Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley
Around 20 Travellers decamped to City Hall on Monday to register a protest about housing for their community, or rather the lack of it.
Led by the impressive Margaret O’Riada of Galway Traveller Movement, the group demanded “Traveller Homes Now”. Armed with placards, they were more vocal than usual.
Their backs were up, and with good reason. The previous week in the Galway City Tribune, Councillor Declan McDonnell, the Chairperson of the Council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee, said the city’s homeless figures were distorted by the inclusion of Travellers.
Some 50% of those registered as homeless in Galway City were classified as Travellers, which “doesn’t make sense” he said, particularly given that just 2.2% of the population of the city are Travellers.
“It’s not like 50 years ago when you had substantial numbers of Travellers living on the side of the road,” said McDonnell, while suggesting some people were ‘gaming the system’.
The message was clear: Travellers on the housing waiting list, and registering as homeless, are taking the place of non-Travellers.
Though he was playing to the prejudices of some of his voters, Travellers understandably were angry.
In calling for his resignation, Traveller representatives said he showed “disrespect” to their community, and they listed a litany of failures of the local authority to meet its housing commitments to Travellers.
That’s the background. But back to Monday, and the protest.
In anticipation of the arrival of the protesters, Galway City Council had two security guards at the entrance to City Hall, checking everyone’s reason for being there.
As luck would have it, and by complete coincidence, no doubt, the public gallery was cordoned off with ticker-tape, the likes of which you might find at a crime scene or building site, and several ‘wet paint’ signs. This was because a fresh coat of paint had been applied to the public seating area, mar dhea.
Councillors confided afterwards that there was neither sight nor smell of fresh paint in the room. Two Traveller representatives did make it into the Council chamber and were made to sit in the area usually reserved for reporters.
Of course, the timing of the ‘paint job’ had nothing to do with the previous time Travellers protested at City Hall, in June, when their behaviour was branded “unbecoming and unnecessary” by Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath after they stormed a meeting in protest at being evicted from a halting site.
*For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.
The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.