was unwilling to debate, but media cowardice aside, can you imagine previous leaders like Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern or Brian Cowen shying away from a scrap with their opposite?

It’s another reason why O’Brien will not be leader, regardless of the desire for a Dublin TD to take over.

Meanwhile, one Dubliner who knows more than most that Fianna Fail is in trouble is Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív.

On Comhrá on TG4 last week, Dev Óg showed his human side in a soft-focus, and interesting, one-on-one interview.

He confirmed he would not leave FF, despite his issues with the direction the party took and its leadership. And although he conceded it was a ‘long way off yet’, Ó Cuív hinted to Máirtín Tom Sheáinín that he would contest the next general election. He’s hardly eyeing up Martin’s job?
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

We’re turning the ‘Capital of Culture’ into a dirty kip

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One of the hard-working Council staff cleaning up after revellers. Clearing the streets of rubbish costs money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

The recently retired, but not so retiring, City Arts Officer, James C Harrold claimed on social media this Summer that Galway City Council, “currently spends more on street cleaning and litter-picking than it invests in the arts”.

For a city that’s renowned for its annual Arts Festival, street theatre spectacles, arts and cultural heritage and organisations, and the energy and innovation of its artists, musicians and so on, that’s a fairly miserable and shameful spectre.

Though no figures were given by the ex-City Council employee, it surely is a sorry state of affairs that the self-styled City of the Arts, and the European Capital of Culture 2020, spends so little of its funding on a sector that supposedly sustains its reputation.

Or maybe it’s a reflection of the filthy animals we have become during the outdoor summer while ‘living with Covid’?

As in, it’s possible that City Council does invest heavily in the arts but so dirty have we become as a society – so little ‘meas’ do the visitors and residents of our city have for this place – that the weekly clean-up operation is costing tens of thousands of euros that could otherwise be invested in the arts, and artists, or indeed other important areas such as sports clubs or playgrounds or infrastructure.

The outdoor staff and street cleaners are among the best and most dedicated at City Hall – and it is only right that they are adequately funded to allow them to continue to do their jobs to the best of their ability. But where’s the personal responsibility in all of this; why are we so selfish to think that others – be they Council workers or Tidy Towns’ volunteers – should go around picking up our shite?

Recently this column highlighted the stench of urine on our city’s streets and suggested City Hall employ power hoses as a temporary solution. Thankfully, a good dash of rain washed away the smell . . . but downpours cannot mask our own behaviour since lockdown restrictions were eased, behaviour that contributes to the littering of beauty spots throughout Galway, the new dirty old town.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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