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Bradley Bytes

Public smells a rat over Declan’s Royal Tara motion



Royal Tara China at Mervue

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

The people of Galway may have been distracted by the Budget this week. But they haven’t lost their ability to smell a rat. And they know that something stinks about the sale of Royal Tara in Mervue.

On the eve of the giveaway Budget, a majority of Galway City Councillors voted to sell-off the lease to the historic building and lands in Mervue.

They made this decision Monday night without debate. Worse still, a majority of members present voted to block a proposal that would have facilitated debate. Democrats, my arse!

This, at the very least, fuels suspicions about their motives. Why, oh why, oh why would they sell off the city’s publicly-owned assets to private developers?

Especially when there was no appetite among the general public for this facility to be offloaded. In fact – a straw poll by local Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell showed the majority (89%) in Mervue wanted it kept in public ownership.

But only Mairéad and the two other Shinners on the Council opposed the sale, which was proposed by former PD, now Independent, Declan McDonnell.

Catherine Connolly (Ind) supported the Shinners’ proposal to debate but this was ignored by their colleagues who evidently don’t feel the need to explain themselves.

Nobody is suggesting any councillor who voted for to sell Royal Tara did anything untoward, or stands to gain personally from it. And certainly nobody is suggesting brown paper bags were exchanged.

But in politics, when you make a decision, the very least that you are expected to do is explain that decision in the chamber – especially when it is public money and assets.

If you have the conviction to stand over a decision, then at least have the backbone to debate it.

Instead, our elected community leaders ran for the hills. Pushed through the vote without debate. No explanation. No reasoning. No consideration of opposing views. Nothing.

As Shakespeare might put it: There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.

But sure, your elected representatives think you’ll be so distracted by the Budget, so punch drunk from the return of the fiver or tenner that they pilfered from your pockets during the economic crisis, that you won’t notice they sold it off, without debate.

And then they wonder why you’re so cynical.

Unsporting coalition partners

The grants for the Sports Capital Programme were released Friday, bang on time for the good news to ‘sink in’ ahead of the general election.

Some €2.3 million was given to 49 sports clubs in Galway. If you do the math, that’s a lot of votes.

Although, surprisingly enough, the clubs that weren’t successful were quite vocal about it online – the Government may lose as many votes as it wins through sports grants’ sweeteners.

Unsurprisingly, given that the Junior Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, is a Fine Gaeler, the local Blueshirts were first with the good news. In fact, Labour appears to have been completely taken aback by the announcement, and its people locally didn’t get to piggy-back on the good news.

What was more surprising is the Blueshirts who sent press releases about it; and those that didn’t.

Galway West TDs Sean Kyne and Brian Walsh, as well as Senator Hildegarde Naughton and Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon, all sent the usual PR stuff to media outlets “welcoming” the ‘dosh’.

But on Friday, there wasn’t a peep out of John O’Mahony, who is running in Galway West, or Paul Connaughton, in Galway East.

Were they left behind and kept out of the loop by the Ringer? Not a bit of it – the two boys were actually miles ahead of the others. We hear Small Paul and John O were leaked the names of the lucky clubs about to be granted funding hours before Walsh, Kyne, Naughton or Cannon got wind of them.

And, instead of hot-tailing it to media outlets, they played it smart and phoned the clubs directly, gaining real kudos – and votes – by giving them the heads-up first. Cute hoors!

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


Galway City councillors see red over Green senator’s tweet  



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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FG in Galway eyes Padraig Conneely comeback and Conroy coup! 



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Fine Gael is getting desperate to find a candidate in Galway City East.

After a number of potential candidates turned-down requests to contest the Local Election in 2024, including pharmacist Barra Nevin, the party returned to the drawing board.

Sources have confirmed that FG is currently weighing up two ‘left-field’ options to run in this electoral ward.

One suggestion is to lure Pádraig Conneely back out of retirement. The corridors of power at City Hall have been quiet since controversial Conneely stepped away from electoral politics prior to the last Locals.

City councillors, many of them former colleagues of Conneely, have been whispering in recent weeks that his return to front-line politics may not be as far-fetched a notion as it was, say, two years ago.

At first it was said jokingly. But talk of the former mayor (or Mayor Emeritus as he refers to himself) making a comeback is growing legs.

A Marmite candidate, he has plenty of enemies, having attacked various policies and people during heated outbursts at Council meetings and in media interviews down through the years.

But he still retains a sufficient number of admirers inside and outside FG who grudgingly support his views, even if they’re a little uneasy at his abrasive method of articulating them.

That the former City Central rep is living on College Road, just inside the City East boundary, where there is a FG vacancy, has fuelled speculation that he could be welcomed back.

That’s a controversial call and one that will be resisted by many.

And it has led some in the party to look elsewhere for fresh blood. One high-profile man with impeccable credentials who is being sounded out is Galway senior footballer and St James’ legend, Paul Conroy.

It’s understood the Fine Gael organisation plans to approach Conroy to persuade him to put his name forward and will dangle the carrot of guaranteeing a shot at the Dáil, if he were to run in the Locals and take a seat.

A brilliant ambassador for the GAA, for his club and community, and for the Irish language, FG – and other parties – could do worse than to have Paul Conroy’s name representing them on the ballot paper.

There is an element of kite-flying by Fine Gael in touting Conneely and Conroy as possible election candidates to help win back the seat lost by John Walsh in 2019.

But if either could be coaxed onto the ballot paper (and it’s a big ‘if’), they would be serious contenders in a six-seater where Fine Gael has a natural support base.

It’s bound to be a topic of debate as the great and the good gather for Mayor of Galway Councillor Clodagh Higgins’ Mayoral Ball in the Ardilaun this weekend.

(Photo: Padraig Conneely)
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway City Council in no rush to discuss move to Crown Square



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The haste shown by Galway City councillors in approving a €45.5m loan to buy Crown Square was unusual, as has been noted previously in this column.

That they approved a loan three days after they received an official report which detailed options, including a recommendation to move City Hall to Monivea Road, was atypical of an organisation that rarely rushes to do anything.

It has reverted to type, though.

An updated Crown Square report for city councillors, prepared by the Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath – who is one of the main proponents of the move – has been on the Council agenda since January of this year.

Four months and as many ordinary Council meetings later, elected representatives have still not debated its contents.

It’s taking them so long to get to the report, a cynic might suggest that they don’t want to discuss the Crown Square move because a number of councillors have had second thoughts on it, despite initially voting in favour.

Among those gone cold on the idea is Green Party councillor in City West, Niall Murphy, who said on Facebook that he had voted for the original plan “in the belief that there would be reduced parking at the Crown site”.

Cllr Murphy said McGrath “nearly had me in tears of joy”, when the CE “gave his best speech ever” about the local authority leading by example on reducing car-parking spaces at its brand new HQ. His tune has changed, though.

Niall’s reverse ferret came days after the Galway City Tribune revealed, through documents released under Freedom of Information, that the Council had struck a deal to buy 200 car-parking spaces, not 100 as originally planned. It “agreed to purchase 200 exclusive underground car-parking spaces at €3,087,500 exclusive of VAT”.

For Cllr Imelda Byrne (FF), it took less than a week after voting in favour of the loan to change her mind, after she claimed that councillors were “hoodwinked” about what the City Hall site would be used for once it was sold.

Other councillors, while still in favour of the move, are concerned that they were not given the full picture before they voted for it, and now they are vulnerable to criticism for approving something they clearly were not fully informed about.

Will councillors finally get to discuss the report that has been on their agenda since January, when they meet this May, or will it be long-fingered again?

(Photo: Green Party councillor, Niall Murphy).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 5 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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