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Tighten your belts chaps, we’re off to Alicante

It may just be that they’re not going, but a number of councillors have voiced their concerns at the current trip/junket to Alicante for the launch of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Right now city manager Joe MacGrath, Director of Services for Economic Development, Tom Connell, Mayor Padraig Conneely, councillors Catherine Connolly, Collette Connolly, John Mulholland, Donal Lyons, and Michael Crowe are over in Spain overseeing the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. But don’t worry they flew Ryanair: our council is watching its costs.

Perception is everything in politics, and at a time of great economic uncertainty, and water crises (they’d never get away if they stayed around for those, you say ), for a great bulk of our councillors to be jetting off - at the expense of the taxpayer - to Alicante is a little odd.

Of course our system of local governance means our councillors have very little power and their presence in Galway isn’t, to be honest, even required most of the time.

The city manager and mayor should of course be present at the beginning of a race that is a seminal moment in Galway’s modern history.

What grates here is the expense, and the timing. At last Monday’s council meeting the city manager announced that the upcoming local budget would be the toughest in 25 years and just over a week later the council is paying for a junket to Alicante.

One councillor said, “I’d feel that it would have been adequate to just have the mayor, and officials present.

“We need representation. But with the state of the economy and the water situation, is it necessary to have five councillors and the mayor present?”

And as council source told me, “There’s far too many of them going. And this is after last week when the manager announced that the next budget would be the toughest in 25 years. And in that context bringing over this many people to a boat race doesn’t make sense.

“What interest does the chair of an Environmental Strategic Policy Committee have going to a boat race?”

What, indeed.

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