Sitting down in Crowe’s Bar last Thursday morning having the tae when a voice over my shoulder said, “Lord MJ you must be a threat to someone when they’re writing that stuff about you!”
The individual was referring to that morning’s Insider article in this newspaper which is “penned by politicians themselves” and not regular journalists in case anyone has any doubt.
The article was pretty hard hitting and contained a number of inaccuracies. I felt it went well over the line in fair and balanced commentary. I am used to the cut and thrust of politics and the challenges that this presents.
I have the odd cut myself but believe the argument should be about policy or politics and not the uninformed comment that was penned by last week’s author.
For me, issues that arise in the council chamber are straightforward. I listen to all sides of each case. I make my decision after informed thought and can understand logical argument backed up by facts and figures relatively quickly.
That’s when I decide to support an issue or not. I then make my case for or against it and if you don’t believe in my views I have no problem with that. I have put my case forward and will accept the outcome. That is democracy and there is no better yardstick.
Ultimately for all candidates the people decide in the ballot box. And ballot boxes don’t lie. The article began with reference to last year’s local election and “the callous manner in which Cllr Crowe dispensed with Connolly and Leahy”.
For the record I had no hand, act or part in any of those people’s re-election prospects as I had enough to do in my own campaign, but was genuinely sorry that more of my colleagues were not elected.
The article was also throwing out the usual line about how Frank Fahey and I continue to supposedly fight like cats and dogs all of the time, and went on to make a number of comparisons between us and how, in the writer’s opinion, Frank was the much better man for Fianna Fáil than I.
Frank and I have a working relationship. Let me put on record I am not interested in taking Frank Fahey’s seat or any other TD’s seat.
When I ran in the general election in 2007 I simply wanted enough people to vote for me to get my own seat. I believe I would have represented the people of Galway West well. Unfortunately that was not to be and I narrowly missed out. If I run again my aim will still be that and, having had a bit more of an apprenticeship served, maybe I could represent the people even better.
Last week’s article stated how I was a former banker and currently an auctioneer who helped fuel the property boom. It also claimed I have a tendency to become very annoyed and lose control at council meetings, how “I hate trees”, and questioned my media performances along with a number of other false claims.
For the record I am not now nor was I ever a banker. I am a part time auctioneer who has sold approximately 20 houses in total over the last four years. That’s hardly a big participant in the property boom.
I have been on the council since 2004 and don’t recall ever losing control at a council meeting and, unlike many others, always respected the chair and more importantly his/her rulings. My line about the trees at the time was actually, “I am sick of trees”, in which I was referring to one specific area in Bohermore which was causing untold problems for the community there, not the entire tree population in Galway!
It also made reference to how I objected in relation to some development Val Hanley was doing. Again a total untruth. I never objected to any development Val Hanley applied for. It also had a go at me over my position as chair of the Transport Committee in Galway city and compared this to the Dáil Transport Committee.
There are obvious differences but both committees have their own very important roles.
In mid 2007 I became chair of both Transport Committees in Galway city, ie, the Transport Strategic Committee Galway and the Integrated Transport Committee.
Since then I have worked hard at introducing policy and pushing infrastructural changes that will improve the conditions for all road users across Galway. A number of very positive changes have occurred. For the first time in the history of Galway we now have a full time dedicated Transportation Unit based within City Hall.
This has really only developed over the last couple of years. Although the vast majority of the public may be unaware of the existence of this unit, it will drive the necessary change needed for all modals of transport and transport infrastructure in Galway in the coming years.
So what have I and this unit delivered in these years? We have introduced bus lanes on key routes which previously had not been seen in the city and are continuing to develop these across Galway.
Only last week I announced we were successful in obtaining €2.5 million for the upgrade of the Seamus Quirke Road which will have two further bus lanes. We developed a private bus terminal off College Road, the first of its kind in the country. This is a very valuable piece of transport infrastructure and has added enormous comfort to bus users.
We have run a park and ride service over the Christmas periods and for the all important Volvo 2009 race and are presently working on a full time park and ride facility. We are currently rolling out new bus shelters across the city with plans to put information for all bus providers at these stops.
We are putting the final touches to the Smarter Travel bid for the Department of Transport National Competition which has to be submitted by April 30. If successful this will be of particular benefit to pedestrians and cyclists.
We are working in whatever way we can to aid the development of the Harbour and the Ceannt Station site, while continuing to develop and nurture good positive relationships with the Galway Chamber Of Commerce, Green Schools, and the IDA, to name but a few, all of whom contribute greatly to the transport cause in the city. This gives you an idea of the work load that the Transportation Unit faces. I am proud to be its chair. I take the positions very seriously and will do all I can in those positions to do what is best for Galway.
The article questioned my ability and judgement and how, according to the writer, I was passed over for the vacancies in the Senate during the year and “how senior FF personnel have lost confidence in Cllr Crowe”.
In each of these cases the argument was weak and futile. It was also interesting that on the same day this article was published the count for the election of councillors on to the Fianna Fáil National Councillors Forum was taking place in head office. There were four seats on the forum to be filled from the Connacht/Ulster region.
I was delighted that my Fianna Fáil councillors from this region put their faith in me to represent them on this committee and was humbled and honoured to have topped the poll, getting elected on the first count.
The only thing I will say on any discussion I have with the Taoiseach or senior people within the party on any matter is that it is and shall remain confidential. The only thought that entered my mind during these talks and will enter it in any future talks, is what was and is best for the people I represent in Galway. As long as I am elected by the people this will continue to be my first, second, and last rule. The people must come first.
Insider is happy to clarify the inaccuracies in last week’s column as outlined by Cllr Crowe - Editor.