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Fine Gael AGM to test just how loud the roar is of their Cannon in Galway



Date Published: {J}

We are coming to the time of year when the political parties hold their Annual General Meetings at all levels – the Fianna Fáil Cumainn get together to choose their officers and delegates in contest which can be fierce locally as people jockey for position.

In Fine Gael, where the contests are just as fierce, they will have the additional feature of watching just how a new Fine Gael TD and Minister of State, Ciaran Cannon, fares out in his bid to get to the heart of Fine Gael.

At the party convention prior to the General Election, Cannon was one of those chasing a nomination and went to a convention with hundreds of delegates where he was roundly beaten into last place with only 20 votes – a mere fistful compared to the likes of Paul Connaughton Jnr, Michael Mullins, Jimmy McClearn and Tom McHugh.

With only 20 votes out of the huge electorate it looked like ‘political curtains’ for the attempt by Cannon who was resented by some ‘true blues’ in Fine Gael as a possible ‘parachute’ candidate being encouraged by the likes of Enda Kenny, Phil Hogan and Frank Flannery.

Cannon, after all, had been a strong contender for the Progressive Democrats at the previous General Election with over 3,000 votes, he was also leader of the PDs at one stage and was the man left in charge of the final winding up of the Progressive Democrats when Noel Grealish went Independent and left Cannon – then a senator – as one of the PDs still surviving.

Some in Fine Gael baulked at the arrival of Cannon and showed it at the convention where Cannon was dismissed with a mere 20 votes from the hundreds of delegates. But they reckoned without the intervention of Kenny, who was entitled to ‘add’ to the ticket and did so deeply annoying the supporters of then Councillor Michael Mullins from Ballinasloe, who went on to advance his political career later by winning a seat in the Seanad.

Cannon during the campaign enlisted the support of no less a person than former Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton, who canvassed openly for him, and Cannon also got vital local support in areas such as Ballinasloe from Dr John Barton the cardiologist who has been a high profile figure in the battle to ensure the future of Portiuncula Hospital, in Ballinasloe.

When it came to election time, Cannon brought off one of the political surprises of the entire campaign when he won a seat in a constituency which was now considerably more difficult because of a strong Labour party performance by Colm Keaveney, who surprised many by winning a seat.

The political line up in Galway East had changed almost beyond recognition with the only outgoing TD who stood for election, Micheal Kitt, holding onto his seat and three newcomers – Connaughton and Cannon (FG), and Keaveney (Lab).

It was a tremendous result for Fine Gael but it left a hangover among some about Cannon while Cannon himself began the business of working his organisation into mainstream Fine Gael. Remember, this was the man rejected by convention as a ‘parachute candidate’ and now not alone elected a TD but also appointed a Minister of State in the Education and Training area.

This post meant that Cannon is also a member of the Economic Development Body within Government which meets on key areas and is chaired by the Taoiseach and involves Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and is regarded as an extremely important grouping within Government planning.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune,

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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