“At a time when Galway faces great challenges in health, housing and traffic, Budget 2018 is not providing the solutions.”“An ambitious budget would have funded Sláintecare, the first cross-party plan for our health service. Budget 2018 didn’t. An ambitious budget would have provided a fund to build a mix of affordable housing in Galway for sale and social housing, taking Galwegians off the streets and moving children out of hotel rooms and into homes. Budget 2018 didn’t. An ambitious budget would have invested in bus networks and cycling lanes to unclog the streets of Galway. Budget 2018 didn’t.”“Instead of tackling the real problems facing the country, saving much more money in the future that could then be put back into people’s pockets, government has tried to buy off every single voter with a fiver or a tenner a week. These major crises will now continue and worsen for at least another year because of government inaction. In the Social Democrats, we are trying to be honest with people about long-term solutions, keep taxes as they are and use the money to invest competently in the public services. We hope that the people of Galway will give us a chance to implement this kind of honest government at the next election.”
From today’s Galway Advertiser:
Have you ever thought about getting involved in politics? This Saturday Aug 26 at 2pm at the PorterShed off Eyre Square, the Galway West Branch of the Social Democrats are holding a event called “Is Politics for you?”.
The session will be mostly focused on the practicalities of what it is actually like to get involved in politics as an elected rep, candidate, campaign manager or party staff member. Organisers promise they will not be preaching about policy and instead will be focusing entirely on helping people to decide if getting more involved is for them.
Speaking before being available for Q&A will be Cllr. Dermot Looney – Councillor for South County Dublin on what it’s like being an elected representative; Susan McGrady – Local Area Rep for Oranmore-Athenry on becoming a candidate/party representative; Anne Marie-McNally – Candidate Dublin Mid-West and Leinster House party staff member who will talk on working in politics and balancing politics and family life; and Sharon Nolan – National Executive – on the process for being selected as a Local Area Representative
Niall Ó Tuathail, Social Democrats Candidate for Galway will also be there to discuss local election plans for Galway and Sarah Jane Hennelly (Party Chairperson) will be there to answer any questions about the party nationally. If you have ever considered getting involved in politics, this event is for you!
“‘We are already building and growing a grassroots movement based on that support base and are hoping to have a newly elected Social Democrat TD after the next General Election. If you would like to get involved in the campaign please email [email protected],” he said.
Is Labour’s difficulty the Soc Dem’s opportunity?
Niall Ó Tuathail’s official announcement as the Social Democrats’ Galway West candidate at the next General Election is simply confirmation of what many political watchers had long expected.
Mr Ó Tuathail ran in the 2016 election, gaining 5.38 per cent of first preferences and a total vote of 5,278 which saw him last to the 11th of that election’s 14 counts. While he had hoped to challenge more substantially for a seat, and began the campaign with high hopes and confidence, his overall performance was, and was viewed by many, as quite respectable and a promising base from which to build on for the future.
Furthermore, a notable feature of his vote was that it overwhelmingly came from disillusioned former Labour voters, as well as from those for whom Sinn Féin is still somewhat problematic, and Solidarity and People Before Profit are too hard-Left – all indications that Labour’s decline could be the Soc Dem’s opportunity.
However following the election, Mr Ó Tuathail appeared to go to ground, while across the State, the Soc Dems seemed to become a moribund force, their momentum stalled. Establishing a new party is always difficult (just ask Lucinda Creighton ), but it began to look as though the party would never be any more than its founders and sitting TDs Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shorthall.
While the Soc Dems still have much to do to fully establish themselves and to capitalise on the now floating soft-Left/Liberal vote, an upswing in party activity in Galway has been noticeable in recent times, with Mr Ó Tuathail’s re-emergence engaging in issues as diverse as the Connemara ambulances and the proposed renovations of Blackrock. The party has also been canvassing and in June appointed local area representatives for the Galway East region, with Rob Partridge representing the Loughrea electoral ward, and Susan McGrady for Oranmore/Athenry.
The challenge now is for the party in Galway to build on the potential that exists and turn it into momentum. Labour is down (very down ) right now, but will not always be so and in reality, both parties are competing for exactly the same vote.
Galway West’s sitting TDs are Seán Kyne and Hildegarde Naughton (FG ), Éamon Ó Cuív (FF ), and Catherine Connolly and Noel Grealish (Ind ). Ó Cuív and Kyne are safe, meaning the battle is really for three seats. There has long been one Left seat in the constituency – a principle Michael D Higgins established in 1987 – and despite wishful thinking from some quarters, Dep Connolly remains the dominant Left presence in Galway West, with little to indicate this will change at the next election.
