Bradley Bytes: A Kind of Political Column with Dara Bradley
Galway City Councilor Alan Cheevers (FF) incited the Galway cycling campaign when he challenged them to run for council election.
The City East representative’s outburst on social media summed up the general attitude some councilors have toward campaigning cyclists: “If you think you could do better, then go get elected.”
They’re not just Cheesy Cheevers. Many other city council members privately believe that these activists should put their names on a ballot sheet.
However, a ‘cycling candidate’ in 2024 seems unlikely. Especially since only a small proportion of the electorate will vote on the single issue of cycling infrastructure and road safety when choosing who will represent them on Galway City Council.
And also because many current councilors (think Colette Connolly, Owen Hanley, Martina O’Connor, Niall Murphy and others) already attract support from the bike lobby, while offering a broader political agenda.
However, a Galway Cycling Campaign candidate could still emerge next year.
And part of the reason Cheevers and others claimed the cycling campaign was too focused on Salthill (cycling on the East Side “wasn’t sexy enough”, as Cheesy Cheevers put it), was because sitting councilors in City West they believe their seats may be targeted by a cycling candidate in Salthill/Knocknacarra.
Incumbent councilors believed that the Promenade bike lane campaign was used as a weapon to galvanize support not only for the bike lane, but also for a local pro-cycling electoral candidate.
That could be overkill. And, if true, it proved quite counterproductive for cyclists with political ambitions. But the Galway Cycling Campaign has a number of individuals who would not look out of place on a ballot paper.
Kevin Jennings, president of the Galway Cycling Campaign, is an obvious candidate.
Some in the cycling campaign are militant, with tunnel vision. Jennings is not one of them, and if he is, he hides it well, and is perceived as more ‘appetizing’ to a broader constituency.
Public relations officer Martina Callanan is an astute media operator, particularly on the radio. She was previously courted by a political party and could be persuaded to ride under a ‘cycling flag’ in 2024.
Another ‘friendly face’ among the cycling community who could throw her hat into the ring is Gráinne Faller. Another savvy media operator, mother and businesswoman, she instigated Sundays 4 Safety, a political protest, with a small ‘p’, calling for greater road safety for all users. Her weekly meetings prove that she can call on a small army of pollsters.
Shane Foran, who, as reported here recently, was involved in a public feud with Jennings, doesn’t appear to be interested in electoral politics, but he is one of the names that is mentioned as a possibility from time to time.
Others who could fit the bill include Oisín Ó Niadh and Eibhlín Seoighthe, although interest in cycling and politics does not necessarily translate into becoming an electoral candidate.
Many of the potential candidates have somewhat off-putting personalities on Twitter and social media that don’t necessarily match their actual real-life personalities. They will have to find a hitherto hidden pragmatism and be willing to compromise, if they manage to enter the corridors of power in City Hall.
(Photo: Gráinne Faller, a savvy media operative who instigated the Sundays 4 Safety protest, calling for greater safety for all road users. Those weekly meetings show that she could summon a small army of pollsters if she decided to stand for election local. ).
This is an abbreviated preview version of this column. For more Bradley bytes, check out the November 18 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.