REGIONAL politics doesn’t marry well with Waterford, but, for the moment, common sense has prevailed in the decision to site the Garda Síochana Divisional HQ for Waterford, Kilkenny and Carlow in the region’s pivotal city.
That this was even up for discussion is concerning – and there is no question but that it was. Fine Gael has tried to suggest this was merely scaremongering, but Garda sources emphatically indicated otherwise.
Political pressure was brought to bear, in this case rightly so, to ensure the largest Garda division in the South East – Waterford – would be the home of the divisional HQ. No one politician spearheaded this retention campaign – and indeed cross party unity, both at Oireachtas and local authority level, played a crucial role.
As we went to print there was some confusion – thanks to a Garda press release issued last week – over whether the divisional Chief Superintendent would be based in Kilkenny or Waterford, but clarification came from the Garda Press Office yesterday evening that each region will have a Regional Chief Superintendent separate to the Divisional Chief Superintendent.
In the case of the eastern region, which encompasses Waterford, Kilkenny and Carlow, as well as Meath, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Wexford and Wicklow, the regional chief superintendent will be based in Kilkenny. The Waterford/Kilkenny/Carlow divisional chief superintendent will be in Waterford. The latter is vital to Waterford and now a matter of record.
This of course is only the beginning of extensive change in the management of policing in the South East and Waterford. The divisional headquarters, based in Waterford, will be tasked with a huge area of responsibility that extends to the far reaches of Carlow and Kilkenny, as well as catering to Waterford’s diverse policing needs. Much criticism has followed Garda Station closures in rural areas, and this week Portlaw residents will hold a public meeting to discuss concerns they have at a spate of recent criminal activity in the village and surrounds.
Ultimately, the public must have faith in policing – that continues to work best where strong, community links are maintained between the Gardaí and the areas they serve. The decision to maintain the divisional HQ in Waterford is, at least, a step in the right direction.
Hospital at breaking point
Time after time the Waterford News & Star has highlighted injustices of health care involving Waterford people. This week, devastatingly, we publish the story of a sick man who was sent home from a hospital creaking at the seams. He is now dead. There is no way of sugar-coating this case or the dire conditions staff in University Hospital Waterford are working under. Decisions are being made around people who are seriously ill, based upon a chronic shortage of resources.
Our regional hospital should offer the best chance at survival for all of our people, not some sort of Russian roulette health care, the quality of which changes week after week as the Emergency Department struggles, the ‘9-5 Monday to Friday’ cath lab equipment breaks down yet again and the quantity of people on trolleys mounts up.
Meanwhile, the sparkling new Dunmore Wing of the hospital lies resplendent – and empty. Where’s the consolation for those heartbroken and bereft at the loss of their loved one?