Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oh Mary (Coughlan)! Why Don't You Get Some Sense?

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan was in Waterford on Friday of last week displaying in a very clear manner, the arrogance that has come to characterise Fianna Fáil in recent years and months. When asked, at the 'Innovate to Compete' conference in the Tower Hotel about the designation of WIT as a University, the Tánaiste admitted, that despite the advice of her IDA experts and officials to the contrary, she "doesn't necessarily agree with that strategy".

So, the people who are out all day every day fighting for Investment in Ireland and the South East, don't know what they are talking about when they tell her that "one of the reasons anyone would invest is if the area has a University", don't know what they are talking about. Minister knows better.

But the truth of the matter became evident when the Minister went on to state that Letterkenny wants a University! Letterkenny is a small town with an Institute of Technology in the Ministers own constituency. Letterkenny has not, nor ever has, applied for University status. But the Minister is prepared to sacrifice the futures of all of us here in Waterford and the South East and our children, despite the evidence, to quell any noises of discontent back home in Letterkenny. Despite the advice of her own IDA officials on the ground, and indeed every Industry Chief here in the region.

Is this an example of the spurious basis on which Government and Cabinet decisions are being made in this Country. Ministers are paralysed to act, even to fulfil their own Ministerial brief, even in the face of the best advice.

Minister Coughlan needs to realise that her brief is for Enterprise development in the entire State and not to keep the rest of us down so that Letterkenny won't be upset. Cork and Dublin IT's who have both written brief letters seeking designation (without any other documentation or work) are both located in areas which are already well served with Universities. Waterford uniquely has not - although the Port Report which was commissioned by the Government states that WIT is 'operating at University level' and that the case for designation deserves to be addressed by the Government.

Every independent assessment has said the same thing. But no matter. No matter what the case, or how pressing the argument, it seems that we are going to be denied by this Government because Letterkenny (which, remember, has never applied) might be unhappy. Or as the Tánaiste herself might prefer to put it: I know better than everyone.

Well, for the record, I can tell the Tánaiste and the Government that WIT is not going away and that we will not accept anything less than a University for Waterford and for this region. The IDA clearly knows we need it. In fact the dogs on the street know we need it. When will the Tánaiste and the Government realise that they don't know better than everyone else?

The sooner there's a General Election and this Government step aside a let someone else get their hand on the tiller, the better. For all our sakes. They're too arrogant. Too far removed from the rest of us. Too long in power.
And the photo? A bucketful of nothing! Just like what the Minister brought us last week!

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