The question is, do two Left seats exist in Galway West? In 2016, the combined Left vote was 30.98 per cent – just under two quotas. Add in Independent councillor Mike Cubbard who draws some Left support and that becomes 34.28 – just over two quotas. So theoretically, the answer is yes. The eternal problem for the Left is that is extremely divided.
The Soc Dem’s route (and Labour’s ) to the Dáil is to try to take out FG’s Dep Naughton, and position themselves as the ‘only voice for the city’ in the Dáil – an approach Dep Naughton worked quite effectively in 2016. In Mr Ó Tuathail, and in Labour’s Cllr Niall McNelis, both parties have imaginative and energetic campaigners, but with recent polls showing the Soc Dems on two per cent and Labour at seven, neither is close to the 16.67 per cent quota needed in a five seater.
Yes, Hildegarde Naughton and Catherine Connolly’s first preference votes were only 7.11 and 7.59 in 2016, but Dep Naughton had John O’Mahony’s transfers to see her home while Dep Connolly can pull in huge transfers from the other Left candidates that Labour simply will not.
The spectre of Sinn Féin also looms large. As the third largest party in the State, a Galway West seat is surely a matter of when, not if, especially if SF ever decide to run a joint ticket of Sen Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Cllr Mairead Farrell.
The Soc Dems’ best hope in Galway remains taking over from Labour while that party is in the doldrums. Mr Ó Tuathail pointed out recently, “We were about 1,500 votes short at the last election and another 20 dedicated volunteers would have been the difference in winning”. The Soc Dems have some highly capable and excellent people in their ranks in Galway – there is potential and commitment there which would be remiss of them to allow go to waste.
The battle within the Galway Left and for the (theoretically potential ) two Left seats in the constituency will be fascinating next time out. The potential is there, but the the question, as ever, for the Soc Dems is, is the party in a position to capitalise on it?
“I am proud to have the unanimous support of the incredible and growing team of volunteers in the Social Democrats Galway branch, as well as Róisín Shortall TD and Catherine Murphy TD.”
“At the next election, I want to lead Galway into a conversation about the future – particularly the future of our healthcare system, the future of our city as we grow from being a large town to a small city, and the future of our politics where I believe we need a big new party that can lead government and implement ambitious ideas. I’m looking forward to having that conversation with people at the doorsteps, at public meetings, on social media and over the radio waves.”
“We are delighted to have Niall as our candidate for Galway West for the next general election. He is a dedicated and tireless activist who offers a strong voice and vision for change in the community.“Niall and his team bring real enthusiasm and ambition to our movement to build a social democratic republic based on the values of fairness, equality, growth and sustainability.“I know Niall to be a person with great energy and integrity – in particular his deep knowledge and experience in the area of healthcare makes him a powerful advocate for reforms to build a fair and efficient health system of which we can be proud.”
“We’re delighted to have Niall Ó Tuathail stand again in Galway West, he has the drive to fight inequality and extensive experience in healthcare reform, we need more candidates of his calibre to truly represent the people of the West. Niall has inspired a diverse, proactive group of volunteers to join the team and our performance in the last General Election showed that there is a huge appetite for change amongst voters. We are already building and growing a grassroots movement based on that support base and are hoping to have a newly elected Social Democrat TD after the next General Election. If you would like to get involved in the campaign please email [email protected]“
Galway’s public health services are on the medical equivalent of a life support machine. The A&E department of University Hospital Galway is so over-run that it is asking people not to come this week. People are tragically ending up in the Corrib due to lack of access to mental health services. Those with dementia are picking up infectious diseases while stuck in hospital beds that cost the HSE over 10,000 euro per month, preventable with a modest investment in their homes and home care packages. On a daily basis, patients and their families travel from all over the West of Ireland to an overloaded Galway hospital to receive basic healthcare that doesn’t need to be administered in a hospital environment. To add insult to injury, up-front charges for GPs and A&E, as well as the cost of health insurance are spiraling upwards, adding to already strained family budgets.
Unfortunately, this outcome was predictable from the early 1950s when Ireland took a different path to a post-war Britain that launched the National Health Service (NHS). While the modern NHS has its problems, it is still an excellent publicly-run health system that is financed by income taxes rather than charging people for care when they need it. It is a little known fact that the Irish government of the day almost took the same approach, but it was fought by the Department of Finance who said we couldn’t afford it, and by the Church which feared losing control of the hospitals. It turns out that we couldn’t afford not to build an Irish NHS we are now paying the cost of that decision with an expensive and unfair health service that has cost taxpayers unnecessary billions and, more importantly, unnecessarily cost our people healthy years on this earth with their loved ones.
