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Bradley Bytes

Vote of sympathy as CoR says au revoir to Declan

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Declan McDonnell has little to cheer about after he was informed he is not being reappointed to the European Committee of the Regions.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

There was a mini earthquake around Mervue last Friday week – and it wasn’t weather related. The earth moved, we hear, after the bombshell was dropped that former Progressive Democrats, now Independent city councillor, Declan McDonnell, was not going to be reappointed to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).

As plum jobs go at local authority level, the Committee of the Regions is as good as it gets. It’s the crème de la crème of appointments for councillors.

It involves plenty of foreign travel to Brussels and Luxembourg where elected representatives are wined and dined and given a taste of what it’d be like to be a real politician, like an MEP or better still, a European Commissioner.

It’s a lucrative enough gig, too, according to those in the know, and the pocket money you get for being on the Committee of the Regions is a decent supplement to a councillor’s income.

No wonder wailing was heard round Mervue, when some poor civil servant from the relevant Government department had to break it gently to Declan that he was no longer on the committee.

In fairness, he had a good innings on it – around 12 years, apparently – and it’s certainly not a gig for life.

After hearing the news on the Friday, Declan didn’t attend the following Monday’s City Council meeting. Apparently he was sick.

Whether the sickness was precipitated by his shock demotion from the committee would amount to mere conjecture and we couldn’t possibly comment.

But that didn’t stop his colleagues on the Council from marking his European demise. Fianna Fáil’s Ollie Crowe, the sympathetic soul that he is, even proposed a vote of sympathy for Declan for losing out on the role. Independent Terry ‘Polltopper’ O’Flaherty was goaded into seconding the motion but politely declined.

Another suggested they do a ‘whip round’ for him, to compensate for any potential loss of income.

With friends like that . . .

Mairéad the bog hopping city slicker

Mairéad Farrell is a city slicker.

She lives in the city. She went to school and university in the city. She works in the city. But there’s a bit of a country bumpkin in her too.

One of Sinn Féin’s three new councillors elected to Galway City Council, Mairéad is getting used to the rough and tumble of local politics.

She’s becoming accustomed to the political bun fights in the Council chamber and political dog-fights outside it.

And she’s also a prominent figure in the county’s bog wars.

She doesn’t appear to be a ‘bogger’, but Mairéad, we’re reliably told, regularly attends protests in solidarity of turf-cutters.

She’s been spotted on bogs all around Galway including those owned by members of the Clonmoylan, Barroughter and Ardraigue Bog Action Group, who are defying the ban on turf-cutting on bogs designated as SACs (Special Areas of Conservation).

She even gave a speech recently at a turf-cutters celebration rally in Treacy’s of Killimor where the crowd vowed to continue to flout the ban on cutting turf in 2015.

There’re no votes round Killimor for her but it does her no harm either.

By aligning herself with the bog warriors, it plays well with the anti-Europe, anti-Government, anti-establishment, anti-everything vibe that Mairéad tapped into to get elected.

Or maybe it’s just that she likes using turf as fuel for her stove in her Mervue home.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

There is no vaccine for Hitler hyperbole!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway County Councillor Noel Thomas lashed out at journalist Sinéad Ryan, when he claimed on Twitter that “Hitler would have loved you, Sinéad”.

The Fianna Fáil elected representative then deleted the tweet, which was “written in anger” and apologised “to anyone who may have been offended” by it.

But not before Ryan had taken a screenshot and re-tweeted it to her 22,000+ followers. She also reported the offending tweet to the social media giant and complained to FF HQ.

Noel Thomas didn’t back down, though. In another tweet, he said: “Just to let you know Sinéad I have also reported your tweet to Twitter. It is dangerous and very unhelpful to society to be making comments like you did.”

What was it that made the usually mild-mannered Moycullener see red, and spout Hitler hyperbole during a fit of rage? An opinion about Covid-19 vaccinations, of course!

Ryan said that after October 22, unvaccinated people, “shouldn’t be permitted into restaurants, pubs or indoor venues. If they won’t protect themselves, the rest of us must do it by dissociation”.

Whether the leader of the Third Reich would have approved of this sentiment is unclear. But Thomas’s party leader, Micheál Martin, clearly does – it’s now Government policy to continue with vaccination certificates for indoor hospitality for the foreseeable future.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Thomas took to Twitter to tell journalist Sinéad Ryan that Hitler would have loved her. It was after her comments that unvaccinated people shouldn’t be allowed into public spaces indoors).

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

Galway 2020 defenders’ mortifying muscle memory 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It’s amazing how quickly people try to re-write history. If Galway 2020 happened, say, 20 years ago, you could maybe blame fading memory to make allowances for the maroon-tinted glasses of those who defend it to the hilt.

But Galway’s term as European Capital of Culture concluded not 20 weeks ago, and the ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ brigade are out in force with propaganda that would make Donald Trump blush.

