The restoration of a healthy relationship between councillors and council officials, positioning Galway as a leader in the alternative energy sector, integrating the city’s diverse communities, and completing the Galway City Outer Bypass are Fianna Fáil’s priorities for the next Galway City Council.
Fianna Fáil’s seven local election candidates this week launched A New Direction for Galway City Council, an ambitious document outlining their vision for Galway city over the next five years.
Councillors John Connolly (Galway City Central ), Michael J Crowe (Galway City East ) and Mary Leahy (Galway City East ) were joined by candidates Val Hanley and Peter Keane (Galway City West ), Ollie Crowe (Galway City Central ), and Sheila Mangan (Galway City East ), as well as the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív and Dep Frank Fahey TD for the launch of A New Direction for Galway City Council
A New Direction for Galway City Council outlines the party’s priorities for the next city council which will address the economic, infrastructural, and community issues affecting Galway.
Cllr John Connolly criticised the Fine Gael/Labour dominance of the council, accusing it of indulging in “one-upmanship, ego development, and insults” and treating the “issues that required serious debate have been a mere afterthought”.
He said the current council has projected a negative image of Galway with “every opportunity taken to highlight and exaggerate the city’s difficulties without any concern” for Galway’s reputation.
As such Fianna Fáil were releasing A New Direction that will lay the ground for “the restoration of a healthy relationship between members and council officials and management, something that is essential to efficient local government”.
Peter Keane outlined Fianna Fáil’s vision for Galway as a leader in the emerging area of alternative energy.
“Alternative energy is fast emerging as a major employer,” he said. “In A New Direction we have committed to focusing on this crucial area, and that will start with the establishment of a new Strategic Policy Committee to strengthen the commitment of the city council in the area.”
He said FF will get the council to work with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, NUI, Galway, and GMIT to establish Galway as a central location for research, development, and manufacture of equipment for alternative energy industries.
Businessman Ollie Crowe said he wants to see the commercial rates were frozen for the next three years.
“I have first-hand experience of the difficulties being experienced by business people in the city at the moment,” he said. “We must work to see a reduction in the red tape involved in small and medium sized businesses and it is vital that we do whatever we can to encourage entrepreneurship. It is a disgrace to see all the units that are currently empty on Shop Street.”
Mary Leahy highlighted the need for more “joined-up-thinking” on the council in relation to providing community supports to deter anti-social behaviour, and in relation to the integration of foreign nationals living in the city.
“More than 40 different nationalities are represented in the Doughiska area,” she said. “It is vital the city council initiates a structured response to ensuring they are effectively integrated into the city’s community.”
Cllr Crowe said FF councillors are focused on their work and on delivering for the people of Galway.
“There have been considerable improvements in the city as a result of our work,” he said, “including the establishment of the private bus centre at Fairgreen, the roll out of Quality Bus Corridors and the continuing work on the development of park and ride facilities.”
Val Hanley said the party also remains committed to the Galway City Outer Bypass, a structure he accused the Labour Party councillors of trying to obstruct.
“Fianna Fáil is 100 per cent supportive of the Galway City Outer Bypass,” he said. “Labour leader Eamon Gilmore repeatedly berates the Government for what he claims is a lack of investment in infrastructural projects, yet his own councillors in the city have been most against the bypass at city council level.”
First-time candidate, Sheila Mangan said there is a need to improve community facilities.
“I believe community development is the process by which any community is enriched or made better by the work within a community through the council and voluntary organisations,” she said. “These organisations allow all members of the community to be involved in local decisions.”
However Fine Gael Galway City East councillor Brian Walsh described the FF comments and document as “the sting of a dying wasp”.