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Is Mike about to be sprung from Fianna Fáil Cubbard?



We're putting the band back together: Labour's brothers-in-arms, Derek, Billy, Michael D, and Niall.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

With local elections due in 2019, political parties are readying their candidates. Back in 2014, it seemed that some big personalities on the current City Council were unlikely to run again.

However, more than midway through the term, veterans like Billy Cameron (Labour) and Pádraig Conneely (FG) are showing no signs of slowing down.

Others who have been quiet since getting elected, are beginning to find their voice again, too.

Of course, the prospect of getting a kick up the backside from the electorate tends to refocus the minds of stagnant politicians.

Then there’s the newbie wannabes – the likes of Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats – who are working away on the ground trying to build a profile and find issues that resonate with potential voters.

Smiler Nialler, for instance, gained traction on his opposition to the Blackrock diving tower revamp.

Independents are also making up their minds about whether they’ll run for office. The Usual Suspects like Tommy Roddy and Mike Geraghty will probably go again for the craic; and that cycling lad, Simon Comer, might be tempted to stick his name on the ballot paper.

Some things will stay the same: Polltopper Terry O’Flaherty will top the poll again in Galway City East. So, too, will Donal Lyons in Galway City West.

What of the Galway City Central man who surprised all and outpolled everyone last time out?

Mike Cubbard, the city’s current deputy mayor, ran as an Independent and even had ‘celebrity endorsement’ of MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

Cubbard will certainly run again – his social media profile shows he’s already campaigning – but what flag will he be flying?

Mike was spotted chatting in a dark corner of Dáil Éireann midweek with one Soldier of Destiny – City Councillor Ollie Crowe – which sent the rumour mill into overdrive that he was about to be unveiled as his running mate as a Fianna Fáil local election candidate. They’d be well matched.

Labour love-in

Together again . . . just as Take That, Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block made a comeback, some members of the Labour Party’s former boyband in Galway West – The Nolan Sisters? – were cock-a-hoop at having organised a reunion up in the Big Schmoke recently.

Lead singer and star attraction – Michael D Higgins – was host, and as always, stole the show from the backing vocalists, his successor Derek Nolan the former TD; elder statesman of the party in Galway City, Councillor Billy Cameron; and the wannabe-superstar, Councillor Niall McNelis, who is eyeing a run at Dáil Éireann.

The band Dancing on the Cars provided the entertainment at Michael D’s garden fete last week, one of seven outdoor parties he throws annually at Áras and Uachtaráin.

As well as the three Labour Party apparatchiks, there was a large Galway contingent in the Park, many of whom were community activists, and some who would have campaigned for him in past elections.

Michael D has yet to declare his intention to seek a second term as President, when his current reign ends in 2018, but no harm to keep the canvassing troops onside should the other parties decide not to allow him a free-run back, and instead opt for an election.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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