The defenders of Galway 2020 usually fall into two categories. There are people who work or worked for the organisation directly or indirectly and/or who contributed to winning the prestigious designation. And there are those who are deluded. Some fall into both categories – deluded and with a vested interest in Galway 2020’s reputation.

It matters not that the latest criticism of the ill-fated – and extremely expensive – project was contained in an official Government report, compiled by an office with impeccable credibility, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Be it bar-stool commentary or analysis of the CA&G, the reaction to criticism is always the same. The defenders metaphorically stick index fingers in both ears, close their eyes and chant: “Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah”. This would be fine if it wasn’t the taxpayer who’s had to pick up the tab.

It’s like the defenders of Galway 2020 have an inbuilt muscle memory. They’ve spent so long defending Galway 2020 that, no matter what the new charge is, their memory system automatically kicks in.

And while the muscle memory that instinctively compels them to defend is, through repetitive use, as sharp as ever, their actual memories are mortifyingly short. Or maybe they’ve selective memory. Or both.

The few – and they’re getting fewer – who defend Galway 2020 often spout the narrative that but for the Covid-19 pandemic it would’ve been brilliant.

And to a casual observer, someone who never heard of Galway 2020 and its litany of problems from day one, maybe that explanation seems plausible. But the argument does not hold water.

The C&AG last week highlighted how Galway 2020 had planned to raise €6.8 million from the private sector. This figure was used in the bid book to persuade judges to give Galway the designation.

In the end, it managed to raise just €400,000 in cash, plus €500,000 in “in-kind” support.

Defenders’ muscle memory kicked in and they said, “Ah, but the pandemic, how could you raise money during Covid?”.

This deliberately ignores Galway 2020’s own bid book, which promised to raise €4 million from the private sector pre-Covid in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It didn’t materialise, which shows the projected income from businesses was overinflated, or the private sector had reservations about supporting this project long before Covid.

This is just one implied criticism in the C&AG report, which doesn’t even mention the non-appointment of a Business Engagement Director, whose job – if the appointment had proceeded – would’ve been to tap the private sector for money.

Maybe the defenders should read the C&AG report. It might help to de-programme their mortifying muscle memory.

(Photo: The scene at South Park at the same time as the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony).

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

Colette’s cycling ‘cabal’ puts ruling pact in peril 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Danger here! Galway City councillors, not a month back from summer recess, and already the ruling pact is in peril of falling apart. Or as one wag put it, “it’s in tatters – again!”

Unsurprisingly, plans for a temporary cycle-lane along the Salthill Prom are causing friction.

Or, rather, the decision by the ruling pact – or some members of the ruling pact – to opt not to have a debate about those plans at last Monday week’s Council meeting has caused ructions. The fall-out continues.

Having read the previous Friday’s Galway City Tribune, where journalist Denise McNamara had elicited all 18 Councillors’ views on how they intended to vote on the cycleway motion, Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly (Ind) called a Zoom meeting of councillors. Not all of them though, just a select few.

It took place prior to the official City Council meeting, but excluded two councillors in the pact – Independents Terry O’Flaherty and Donal Lyons – who had indicated to the Tribune that they would be voting against the Mayor’s motion.

Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) had splinters lodged in his backside from sitting on the fence when he told the Tribune that he would be abstaining in the vote; he too did not receive an invite to Colette’s cosy cabal.

As it transpired, Terry and Niall voted for the Mayor’s motion, and Donal stuck to his guns and voted against.

What has irked them, though, is they were not invited to the Mayor’s unofficial pact meeting by virtue of the views they had expressed in this newspaper days before the vote.

Former Mayor Mike Cubbard couldn’t make Colette’s cabal but it’s understood the others – Fine Gaelers and Greens – were there. The excluded trio felt that it was decided by the ‘pact within a pact’ to vote for the Mayor’s motion without debate. Not very democratic.

To make matters worse, at least two councillors who are not in the pact – including one from Fianna Fáil – was invited, while the trio who voted for Collette to become Mayor were excluded.

The King of Knocknacarra, Lyons, is miffed and has threatened to walk from the pact. McNelis, who had to hold his nose when backing the former Labour councillor to become First Citizen, confirmed he was considering his position, too.

“I’m deeply, deeply disappointed and I’ll be seriously considering my position with the pact. For a Mayor that preaches to the rest of us about transparency, and about how to run meetings, to turn around and exclude me and others from a meeting; to exclude people who supported her is deeply, deeply disappointing,” McNelis told us.

A bit rich from someone whose loyalty is best summed up by the nickname his colleagues gave him, ‘Three Pacts’. But he has a point. And with Donal nearly overboard, Owen Hanley outside the circle and Niall contemplating his position, the pact is in peril – again!

(Photo: Labour Cllr Níall McNelis who is “deeply, deeply” disappointed’ at being excluded from a meeting organised by Mayor Colette Connolly on the Salthill cycleway debate, says he’ll be “seriously considering” his position in the Council’s ruling pact)

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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