Over the next few months, a considerable amount of public money will be spent on making some very practical changes to our council chambers. In County Hall, the price of a house is being set aside to make room for the nine extra councillors who will take their seats there for the first meeting in June. Across the city in City Hall, the councillors will be asked to shed a few pounds and a few euro to make room for the slightly more respectable additional number of three councillors who will be elected to the new council.
So what will all these candidates bring to these enlarged tables? Are they there because they are someone's brother or sister or daughter or friend? Are they there because they have been loyal to the party? Are they there because they have been good at something else entirely different and someone somewhere thought it would be good idea if they ran for the council? Are they there because they have been there before and ‘musha shure the place wouldn't be the same without them?” Are they there merely because they are male or because they are female? Of course nobody is going to admit to any of the above, but if these are merely the reasons they are there, they are doing a disservice to the community to which they swear allegiance.
Galway is facing a crucial decade in which it can position itself as being one of the top cities in the country, by seeing through the plans it has for tourism, industry, education, research, and development, and therefore also enriching the county around it. Now when creativity is the only currency we have, the need for innovation is all the greater as in political terms hunger can be a great sauce.
With projects such as the harbour development, the proposed bypass, the City of Culture status, the enhancement of our third level colleges into combined centres of research excellence in a variety of fields, all basking in the reflective benefits of the 1916 centenary, the period from 2015 to 2020 will be crucial for our area.
Therefore it is more important than ever that we have the best people running our local authorities, steering the shop in the right direction, shedding party politics for the greater good of the community.
In an ideal world, the 39 county councillors and the 18 city councillors who will be hoisted on the shoulders of their supporters in the late hours of May 24 and early hours of May 25 will be a good mix, representative of the city and county. Ideally, they should possess a characteristic that allows them to make a solid contribution to the betterment of life in our communities.
At a time when politics has such a low stock, voters should be more demanding of their councillors and representatives, really seeking for the first time an indication of their abilities as individuals rather than their affiliations. When it comes to choosing a candidate or whether you are to stand yourself, be sure that you or your candidate has something to offer other than the desire to be a councillor.