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Conchita and firenados made for an unusual weather week

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Firenado

Country Living with Francis Farragher

We do love to moan about the weather and we always convince ourselves that we have a good case. It’s either too wet, too cold, too frosty, too windy or too foggy but my old friend, the late Frank Gaffney (an absolute treasure of weather information and data) used often remind me that really here in Ireland we ‘didn’t even know’ what extremes of weather were. And how right he was.

Over the course of May, which in general terms has been a pretty cool, dull and wettish month, we were inclined to feel a bit sorry for ourselves but really we had only very minor troubles as compared to the calamitous rainfall that descended on the Balkans or Yugoslavia as we used to call it in the days of communism.

During the course of three days in mid-May, they received as much rainfall in this region as they would normally get in three months, as an area of low pressure got locked over the Balkans, essentially being ring-fenced in by blocking areas of high pressure.

Here in Ireland we all love to hear of what are known as ‘blocking highs’, essentially huge blobs of stable dry air than can lodge over an area for days and sometimes weeks at a time. If we get one of those centred over us during July and August, it delivers the treat of a summer heatwave, but at times they can result in an area of low pressure ‘staying put’ over a land mass.

In our case, the usual example of this would be an area of high pressure with its fringe lying along the western coast of the UK and preventing the natural movement of low pressure systems from west to east. If the low pressure cannot go anywhere, then it drops its load in the one place. In the case of the Balkans weather disaster, the low was also being constantly refuelled with rain filled swirls from the Mediterranean, so it really was a case of  all the elements being in place for the perfect storm.

Sometimes though out of incredible adversity good can come, and apparently there were various examples of support and camaraderie between Balkan states that 20 years previously had been trying to wipe each other out in a savage war. However, as the Tayto ad goes, ‘there’s always one’ and according to the Guardian newspaper last week, the Serbian Orthodox Church decided not to miss the opportunity of the flood disaster to launch an unholy attack on the lesbian and gay communities.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

The fine art of good timing when it comes to elections

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Charlie Haughey...snap election backfired on him.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Academically, politics is described as a science. But in the real world, it’s more of an art – and one of the big decisions a Government has to make is to decide when to call an election.

Will they see out the full term, or will they go early – either to mitigate the damage they will ship, or to secure a victory before things go awry, or the economy takes a dip, or some kind of controversy erupts?

Timing is everything.

And there’s a bit of art to that – not to mention a lot of luck. If you call it early and win big, you’re a genius. If you call it early and lose, you are the political version of the village fool.

Charlie Haughey was a poor judge of the public mood. Twice he called snap elections and on both occasions they backfired. Haughey succeeded Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in late 1979 and did not – technically – have his own mandate. He tried to remedy that by calling an election in 1981. But it recoiled. Ray MacSharry warned him not to hold it during the H Block hunger strikes when republican prisoners were dying each day. He did not listen to the advice and found himself out of office.

After his return to power in 1987, Haughey tired of presiding over a minority government that kept on losing votes in the Oireachtas (the opposition won nine private members motions).

So he called a snap general election and it backfired. Fianna Fáil lost seats and had to broker a coalition deal with the Progressive Democrats and his long-standing political adversary Dessie O’Malley.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

If you don’t know who you are, the door staff have no chance

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The only time in your life that you should ever utter the words: “Do you know who I am?” are if you’ve just had a bang on the head or you are unfortunately suffering from dementia.

Because, otherwise, the phrase ‘do you know who I am’ only serves to make things a whole lot worse.

Normally, the phrase is unleashed towards late night door staff on a wave of alcohol – and never once in the history of time has it produced the result the utterer had intended.

The doorman may well know who you are which is often the very reason you’re not getting into the place in the first instance – or if he doesn’t know who you are, he won’t be unduly influenced when he does, unless you’re a famous movie star or his long-lost cousin.

‘Do you know where I am?’ might often be closer to the phrase you’re looking for, because that would serve you well when you’re looking for a taxi.

‘Do you know who I am?’ is a threatening phrase that in truth wouldn’t frighten the cat. But if you’re anxious to dig the hole a few shovels deeper, you should follow up with ‘I’d like to speak to your manager.’

Managers can be elusive at the best of times, but they’re normally rarer than hen’s teeth when it comes to the small hours of the morning – and even if they’re there, they are most likely watching proceedings on CCTV…just so they know who you are, in case you yourself can’t remember.

‘I’d like to speak to your manager’ suggests that you and he or she are from the one social sphere which is several strata north of the one occupied by door staff.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City councillors see red over Green senator’s tweet  

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly’s ears must have been burning last week.

City councillors didn’t mention her by name, but it was clear who they referred to. And they didn’t spare her.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) attacked her as a “one-term senator”; a slur he withdrew after Mayor Clodagh Higgins (FG) rebuked him.

There was “no need for that”, she snapped. But Classy Clodagh was not happy with Pauline either.

Declan fumed that a certain Green Party senator had gone on national radio and social media, misrepresenting what councillors had agreed at the previous meeting.

“It’s a disgrace,” he squealed. The unnamed senator (Pauline O’Reilly) hadn’t been at the previous meeting and had interpreted their vote arse-ways, was the gist of his rant.

Classy Clodagh agreed. “We all know what we agreed but the public needs to know; Twitter doesn’t know, Twitter needs to know,” she thundered.

There was more righteous indignation from Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF). The Chief Executive, Brendan McGrat,h needed to unleash the might of City Hall’s Press Office and issue a statement. Set the record straight.

He moaned about “misinformation” and “false information” spouted on the Wild West of social media, Twitter.

Pauline, as is her wont, clearly got under the skin of councillors when she criticised them last month.

On April 18, she tweeted: “The end of the Renmore Ballyloughane cycle lane happened last night. It beggar’s belief that another cycle lane in Galway has been voted down by all but two councillors. It is claimed that it would ‘block off access’. What this really means is that it would reduce car parking.”

This referred to a motion at the April meeting, tabled by Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, seconded by Cllr MJ Crowe.

The motion that was passed, read: “We propose that Galway City Council reject the proposals set out in the Ballyloughane Road/Renmore Avenue Active Travel Scheme in its present format.”

It passed by 14-2, with one abstention. Both Green councillors, Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy, opposed it.

Councillors at the latest meeting complained the vote was misrepresented. They were angered by Pauline’s tweet and the national media coverage it had garnered her on RTÉ Radio One.

Councillors argued that the phrase “in its current format” meant it was not “the end” of the scheme, as she’d claimed on social media. Instead, the Council executive could come back with more palatable proposals.

Brendan McGrath concurred. He “didn’t see the need” to issue a statement to articulate the decision they made. It was “wrong”, he said, if that decision had not been communicated or interpreted correctly. But it was “abundantly clear” to management what councillors had decided.

Meanwhile, Pauline’s ‘offending’ tweet remains up.

(Photo: Pauline O’Reilly at the Mayoral Ball with Green councillors, Niall Murphy and Martina O’Connor).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 19 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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