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Labour feels the heat – and the pressure will only increase on their backbenchers

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Date Published: {J}

And then there were four … the government with the biggest majority of all time has watched in recent weeks as the first trickles of defection began, and this week it faced its biggest test with the most difficult budget in the history of the State being divided into a two-day marathon.

The huge spending cuts and the tax increases have put major pressure on both Fine Gael and their Labour allies, but you have to bring it down to individual difficult constituencies like Galway West and Galway East to realise the kind of pressures the TDs find themselves under right now and which resulted in four Deputies – the latest, Patrick Nulty, who was only a wet week in the Dail – so far dropping the whip.

In Galway West for instance, the second Fine Gael seat is held by Sean Kyne, who is now the holder of what is officially the most marginal Dáil seat in the country. He has to look over his shoulder at both Independents and Sinn Fein, and may even have to keep an eye on a party colleague.

One of the greatest threats to surface in the constituency is Independent Catherine Connolly who got 4,766 first preferences, but lasted to the 13th count where she wound up with 9,095 votes in the race for the last seat, with Kyne coming in at 9,112. Meanwhile we all might keep a ‘weathered eye’ on his party running mate Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames who went out on the twelfth count with 7,020 votes, where gain the running was desperately tight between Healy-Eames, Kyne and the other successfully elected candidate, Brian Walsh TD.

Out in Connemara both Sean Kyne and Fianna Fáil front-runner Eamon Ó Cúiv will be very wary of the ambitions of Sinn Fein’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh after he scored 3,808 first preferences and got to 4,683 before going out on the tenth count. Ó Clochartaigh was a long way from being in the hunt but Sinn Féin is very much in the growth business and their cries of “burn the bondholders”, thus making the budget easier, may find resonance among the voters that could yet spell trouble in Galway West.

Enough has been written about the “hard luck” of independent Councillor Catherine Connolly in West Galway and suffice to say that both Labour, in the shape of Derek Nolan TD, and Fine Gael, in the shape of Sean Kyne or Brian Walsh, could face a threat from her.

The recent Red C Opinion Poll showed a national two per cent drop for the Labour party and such a fall off would be of concern to even a strong runner such as Derek Nolan, although the real threat could be in the background to someone like Sean Kyne as both Catherine Connolly and Sean Kyne take a hunk of their support from the same Connemara Electoral areas.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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