A Chinese proverb goes that that the best time to plant a tree was decades ago and the second best time is today.
This week, the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, chaired by my Social Democrats colleague Róisín Shortall TD, published Sláintecare – the first coherent, long term plan in the history of the state that has cross-political support. The ambitious ten-year plan would see us get the majority of our healthcare (such as diabetes, COPD, dialysis appointments as well as minor injuries, blood tests and scans) from our GPs, small community clinics and primary care centres. All evidence shows that this will improve people’s health and will be more convenient, as services will be delivered to all closer to home. The plan would also ensure that at least 10% of Ireland’s healthcare budget will be invested in mental health, an area with huge need for expanded services.
What could this mean in practice for people in Galway? It won’t solve our issues overnight, but as the proposed upfront investment hits the ground, waiting lists would begin getting shorter. New GP clinics and primary care centres with a broad range of services would be set up all over the county. Your local health centre would see increases in staffing levels and opening hours. Primary and community care teams would be strengthened – that would improve your access to public health nurses, counselors, eye doctors, speech and language therapists, dentists and home care assistants. In the NHS, where I work on health reform, we are even safely providing minor surgery and chemotherapy in the community.
Galway hospital would get much needed investment and refurbishment, and this plan could end the debate on Merlin Park. The question isn’t whether a brand new hospital, if fully staffed, would benefit Galway. The answer to that is obviously yes. The real question is what is the best way to spend limited money to improve the health of Galwegians, and the direction from Sláintecare – and also the direction we are taking in the NHS – would suggest that strengthening primary care is the best thing to do for people’s health and the best way to take pressure off hospitals.
Speaking of money, how would this impact your pocket? There is no question that we need to make an upfront investment to make this work, and the next few budgets would need to prioritise healthcare over tax cuts, something politicians will have to discuss honestly with the electorate. The direct costs of health – admission charges, GP charges, prescription charges – would go down, and many families should feel comfortable giving up their health insurance as services improve.
The measures outlined in the report will eventually save money. For every euro we invest in primary care, we save multiples of that due to avoided hospital admissions and the fact that the same treatment is being given by less expensive staff in less expensive buildings. If we don’t make this investment and continue with an expensive hospital based system, costs will balloon out of control, people will die unnecessarily, and the differences between care provided to rich and poor will increase.
A report by itself changes nothing and the focus must move quickly to implementation. The committee see an implementation office being set up to make the plan a reality. I’ve been involved in similar implementation offices in the NHS and they do work very well if they are well-led, ruthless about priorities and make decisions based on evidence and data. This is a once in a generation opportunity to correct the mistake that was made in the 50s not to build a great public health service in Ireland. Let’s move forward and make it happen!
Niall Ó Tuathail was a recent general election candidate for the Social Democrats. He works with the English NHS on health reform.
First published in the Galway Advertiser
From a Galway Advertiser ‘Insider’ piece:
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael / Labour governments are known quantities – the civil service really run the country, using elected politicians as spokesmen (and it is usually men!), and change comes at a snail’s pace. Once one of them gets too big for their boots, we switch to the other and the cycle continues. As the current government argues that our choice is stability or chaos, we are at risk of returning to this tired formula in the next election, and for the foreseeable future.
Insider would argue that this “stability” also comes with risks – Fianna Fáil brought the country to its knees through cutting taxes and increasing spending while Fine Gael was calling from the sidelines for even lower taxes and even higher spending!
So what’s the alternative? The political left in Ireland is often written off as the “loony left” – well meaning, but unable to govern and not credible on the economy. This political narrative is unusual in Europe where there are typically large centre-left parties that lead governments. Galway West could lead the country in showing this is possible in Ireland – we are unique in having many credible centre-left candidates in Seamus Sheridan (Green Party), Niall Ó Tuathail (Social Democrats), Catherine Connolly (Independent) and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Féin).
Insider tries to divine what a resultant centre-left programme for government could look like, and how Galway’s candidates would represent this.
Our public services would be front and centre
A common belief across the left is that the basic public services – health, education, childcare & housing – should be mostly financed and run by government. How would team Galway contribute?
Niall Ó Tuathail has experience in major health reform in the NHS in England and has outlined detailed policy on how to fix the Irish health service. He also has former Health Minister Róisín Shortall as a party leader. Catherine Connolly is a clinical psychologist who has also spent many years challenging the local HSE leadership in her role as a Councillor.
Insider would argue that a smart investment in our public services would create a fairer society and is in everyone’s long-term interests – even those paying the most tax. For example, for every euro invested in primary care we save six euros in hospitals. This would be better for our health and better for our pockets.
