Volvo Boat Race- A Great Event that United All Galwegians! That is until The 'Red Arrows' were Invited

Everyone involved in organising Galway's participation in the Volvo Boat Race deserves a medal!
Not since the glory days of the Galway Arts Festival in the 1980s, when the city first gained the label of being Ireland's cultural capital thanks to such pioneering concepts as the Macnas street theatre and parade, has so much positive national and international exposure being secured for Galway.
The carnival atmosphere has been infectious. The weather glorious. The total transformation of the docklands from being an unattractive sterile backwater handling a few oil tanker ships and ignored by most Galwegians into a vibrant quarter of outdoor cafes, concert stages, exhibition halls, circus tents and a huge marina populated by hundreds of pleasure boats and yachts has been spectacular.
To see Galway Bay overflowing with racing boats of all shapes and sizes has lifted citizens out of the doldrums of depression caused by the country's recent recession (at least for 2 weeks!).
So many local people volunteered their time and efforts to help the Race become a huge success. I myself took part for 2 days in cleaning up the beaches of Galway in advance of the arrival of the participating boats. I also coordinated the involvement of 12 schools in a project designed to increase young people's awareness of the scientific, environmental, wildlife, pollution, angling, energy and recreational aspects of Ireland's seas, rivers and lakes.
The Race has fostered a sense of community, bonding and togetherness amongst the local population.The legacy of this inaugural boating race could be highly beneficial to the city. In particular, the event shows the potential for creating a marina in the docks area and turning the focus of the city's development, tourism, the economy and leisure back towards the sea for the first time since the early 20th century.

But sadly two things associated with the Boat Race Festival have left a bad taste in some of our mouths. First there was the even worse traffic jams than usual over the last few weeks. Galway City Council is overdependent on private cars as the primary mode of transport. It has failed to implement policies adopted in early 2002 designed to establish an integrated transport system by developing a walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure.
Secondly, the participation of the RAF Red Arrows in the event re-awakened old animosities from 2 years ago between the Salthill Air Show and supporters of the Galway Alliance Against War(GAAW) who publicly campaigned against the Iraqi War.
Why the organisers invited this RAF showpiece defies explanation. While I have participated in many events associated with the Volvo Boat Ace, I will also be involved in the GAAW protest this weekend against the Red Arrows

2 comments:

Fred said...

Well said. I think the Red Arrows' involvement was a mistake, and provocative; the statements of Cllr Michael Crowe to the City Tribune last Friday, about how GAAW protestors should be 'run out of town' was well out of line and did nothing for the city's image - or for Fianna Fáil's come to that. I feel quite sure that there is an underlying plan to have the Salthill Airshow resurface at a future date. Rather than ethical considerations, I think the organisers have an eye more to insurance costs. It's all about money and making money and ethics and a sense of conscience appear not to have any place in this scheme of things. Fred Johnston.

Brendan Smith aka Speedie said...

Thanks for your comments Fred! I totally concur with your sentiments regarding the real reason behind the Red Arrows involvement. Likewise your highlighting of Michael Crowe's comments is spot on- his opinions are totally inflammatory.

Bu the way, nice letter in the Tribune questioning the authenticity of the city's new Latin Quarter.