What have the Anti-War Protestors Ever Done for Galway?

Photo: Galway City Mayor Councillor Tom Costello addressing the Anti-Salthill Airshow protest in Summer 2007

Over the last few months Michael Crowe, an auctioneer and former independent councillor who recently joined Fianna Fáil, has taken it upon himself to try and relaunch the controversial Salthill Airshow famed for its display of US military airplanes.
In so doing , he has launched a series of blistering attacks on the Galway Alliance Against War(GAAW) condemning its members as a bunch of 'lunatics' and professional complainers who have never really done anything constructive in their lives.
I got fed up with hearing and reading these lies and standard cliches being made against individuals whom I have admired for their idealistic committment to others but who have also contributed in their professional lives to greatly enhancing the image of Galway. So I decided to put the record straight by submitting the following letter to the 'Galway Advertiser' prior to Christmas:

Dear Editor,
I was saddened at the comments made by Councillor Michael Crowe in last week’s Galway Advertiser when he disparagingly condemned the anti-war movement as nothing more than a “…rent-a-crowd brigade… who if they don’t like which way the sun comes up stick up a few posters…go out protesting…”
He then asks what have these people “…ever done for the city?…”
Well outside the important element of having the moral courage to increase public awareness about the glorification by the Salthill Air Show of war machines and an air force that has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in illegal wars over the last few decades, quite a lot really.
For example, the literary works of Rita Ann Higgins and Fred Johnston are respected worldwide and their efforts have helped establish our city as a mecca for creative writing. Author and broadcaster Padraic Breathnach co-founded Macnas which, with his many other pioneering endeavours over the last thirty years, earned Galway the accolade of being the nation’s cultural capital. Other seasoned locally-based American pacifist campaigners such as technologist Doug Foxvoug and stain-glass designer Richard Kimball are recognised globally as experts in their own career areas who have greatly benefited their adopted homeland and its citizenry.
It will be a long time before people such as Councillor Crowe or myself come anywhere close to enhancing the reputation of the city as these visionary luminaries have done.

It is also very strange to condemn these peace activists as ‘lunatics’. Especially at this time of year when we celebrate the Christmas message of ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all men’.

Finally, I would ask the Michael to familiarise himself with the history of the political party that he has recently joined. Its founder Eamon DeValera would never agree with the councillor’s recommendation to campaigners that they should “…make their views known…and (then) leave it…”. Dev was a committed international campaigner against injustice, who never gave up the struggle and warned against small nations being sucked into imperial wars of aggression that were disingenuously portrayed by their protagonists as crusades for freedom and democracy.

Check out my previous postings on the Salthill Airshow:
Galway Businesses Glorify Terrorist Bombers
Sights & Sounds of US Bombers Re-awaken Fears in Galway

A Jesus in today’s Palestine

This is the text of one of my letters that appeared in local Galway newspapers just after Christmas. It sadly portrays I believe the evil that exists masquerading on one side as "Allah or God's Will" and the other as "Defense of Democracy & Western Values" in a county known ironically as the 'Holy Land'.

Could the story of the Nativity happen today in Palestine? Unlikely.

For would a poor young unmarried teenage girl in the West Bank, who had just announced that she was pregnant, not become a victim of male ‘honour’?
Even if she did survive, she and her new husband would have found it extremely difficult to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to road-blocks and travel restrictions placed on local inhabitants by the occupying Israeli military; the shepherds would have probably lost their grazing lands to compulsory acquisition for the erection of the ‘Security Wall’ and Jewish colonial settlements and the three wise men from Iraq (Mesopotamia) would have being denied entry visas.
But even if the birth did manage to occur in Bethlehem, Israeli military border controls would have probably barred Mary’s family from crossing into Egypt to escape religious persecution thus sealing their faith.
Yet there is no doubt that an adult Jesus of the New Testament and of a modern Middle East would have ended their lives in a similar terrible fashion. For anyone preaching a message of peace and love, a call for people’s liberation from poverty and oppression, of respect for all races and creeds, of freedom for prisoners and an end to the oppression of women, would have made himself both an enemy of the state and of a religious fundamentalism that preaches intolerance towards non-believers and death to all blasphemers.
Yes, death would have come either from an American-made laser guided missile or from execution by a death squad after the customary gruesome torture.

'Green Lungs of the City' to be Punctured by Major Road Construction as Huge Grassroots Campaign Gets Underway

A beautiful river and forest park near the centre of Galway City is under threat from a major road development that will destroy an emerging 'ecological corridor' in a parkland officially dubbed the 'Green Lungs of the City'.
But thankfully thousands of Galwegians are rallying behind a grassroots group known as the 'Friends of the Forest' who are spearheading a campaign to stop the road construction, save important wildlife habitats and re-energise a park that has sadly falling into serious decline but was only a few short years ago recognised nationwide as a major pioneering initiative in
community-local government partnership.
It is unbelievable that a City Council, beset by internal infighting and suffering from a serious loss of public trust over the last few years due to its failure to keep by its public promises and implement a range of progressive policies on public transport, cycling/pedestrian infrastructure, provision of neighbourhood centres/recreational facilities, overcoming urban sprawl, tackling rising social crime and pollution, could consider such a regressive move.
Yet this is exactly what is being proposed in plans to terminally undermine one of the last great unspoilt city landscapes along the banks of the River Corrib.
So I have set up an Information website for Friends of the Forest to relay our message to the world on why the people of Galway must defeat plans to invade a vital green sanctuary with concrete and tarmac in what is our equivalent of the battle to stop the destruction of the tropical rainforests.
Click here
You can also sign our Petition that will be presented to Galway City Council in April requesting them to halt the road development, re-commence the annual public participation events and act on the Park's vision of creating a wonderful mix of recreational facilities and natural habitats.