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Bradley Bytes

Unintended consequences of NUIG’s chilling legal letter



Did I back the wrong one?

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

More rumblings of discontent over at the Quadrangle.  As if NUI Galway hasn’t enough bad publicity on its plate, this week it was confirmed its legal eagles sent a missive to an American-based host of a campaigning, often critical, blog.

NUIG has threatened to sue for defamation, Automattic Inc, the company that owns, which is the providers of the blog

The ‘three conditions’ campaign is supported by some students, past and present, as well as some current and former staff.

It seeks to highlight gender discrimination issues at NUIG and offers three solutions as to how the third level institute could clean-up its act in relation to the promotion of women staff members.

It has the backing of Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, a former lecturer who won an Equality Tribunal case against NUIG for gender discrimination.

The blog highlights her case. And it also supports five more women who were short-listed and deemed eligible but who, like Sheehy Skeffington in 2009, were not promoted.

This ‘famous five’ are pursuing the matter, with the help of Sheehy Skeffington’s €70,000 damages.

You’ve probably already guessed it but for the avoidance of doubt the blog is not very complimentary of NUIG or its management and by association its president, Dr Jim Browne.

NUIG is a sensitive institution that doesn’t like criticism, regardless of whether it’s for its own good in the long-run and in the public interest.

You’ll recall two months ago there was a censorship hullabaloo made by NUIG’s Students’ Union president, Phelim Kelly.

He said he was “extremely frustrated” with university authorities, who put obstacles in the way of the organisers of the Secret Cartoonist exhibition the SU was organising.

It contained close-to-the-bone satirical cartoons that poked fun at a fictional university president and gender inequality issues.

But even allowing for NUIG’s reaction to the exhibition, and taking into account that it gets prickly when less than complimentary things are said about it, it is still a surprise NUIG has decided to pursue the legal route to remove one particular blog post, which it says includes remarks which are “clearly seriously damaging” to the institution.

Skeffington Sheehy is said to be “horrified” by the “ludicrous” legal proceedings.

NUIG protests it is protecting its reputation. Supporters of the blog and campaign say the university is attempting to shut them down.

Universities are supposed to be guardians of free speech. One consequence of this High Court defamation threat could be the chilling effect it will have on NUIG’s critics.

But there are always unintended consequences. And so not only has NUIG’s legal threat been highlighted in media this week, publicity it would prefer to do without, it has also inadvertently increased awareness of

And it’s emboldened the campaign – if NUIG’s actions do close the blog, its supporters have vowed to take to social media to continue spread their gospel.

McNelis kiss of death for leadership hopefuls

While we’ll stop short of calling Labour Party City Councillor Niall McNelis a ‘loser’, he sure does know how to back one.

When the knives came out for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, McNelis, and his then colleague, Galway West TD, Derek Nolan, were busy backing Alex White to take over.

McNelis backed the wrong horse. Joan Burton won that particular heave.

And when the knives came out for Joan, and she stepped aside, after a disastrous general election for the party, McNelis was rowing in behind deputy leader, Alan Kelly, to replace her, as our photo shows.

McNelis backed the wrong horse again.

Brendan Howlin took the hot-seat, leaving Kelly humiliated, and throwing a tantrum.

Given Howlin’s below-bar performance since taking the hot-seat, it probably won’t be long before Labour dumps him too. Maybe then McNelis will be lucky the third time, and actually back the right leader.

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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