Tuesday, April 06, 2021

The soon to be replaced Mortuary at UHW.

IT is hard to fathom that the official review into conditions at University Hospital Waterford’s Mortuary – conditions revealed by this newspaper – remains unpublished.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been legitimately cited in relation to matters that have not proceeded as anticipated prior to March 2020 but such a potential excuse doesn’t stack up when it comes to the mortuary.

The Waterford News & Star has been told by the HSE that this independent review is in “its final stages of preparation” and that it expects the review document to be “finalised shortly”. The key details sought by reporter Darren Skelton last week – a potential date for the report’s publication – remains publicly undetermined. That simply isn’t good enough.

Given all the restrictions that the general public has had to endure over the past year, one can understand why the outrage in relation to the Mortuary has somewhat subsided in the interim.

But it is worth reminding one’s self of the appalling scenes within the Mortuary that this newspaper was informed of upon breaking the story, later described as “macabre” by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

A simple recall of this investigation’s timeline is worth emphasising this week. In May 2019, then Health Minister Simon Harris said that a review of conditions at the Mortuary was required.

The second anniversary of that declaration is now approaching. Minister Haris said the review would be published on September 19, 2019. But here we are in April 2021 and there’s still no sign of the review. While the thought of a review sitting in a file pales in comparison to that of a body on a trolley in a corridor, the optics of both are difficult to avoid in the context of this inexplicable delay. We have asked questions previously when it comes to this incredibly sensitive and upsetting matter. We will not shy from posing them again.

Whiskey maturation plant gets green light

NEWS of planning approval for the development of a substantial whiskey maturation plant at the Waterford Airport Business Park represents a huge vote of confidence in the ongoing development of the industry’s regional strength.

Wexford-based Stafford Bonded, a family business which deals in the bond storage and brokerage of wines, beers and spirits, will build eight new maturation facilities in the initial phase of a considerable building project at Ballygarran.

The company, which counts the Waterford Distillery among its clients, ultimately aims to deliver 38 warehouses of varying sizes at Ballygarran with the total development upon completion valued at €57 million.

Outside of Life Sciences, Biopharma and Dairy Processing, the days of new factory openings delivering several hundred jobs for our urban areas and their environs are increasingly rare.

The expansion of industries such as the spirits trade, once considered niche, reaching the point where the Ballygarran plant is projected to employ 70 staff within five years, provides another blueprint for growth.

The success of NearForm in Tramore and Agora in Portlaw illustrate local economic boons which Waterford can proudly point to would-be employers. And with the Ballygarran expansion now added to the list, the city and county’s suitability to host diverse employment offerings continues to deepen. And we can all drink to that.

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