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We’re all angry, but can we agree to pay student nurses?



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Everyone is impacted by the country’s move to Level 5. And everyone is angry at Lockdown 2.

The GAA. Publicans. The hospitality and entertainment sector. Airlines. Theatres. Cinemas. Hairdressers. Gym users. Gym owners. Non-essential retail. Brides-to-be. Grooms-to-be. Funeral-home directors. Mass goers. House party-goers. Off-licences. Cancer patients. Patients on hospital waiting-lists. Pensioners. Landlords. Students. Renters. Young people. Older people. Middle-aged people. Women. Men. Children.

All constrained. All complaining. All angry. And they all have valid reasons to be.

Heck, even sectors of society that are open aren’t happy.

Teachers. Builders. Bus drivers. Gardaí. Supermarket workers. An Post staff. Meat factory workers. Some elite senior inter-county GAA players.

They’re all wondering are they safe. Those still in jobs are overworked. Those without them, and who lost jobs this week, fret about Christmas costs, mortgage repayments and keeping the wolf from their door.

Whether you supporter tighter lockdown restrictions or not, nobody wants them. It’s true that most people will answer ‘yes’ when asked by pollsters if they agree that Level 5 restrictions were necessary.

But nobody actually wants curbs on their freedoms. Everyone is aggrieved by the protective measures. Some are more aggrieved than others, and some are more inconvenienced by them than others. One boozer’s Dry November is another nail in the coffin of someone’s boozer, and livelihood.

What everyone wants is to go back to normal. Or something resembling normal. And if Level 5 for six weeks is what it takes, then most will suck it up. Reluctantly. Because we’re told it will save lives.

It’s difficult to create a hierarchy of the most put-upon. Are those living in Direct Provision worse off than mostly-foreign workers in meat factories? The GAA can have a senior inter-county championship, but safe gyms can’t open. Sporty children can train in pods of 15 outdoors but kids with other interests can’t go the library, or Irish dancing, or speech and drama.

Another lockdown is sh*t. Those bar staff or publicans who have, perhaps, pulled their last pint know it. The minor or U20 inter-county hurlers and footballers, whose season has been postponed, indefinitely, know it. The teachers living in fear that the 30 children in their class could infect them know it.

We all know it. But do you know who really knows it? Student nurses.

Student nurses and midwives on placements in our hospitals get either nothing or a €50 allowance per week. They are effectively asked to do the same job as staff nurses, without reward but with similar Covid-19 risks.

They can’t supplement their income while on placement by working in nursing homes, because of the risk of cross-infection. In Lockdown 1, we paid them healthcare assistant salaries. It didn’t break the bank. We should do it again. Immediately. Channel your anger at that exploitation, not at each other.
(Photo shows a nurses’ strike outside UHG last year)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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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Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events



From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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