I find it absolutely extraordinary that a document of this nature can exist and exclude one city only. Waterford. Has Waterford City been downgraded by this Government? It would sure explain the lack of movement on the University issue. It would explain why the Government walked away from Waterford Crsytal. It would exlpain why we're on the hind tit for all and every type of investment. It would explain how the Tánaiste can come in to our city and say that the loss of Waterford Crystal is "no big deal" and why she's "not convinced" about the University arguement.
The report issued by the National Competitiveness Council states that "ensuring the long-term economic and social vibrancy of our main cities through the provision of targeted supports is essential for national and regional competitiveness". Is Waterford to be denied these targeted supports? Is the South East? The report recommends the prioritising of investment in the "Atlantic Corridor" which it describes as Galway-Limerick-Cork and the Belfast-Dublin Corridor. So it seems that the answer, as far as the recommendation of the National Competitiveness Council goes, is yes, we are to be denied that investment.
The Government is shortly to review and 'refresh' the National Spatial Strategy which was developed in 2002 and which sought to "build up a critical mass in a small number of large urban centres to enable them to drive growth in their wider regions". We must be alert to ensuring that Waterfords' designation as a Gateway City is not diluted in that review. Reports like this one give me cause to suspect that the Government is not serious about Waterfords' future.
We must let organisations like the National Competitiveness Council know that we will not accept their downgrading. They have, with one swoop, completely ignored the development of the South East region with a population of almost half a million people. It is absolutley crucial that Waterford gets the investment it needs in order to drive the economic growth of this region.
The report for anyone who is interested can be accessed at http://www.competitiveness.ie/publications/featuredpublications/title,3953,en.php