A packed public meeting organised by Cumann Forbartha Chois Fharraige last Monday night was addressed by seven of the candidates who are contesting the Galway West-South Mayo constituency in next week’s General Election.
All the candidates bar one were invited to attend the meeting; because of his last minute nomination, Patrick Feeney was not issued with an invitation.
The seven who turned up to face questions from the audience were Éamon Ó Cuív T.D. (FF), Séamas Sheridan (GP), Niall Ó Tuathail (SD), Ruairí Ó Néill (DDI), Catherine Connolly (Ind), Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) and Seán Kyne T.D. (FG).
Noel Grealish (Ind) and John O’ Mahoney (FG) had sent written apologies for not being in attendance.
Derek Nolan (Lab) and John Connolly (FF) had indicated they would be in attendance but pulled out at the last minute.
The meeting, which was chaired by Gormfhlaith Ní Thuairisg of Raidió na Gaeltachta, was heated at times as two people present tried to raise personal issues with the candidates but were ruled out of order and were asked to talk to the candidates after the meeting, which one of them did. The other walked out.
The meeting was conducted through Irish, Séamus Sheridan of the Greens being the only candidate whose command of Irish wasn’t up to it.
Sitting beside him, Éamon Ó Cuív provided him with translation of questions when needed.
The issues raised from the floor ranged from the local to the international.
The first question was about the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) being negotiated in secret at the moment, which could have major implications for countries attempting to protect local indigenous industries.
The freezing of a lot of Cois Fharraige from any house building, due to seven routes for a possible new road from Galway to Ros a’ Mhíl.
A questioner who wanted to get rid of An Bord Pleanála got no support for his proposition. The petition of the Aran Island communities were listed. Éamon Ó Cuív was the only one able to say that they were incorporated into his party’s manifesto.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.