Tuesday, September 10, 2019

‘Waterford’s case was certainly not helped by the poor attendance for his visit to Waterford City and County Council, where a mere 10 of our 32 public representatives turned up.’

 

TWO of our foremost politicians were in the county last week, yet as the Waterford News & Star went to print we could be no more confident that key Waterford projects will be honoured and supported at Government level, in particular the North Quays development.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, who holds the crucial public purse strings, was delicate in his words, and despite offering certain positive platitudes, was non-committal in further substantive funding for the North Quays being guaranteed.

Waterford’s case was certainly not helped by the poor attendance for his visit to Waterford City and County Council, where a mere 10 of our 32 public representatives turned up. Michael Walsh, Council CEO, pitched hard on Waterford’s behalf, but it is hard to send the message that we are serious about what we need in Waterford if we are not in the room for the discussions.

Minister Donohoe’s visit could be equated to a management meeting with the MD in a private sector context. While it is understandable that councillors face challenges juggling their civic duties with jobs and daily life, there are some meetings that you just don’t miss.

Meanwhile, during a visit to the west of the county, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was critical of the lack of progress on the Technological University for the South East. Hearing frustration from the Taoiseach in relation to our educational deficit and recognition from him of the difference that makes to our economic progress is something, though the lack of comparative support for Waterford Institute of Technology by successive governments means it also rings relatively hollow.

At this stage for Waterford, no matter how many high profile political visits take place, it is only actions that matter, not words.

 

Harvesting happiness

IT’S estimated that approximately 65,000 people walked the streets of Waterford this year for the 11th annual Harvest Festival. This is an event that Waterford Council deserve enormous credit for sticking with after some turbulent early years that attracted criticism for using outside promotors and having overpriced market stalls.

Previous Harvest Festivals also went over budget and never really knew where they belonged within the City Walls. The Quay didn’t work, Bolton Street was too out of the way and the Mall wreaked havoc with the city’s traffic network.

In recent years however, with director Tommie Ryan and events company Every Event at the helm, the festival has grown, and more importantly, learned from its previous mistakes. Having the event in the city centre was, in essence, like giving the festival back to the people. There was a palpable feeling that the city was alive last weekend, something that hasn’t been felt in a really long time. The stalls were busy, but just as importantly, the surrounding shops, restaurants and cafes were busy as well. As reporter Darren Skelton wrote in his analysis of the event, any visitors to Waterford this weekend could be forgiven for thinking that they had just stumbled onto the best kept secret of Irish tourism. Waterford was awoken by food this weekend, and maybe that’s where it needs to look to for its next big brand. After all, what other county has two food festivals (Dungarvan and Harvest), a powerful food initiative (Food the Waterford Way) and a national award in the bag (Best Foodie Destination 2019) – maybe the best way to the economy’s heart is through its stomach!

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