Daisy-chain revolutionaries should link hands with the workers, not the politicians
YOU couldn’t make it up. A Tuam politician who sleepwalked through the entire urban development project centred on O’Toole’s is proposing to lead a protest on Friday to highlight a planning outcome he doesn’t approve of, while engineering it in such a way that it deflects attention from him and his pals.
Yes, Tuam’s champion of the workers, Labour Cllr Shaun Cunniffe, will lead the daisy-chain brigade as they link arms and protest about a road that no longer exists. The only people who may be affected by this will be the SuperValu workers, who are fearful of the consequences such a protest and the associated bile-infused campaign might have on their jobs.
Cllr Cunniffe certainly won’t be affected, which given the part he played in the construction he is objecting to, is just another of those little ironies that we Irish do so well. No, he’ll be outside, safe in the knowledge that those workers inside have to pay taxes to keep him and his ilk in well-paid, very part-time jobs. He might even be able to claim expenses for being there, if his participation can be classed as the legitimate business of a public representative. Who knows? In the Alice-in-Wonderland state Shaun inhabits, anything is possible. Maybe best to play safe and ask SuperValu workers to do a bit of overtime on the day to make sure they can contribute enough to maintain Comrade Cunniffe on the “peaceful protest”.
It’ll take more than the taxes from a bit of overtime, however, if Shaun’s handler, Comrade Keaveney TD, arrives to link hands. They’ll be working all night to pay the expenses he can claim. Deputy Keaveney might be able to make it; he’ll be starting his summer holidays on Thursday and won’t have to be back on the job until nearly October. Cute hoors that they are, his constituency colleagues are keeping well out of it. Deputies Connaughton, Cannon and Kitt know there’s nothing in it for them and all three will be happy to let Keaveney take the flak if it backfires.
Both Labour lads will have to make a lot of noise to deflect attention from their own lamentable roles in the process leading up to the disappearance of the road. If you’re genuinely interested in this organised farce, look up the minutes of a Galway Co Council meeting held in Killimor on May 23, 2011. They’re online. See page three. Here’s a taster:
“… it was being proposed to dispose of the lands marked 4 and C – D on Drawing No. 01 dated l9th May, 2011, to Joseph and Helen O’Toole. He advised that an extinguishment of public right of way would be needed for the area C – D following completion of the inner relief road marked A – B and its transfer to public ownership.
On the proposal of Cllr. [Tom] McHugh, seconded by Cllr. [Sean] Canney, it was agreed that the disposal of 0.1538 hectares of land at Bishop Street, Tuam, Co. Galway to Joseph and Helen O’Toole Bishop Street, Tuam, be approved.”
The disposal of the lands, including the extinguishment of the right of way, was passed — unanimously — just over a year ago. And who found himself there, stuffed, no doubt, just like me, from the Mayor’s lunch, and chuffed with the thought of all those expenses from Tuam to Killimor and back? — None other than Comrade Cunniffe himself. Not a squeak over the dead-in-the-water right of way did he emit. Strange that.
Who chaired the Tuam Area committee meetings at County Hall when all this was being dealt with? Yes, you’ve guessed it — Cllr Colm Keaveney — the man who passed his discarded council seat on to Cunniffe —without a vote being fired — when Colm moved up. “Let he who is without sin…”
The brainpower of a lobotomised amoeba
I CARRY no torch for Joe O’Toole. We inhabit different worlds. But expecting a businessman not to take full advantage of a supine establishment is like expecting a bear not to crap in the woods. He’s a pragmatist, however, and a compromise will be worked out.
I’m not opposed to protest; a lot more of it would have us all better off. But this protest is being held in the wrong place and directed at the wrong people. Why not hold it outside County Hall, targeting the politicians and officials who so richly deserve the ire of the public? Let those paid from the public purse take the abuse, not the workers on the way in to their jobs.
