INDEPENDENT TD Matt Shanahan says that his support for the Government is “conditional” and cannot be relied upon
IN recent weeks, Deputy Shanahan has received criticism from the likes of David Cullinane for voting with the Government on a number of key issues, prompting the Sinn Féin TD to call him a “Government Supporter, anything but Independent”.
The Waterford News & Star caught up with the Butlerstown native this week to find out exactly what he’s been doing since he was elected in February and what his intentions were for this Government, and most importantly for the people of Waterford.
“From my first day in Dáil Éireann, I have signalled my desire to see equity and fairness in the policies of Government and most especially in the treatment of Waterford city and county,” Deputy Shanahan said.
“I supported the formation of Government because I believe it is in the best interests of the country that we have functioning government. This support has afforded me some political access that has allowed me to ‘deliver’ to some degree.”
When asked about what these “deliveries” were, and why the people of Waterford didn’t know too much about them, Matt replied that his priority for the moment “wasn’t PR, but getting the job done.”
“Some of the things that I have have achieved in the past few months include securing the reopening of Cartamundi Waterford during the lockdown, which secured hundreds of jobs,” he said.
“I submitted a number of suggestions to NPHET, which were implemented, regarding testing practices and laboratory use to nursing homes. This was acknowledged by my selection to National Covid committee.”
Matt says he also helped secure the return of Irish citizens who were stranded at sea in the US during the lockdown for over 50 days. He admits though, that his biggest challenge is what his election result was built on – securing 24/7 cardiac care for Waterford.
“Despite the political access that I have secured in my short time in the Dáil I have to signal that I, as yet, cannot discern a significant step change in the treatment of Waterford target areas between this Government and the last!” he said. “Our expanded cardiac services and promised new Cath lab delivery remain trapped in bureaucracy. The development of WIT and our third level educational component is not progressing at any discernible rate and the recent choice of Government appointed facilitator was not of adequate independence.”
Deputy Shanahan said that he continues to be “furious” about how developments such as the college and the North Quays “continue to await funding while other projects are being fast tracked”.
“The recent announcements of financial supports to SMEs are also not of the breath or scale that I believe are necessary to save many of our Covid impacted regional and rural businesses,” he said.
“I believe Government must do significantly more in the future to secure our rural and regional economy and culture. I believe the issues of Waterford are not unique in this country but the ongoing obstruction to political delivery is! As the Dáil returns this week these are areas that I wish to see significant progress on. The abject failure to date to support Waterford as a key regional economic enabler must change. Without tangible progress and delivery on previous political promises to Waterford and without equitable policy change, my qualified support to this government and its policies, which have been conditional to date cannot continue to be relied upon.”
Matt Shanahan acknowledged that he knew that the eyes of Waterford were on him but that would “continue to fight and advocate for the rights of citizens in Waterford city and county.”