City councillors - all revved up with nowhere to go
Insider has sat through many frustrating and meandering meetings of Galway City Council, but this was exceptional as discussion ambled from unconstructive rants by grandstanding councillors to aimless debate over loading bays.
More of the same please, as Galway City Council meeting fails to deliver on traffic.
By The Insider
Monday’s emergency Galway City Council meeting to tackle traffic congestion had a lot in common with the gridlock that it aspired to solve - it was stop-start, slow-moving, tempers became frayed, and after four hours you realised that you hadn’t actually got anywhere.
The discussion detoured through a plethora of pointless topics as councillors were afforded a platform from which to tout what director of services Ciarán Hayes described as “simplistic” suggestions, without ever arriving at even a temporary solution.
The much-vaunted meeting was rendered all the more pointless by the fact that Mayor Hildegarde Naughton failed to check if the Gardaí were on board before steering the meeting into traffic and refused to yield to calls for the postponement of the talks until gardaí were available.
The purpose of the meeting was to bridge what the Mayor called the “disconnect” between the council and the Gardaí, except proceeding without the participation of Gardaí was like revving a car that has no wheels.
Accordingly, as councillors revved, they blew smoke, and made a lot of noise but they were never really going anywhere.
The failure to postpone, pending attendance by gardaí, exposed the meeting as a cynical and hypocritical publicity stunt rather than a coherent effort to alleviate the plight of city commuters – show time rather than substance.
Whispers abound in City Hall that the Mayor was in such a frenzy to ensure a substantial media presence that she actually omitted to extend an invitation to the Garda, who were unable to attend at short notice in the hours preceding Monday’s meeting.
Instead of effectively bringing together the Traffic Corps and the local authority, the meeting quickly descended into farce. Insider has sat through many frustrating and meandering meetings of Galway City Council, but this was exceptional.
Rather than working to find a short or medium term solution to alleviate the chaotic congestion experienced by motorists on Galway roads over the past few weeks, the discussion ambled from unconstructive rants by grandstanding councillors to aimless debate over loading bays.
The Mayor even accepted a motion that the council should “consider” an outer bypass. The blueprint for the Galway City Outer Bypass is currently before the European Court of Justice, having been considered for the past 14 years!
The council deciding it should consider an outer bypass at this stage is like an expectant mother considering having a baby midway through her third trimester.
The council deciding it should consider an outer bypass at this stage is like an expectant mother considering having a baby midway through her third trimester, and served to epitomise the pointless nature of the taxpayer-funded emergency meeting of the local authority.
Perhaps too much is expected of Mayor Naughton’s ability to steer meetings from the driving seat of the council. Between Norrisgate and the backtracking from her stance on rezoning, she has spent most of her time at the wheel in reverse.
While she may have refused to issue an invitation to City Hall for Sen David Norris and forgot to pop one in the post for the Gardaí, it is interesting to note that she made no such omission in inviting her Fine Gael cronies as she rolled out the blue carpet for a lavish reception at City Hall to coincide with their parliamentary party meeting this week.
Insider would hope that Mayor Naughton used the opportunity to put pressure on her party leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to provide funding for the Galway City Council under the Smarter Travel plan, so real steps can be taken to solve the city’s traffic problems rather than indulging in the theatrics of this week’s pointless talk shop.
Ciarán Hayes set out his stall early in the meeting when he told councillors that the local authority simply “did not have the tools” to solve the city’s traffic gridlock. In the absence of the Garda Traffic Corps, one must wonder what the point was of proceeding for another four hours when it had been made known that the council did not control the resources to provide a solution.
One of the items due to be discussed was the possibility of deploying gardaí to control junctions at peak times to alleviate traffic congestion. However, with no gardaí at the emergency meeting, that potential short-term solution was quickly struck from the agenda.
Given it was vaunted as such a crucial meeting from the moment she finally ceded to her party colleagues request for it to be convened, it will be interesting to see whether Mayor Naughton will rearrange for a meeting to be held which the Gardaí can actually attend.
If she fails to bring together the Garda Traffic Corps and the Galway City Council, between which she has alleged such a damaging disconnect, then the meeting that proceeded in the absence of gardaí last Monday will be exposed as a sham and a cynical attempt to glean media coverage from a crisis that was never going to be solved.