In 2001, the Republic of Ireland played Holland in a do or die World Cup football match at Lansdowne Road.
Within the first few minutes, the Dutch side’s mercurial winger Marc Overmars set off on a mazy run through the heart of the Irish midfield. It was to last but seconds, as a thundering side tackle saw Overmars become the Flying Dutchman.
The significance of that tackle was major as it set the tone for the remainder of that afternoon which resulted in a momentous victory for the Irish.
On Monday evening, Labour’s Derek Nolan making his debut in City Hall got his first tackle in in similarly spectacular style. Just 20 minutes into his first meeting, he scythed through Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the new rainbow coalition on the city council by labelling them as a ‘betrayal of the electorate.” He said that the pact rewards Fianna Fail which the city actively campaigned against, adding that Fine Gael had reneged on its promise not to do business with Fianna Fail.
In scattergun approach, he lashed into the unlikely alliance facing him across the chamber, shooting crows and slaughtering sacred cows in the rainbow as his bewildered colleagues looked on with a sort of “I don’t know, he’s not with us” sort of expression.
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However, Michael Crowe, now the senior Fianna Failer in the chamber and who showed that himself and brother Ollie can be a good team, lashed back, saying that this meeting was no time for party politics, but he was fecked if he was going to take this lying down.
“I’m not going to sit here and allow Fianna Fail to take a kicking,” he said, before laying out how Fianna Fail actually did quite well in Galway, winning an extra seat in the election and holding its vote.
“There’s no point in someone kicking up just because they didn’t win the raffle,” he said, adding that he was disappointed that the tone of the evening had been brought down by Nolan’s remarks.
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Brian Walsh too soon waded in with fists flying, saying to a stunned and silent Labour contingent that they had behaved dishonourably in their negotiations and had left him with little option but to go across to the dark side and negotiate with Fianna Fail.
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Cllr Terry O’Flaherty arrived at the meeting sporting a shiner and a nasty bruise on her nose — her injuries not a legacy of Labour’s flirtations with her, but of a falling election billboard which came careering down on her at the weekend and left her pumping blood. Bloodied but unbowed, she took her place at the centre of all the fuss, having been the person who rejected Labour’s advances.
To be fair to the boy Nolan, he wasnt the only one who arrived at City Hall on Monday with an agenda.
While he was rounded upon for bringing politics into the first meeting (how dare he ), it was mayor Padraic Conneely who had the first niggle when he commiserated with four councillors who had lost their seats, conveniently forgetting his old arch nemesis Daniel Callanan. However, Cllr Callanan was not to be forgotten about for long, as the Mayor tore in to the absent ex-councillor.
“Right from the start last year, I came under scrutiny from one councillor who made it extremely personal for me and my family,” said Mayor Conneely.
With constant references to Padraig’s new VBF (very best friend ) Barack, he said that Callanan had used the slogan “yes I can’ in his campaign, but that the public had decided “no, you can’t.”
There was consternation around the chamber, but hey, it was ‘Game On’. It was what the crowds had come to see. They hung from the balconies above the Chamber Hall and looked on. It was what they had read about and heard about.
Catherine Connolly was the only councillor who expressed her disgust at the mayor putting the boot into the defeated councillor, saying that the occasion called for a greater display of dignity and respect than had just been witnessed. She went on to say that she is confident the council can all work together. She added that they all agree on the same things. “What they disagree about is the level of consultation,” adding that the rainbow can forget about hopes of delivering the outer bypass for the city, especially now with the matter to feature in the High Court within weeks.
Tributes were paid to Mayor Conneely who had attended a staggering 1,400 events during the year and who it was agreed had been a very competent first citizen. And to his able deputy Colette Connolly; before Mayor Declan McDonnell took over the chain.
It’s exactly a decade since he last sat in that seat and wore that chain and the perception of the Council has changed a lot in the interim. His main priority is to change the image of the council from a dysfunctional family to that of a council that can do business for Galway.
Mayor McDonnell is coming to the next meeting with a list of proposals that he feels will expedite decision making in the city, and God, isn’t that needed.
But what a start? It promises to be fiery. It remains to be seen it if will be productive. The jury is still out. Game on!