This ticket would support Irish businesses
In politics, you are either pro-society or pro-business. Anyone outside of politics knows that to have a strong society, you need to have strong businesses. So how do Galway’s lefties stack up on business?
Seamus Sheridan is arguably the most credible business candidate in the country on business. He and his brother have built cheese empire Sheridan’s over the past few decades, employing over 100 people. Niall Ó Tuathail is more recently on the entrepreneurial path, setting up a software design firm working in healthcare and news. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Company, a prestigious consulting firm trusted for advice by CEOs and governments across the world.
With two TDs with real experience of starting businesses, Ireland could better support Irish businesses to get set up and improve our society by providing jobs, improving our quality of life with products and services, and paying taxes.
We would protect the most marginalised
The politics of the left argues that there is a minimum standard below which no person should have to live, and therefore aims to protect the most marginalised in society. What are the credentials of the Galway candidates on these issues?
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has a credible track record of raising the issues of traveller ethnicity, direct provision and campaigning for the survivors of state institutions in the Seanad. In the Council, Catherine Connolly has been outspoken on supporting domestic violence and single mothers. All four candidates canvassed for a Yes during the recent marriage referendum, with Ó Tuathail leading the Yes Equality campaign.
Our environment on the agenda
Storm Imogen was the ninth storm this year – an average of one every four days. This is not normal and Insider believes climate change must be tackled.
A Green TD like Seamus Sheridan in government would force the environment up the agenda – not just climate change but other local environmental issues such as large-scale fish farms and sustainable agriculture. Catherine Connolly has been a relentless campaigner against a new road for Galway, in favour of improving public transport first.
There would be grá for gaeilge
Depending on who you talk to, the Irish language is somewhere between on the edge of extinction and potentially on the cusp of a mini-revival. Wherever we are on this, most would agree the language needs some support to survive and thrive.
Three of our candidates – Ó Clochartaigh, Connolly and Ó Tuathail – are gaeilgeoirs, with Trevor being the Sinn Féin spokesman for the language and gaeltacht. With such a team in government, we would have strong advocates for our native tongue in the Dáil.
The catch – there won’t be massive tax cuts
There’s always a catch! With an emphasis on state-funded public service, such a government would not be able to promise the short-term tax cuts on offer from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.
What would Insider say to those who turn red looking at their paycheck each month? She would ask them to take the short-term pain for long-term gain. Investing smartly in our public services will reduce the long-term cost of the services and improve the value for money we get from our taxes. Supporting local businesses will provide employment and make our economy less dependent on multinationals. Protecting the most marginalised will allow us to create a more equal society that will be a source of pride and will reduce future costs for the state. Ireland playing a leading role in tackling climate change globally could secure our environment for future generations. Keeping our teanga beo will allow future generations the option of making it the main language on this island.
Galway West can lead the country in returning a majority of credible centre-left TDs with integrity and competence – Insider recommends we do it!
BY THE INSIDER Galway Advertiser, Thu, Nov 12, 2015
From Monday November 16, same-sex marriage will be legal and Insider is looking forward to attending the weddings of her friends in the LGBT community. This follows on from May’s referendum, where Insider voted a wholehearted Yes.
In the heat of the moment, there was much talk about a transformational shift in Irish politics and debate over which political party could harness the excitement about the vote. Not one to get herself carried away, Insider dismissed such grand talk at the time but does think there are four limited ways the political landscape has changed in Galway due to the referendum campaign.
Who benefits from Yes and No?
They say voting is addictive – once you vote for the first time, you keep coming back. The marriage referendum got many first-time voters on the register and had the largest turnout for a referenda in recent times. This high turnout was particularly true of working class and young voters – two groups often written off as non-voters by the established parties. They have now seen a positive impact from their vote instead of the perception of having to pick between “the best of a bad bunch” in a general election.
One of the biggest political shifts Insider foresees from the referendum is for working class and young voters to come out to vote again in large numbers in Election 2016. Insider would not expect this vote to be kind to the established parties and it could cause a shift to the left parties – Sinn Féin, AAA, PBP, and the Social Democrats. In practical terms, Insider believes this will cost the government parties a second seat in Galway West at the next election with just one Fine Gael TD returned.
While the No side lost convincingly, 38 per cent is still two full quotas. While the full 38 per cent will not leave their traditional parties because they campaigned for a Yes, committed social conservatives could rightly feel abandoned by the established parties with alternatives such as Renua also refusing to openly embrace them. In the absence of a Christian conservative party in Ireland, where will these votes go in Galway West?
