There aren’t many machines that can keep going all day. Or workers. Or products. Legislation wouldn’t permit it. For that matter there aren’t many towns that can offer as much at night as they do during the day. When darkness falls, the natural attractions which bring people into places are shrouded in a lack of light and rendered inhospitable. Rare are the places that are equally welcoming by day and by night.
In Galway we are extremely fortunate to have a product that lives right around the clock. And this week that versatility was officially honoured when we were treated to a right dollop of 50 shades of Purple Flag. At last, the fluffy, friendly, cuddly, side of Galway has been recognised as an official asset. The benefits to Galway of receiving this accolade are wide ranging. There is an improved perception of Purple Flag towns and cities. They also attract more visitors and have lower levels of crime and anti-social behaviour because the arrangements for those towns and cities at night make unacceptable behaviour just plain unacceptable.
However, this flag comes as the city is on a roll of momentum. There is an energy about Galway now right from its civic governance, its cultural sectors, its educational aspirations, its media breadth and variety, its sporting revivals, its culinary reputation and much much more. It is this drive that if continued will make Galway THE Irish city of the 21st century.
At the helm of the City Council we have a team who seem determined to drive Galway on to compete and win all the accolades for which it competes. And the Purple Flag is further evidence of this. Kudos to Sharon Carroll and her team at City Hall for what they have done with this.
What the city needs now is to build on this feeling of safeness and provide facilites for families to enjoy nighttime activities without the need to go into pubs or restaurants. Eyre Square and Spanish Arch should house outdoor seating areas where people could get a coffee and a romantic bun till the early hours. We can ensure that cities remain safe by proofing them against unacceptable behaviour. And all of this can be done simply and cheaply.
In the excellent work done by the team who won this award, they emphasised the importance of the great togetherness shown in Galway’s business community to tackle issues like alcohol abuse, crime, violence to such a point that we were comfortable showing the judges around from 5pm to 5am on a Friday/Saturday last December
What the judges saw impressed them and they acknowledged that Galway has worked very hard.
What is happening at the moment in Galway is a major shift towards proactively building this city and surrounding areas for the next century. If the harbour development and the roads get the go ahead without major consequence; and if we secure the Capital of Cuture title, we are setting Galway up to be in a position it has never been — simultaneously using the city’s geoghraphic base on the sea and its acquired status of a really meaningful cultural capital. Marry the two and you have a unique product here on the western edge of Europe. It will set Galway up for the next century. Now, let’s wrap that Purple Flag around us.