Surely, on publication of the original plans (well publicised in this newspaper) to construct a major urban renewal development in the area, a lobotomised amoeba would have realised that more than the odd flowerbed might be disturbed?
Or did the keyboard warriors think a huge retail complex with multi-tiered basement parking, hotel and arts centre etc, would fit snugly into the existing car park?
Did it not dawn on anyone that the road about which they are now so exercised might not be left intact? Maybe they thought it could be run as a design feature through the lobby of the hotel? Whatever they thought, the only one I can remember whingeing about the plan was myself and no one — not even me — pays me any heed.
So what’s the logic here — it’s OK to build a multi-storey car park under the road, but building a regular one is a car park too far? I’m sure the felled trees would have appreciated the difference.
Next, for those who somehow missed the largest urban development ever proposed for the town, along came the new inner-relief road. We in The Tuam Herald, and our media colleagues throughout the county, were sick to the back teeth of writing about it. But where was the outcry? Did the Palace patriots think a flyover or an underpass would be built to preserve the road?
And then — for those living on Pluto while this tale was unfolding over the past ten years or so — there was the entertaining saga of the stand-off between the nuns, not women to miss a money-making opportunity when they have a man over a barrel, and Joe O’Toole. Did the resurgent protestors think this most astute of businessmen was going to allow himself be milked by the nuns so he could turn the property he acquired into a wildlife sanctuary?
Now, I’m all for turning the clock back. While we’re reinstating the road could we also have Rory O’Connor’s castle back in its rightful place in the town? I’m not sure, but I think it may have been demolished without permission. Mind you, Rory himself wasn’t much of a man for the ould planning permission. He probably threw it up and figured he’d apply for retention, like the rest of the country.
Maybe we can get the arts community to stage a re-enactment. That should draw a crowd on Friday and, if they ask nicely, I’m sure Joe O’Toole will provide some sponsorship. I see Midie Corcoran as King Rory. I see fireworks. It wouldn’t be Tuam without fireworks. I see tears. Ditto.
Don’t stab a town in the heart
I’VE tilted at a fair few windmills in my time and stand over my — and this newspaper’s — record on the Palace Grounds. I’ve always maintained the park is an itch the Co Council is determined to scratch and they won’t be happy until it’s concreted over. It’s sacrilege, is the attitude; all that open space going to waste.
But where was the support for it back when it was needed? Where were the local troubadours strumming Ode to Greenwood on their lutes? Where were the radical lawyers and the concerned business people? I guess I peaked too soon. We didn’t have facebook back then.
This whole charade is testament to the absolute failure of political representation at community level, and an accompanying absolute lack of accountability at County Hall. It mirrors exactly what has gone on — and is still going on — at national level.
So politicians fomenting protest to deflect from their own failings are playing a very risky game. Keaveney and Cunniffe might ask themselves just how many of their facebook buddies who are egging them on now will bother getting out of bed to vote for them next time out? Then they might want to ponder the reaction if this gamble misfires.
Peevish barbs floating in the ether
THE SuperValu workers, their families, friends, neighbours and the community at large might not be so forgiving if the peevish barbs floating out there in the ether have negative consequences on income, on jobs — or on the town.
Reference to a boycott may have been removed from the social media site, but you can’t un-ring a bell. It’s out there now and the workers are understandably unnerved.
This is no time for some of those sucking deeply from the teat of state to play fast and loose with the livelihoods of those who subsidise them.
The protestors’ wrath might be better directed at their public representatives who have so flagrantly dodged their obligations to the people they purport to represent.
And they might spare some of their righteous anger for the County Hall mandarins, the Clown Council and An Taisce. But last, though not least, they might maintain a little of their anger for themselves — the ‘concerned’ citizens, who only woke up long after this particular horse had bolted.
Lynch a councillor, burn County Hall — even write a letter to The Herald — but don’t stab at the heart of a struggling town in the vain hope of turning back the clock. Next time sit in front of the bulldozers — not on your arses.