While Fianna Fáil campaigned for a Yes vote, Dep Eamon Ó Cuív was never one to toe the party line and was notable by his absence during the campaign. His hometown of Cornamona was one of the few areas with a majority of No votes. Another clear message was sent to conservative voters during the Fianna Fáil selection convention as the only candidate Insider noticed campaigning for a Yes vote, Stephanie Murphy-Penn, was sidelined.
Also clearly angling for the No voter is former Fine Gael and now Independent senator Fidelma Healy-Eames. She initially flip-flopped saying in the Vincent Browne debate that she was “on the fence”, before publicly declaring her No vote, and she would hope to capture a significant amount of the conservative vote.
Independent TD Noel Grealish has the enviable political talent of appearing to be on all sides of a controversial issue and the marriage referendum was no exception! Insider would also expect him to do well from disaffected No voters.
Social Democrats’ serious contender in Galway West
Insider recognises a well-organised campaign when she sees one and was impressed to get a knock on her door a few weeks ago from a canvasser for Yes Equality organiser turned Social Democrats general election candidate Niall Ó Tuathail. He has also had high-profile support in town recently from party leaders Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall, and Stephen Donnelly.
Niall impressed many seasoned political heads with his campaigning skills during the marriage referendum, and is building on a track record of getting Stephen Donnelly elected to the current Dáil over a five-week campaign in 2011. He is also starting to get stuck into local issues, being very vocal on the Aer Arann fiasco.
The bookies now have Niall in joint sixth to take one of the five seats in Galway West. If he can reassemble a fraction of the Galway Yes team and if the Social Democrats gain traction in the media, Insider would agree he could take a seat and is likely to play a role in Galway politics for the foreseeable future.
Galway East and socially liberal candidates
Galway East, home to No side spokesman, Independent seantor Rónán Mullen, has long been the bookies’ favourite for the largest No vote in any social issue referendum. This reputation was turned on its head in the marriage referendum with a solid Yes vote.
As a result, the public views of Galway East’s politicians now look archaic. This was painfully evident on Vincent Browne’s People’s Debate where all four incumbent TDs went quiet when put on the spot and asked their position on the 8th Amendment. Insider has discussed the 8th Amendment with many politicians who privately have no problem with repeal but brush off a referendum in fear of alienating voters. With an opinion poll showing that a majority of farmers are now in favour of the repeal of the 8th Amendment, Insider expects them to do the maths on the impact for their vote and follow that up with some contrived public soul searching.
While it may take another election cycle for this shift to translate into a more liberal TD returned from Galway East, the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael stranglehold on the constituency is becoming wide open to challenge. With Sinn Féin now backing repeal of the 8th Amendment, Insider expects Anne Marie Roche to be the most likely beneficiary of this and she could well win a seat come 2016.
Galway is in a housing crisis, and it is at its worst when our student population returns for the start of term and struggle to get accommodation. At the same time, homeowners with spare rooms may want some extra cash during term time to help pay the mortgage but are worried about tax or paperwork implications when it is actually tax-free and relatively straightforward.
We want to do our bit for Galway by getting more rooms on the market – this will benefit students and homeowners. Please have a look at this simple 3-step guide below and get in touch if we can help you to get your room on the market (e.g., with Daft posting, drafting a lodger agreement, etc.).
There are three steps to getting money for your spare room:
- Decide whether having a lodger in your home is right for you and your family
- Take photos of the room and post it on www.daft.ie
- Interview people you like and make a written agreement
1. Decide whether having a lodger in your home is right for you
If you have never had lodgers in your home before, it can be a big decision. There is some good discussion of the pros and cons at http://www.lodgersite.com/. If you are worried about the tax or paperwork implications, it is actually quite easy. The income is tax-free for most lodger situations (up to 12,000 euros per year tax-free – most digs in Galway are between 300-600 euros / month) and you don’t need to register with the PRTB (More on this here).
2. Take photos of the room and post it on www.daft.ie
Once you have decided to go for it, take some nice photos of the room and house and post it to Daft (it’s Free). The link is here.
3. Interview people you like and make a written agreement
If your price is reasonable, you should have lodgers e-mailing and phoning to see the room. When they come, make sure you ask enough good questions to be comfortable the person is right to live in your home. As a starter, there are some questions here. While you don’t need a legal agreement, and you are entitled to ask the tenant to leave with “reasonable notice”, it is always worth having a written agreement with the tenant and use this as an opportunity to discuss the expectations both of you have for how the arrangement will work.
We hope this has been helpful. If you want to discuss this further, or need our help to get you set up, please give us a call on 083-4556957 and one of our volunteers can help you get set up!