Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reassurances from FG locally on University

I note in a comment to my earlier blog and indeed in the local press, Senator Paudie Coffey (pictured above) has expressed his unhappiness with my blog last week concerning Fine Gael leader Enda Kennys comment on the designation of WIT as a University.

Enda said that (and I'm paraphrasing) once in government they would trigger a mechanism to have the case for WITs designation as a University examined. Now this seemed to me - and many others - to be a clawing back of the previously stated and much heralded (locally) policy adopted by Fine Gael, that if in Government, they would designate WIT as a university.

I gather from the statements by both Senator Coffey and Senator Maurice Cummins, that this policy has not changed. That being so, then I have to ask why Enda was so ambiguous in his statement which clearly in my opinion sent out the wrong message.

However I do accept Senator Coffeys assertion and I must add, in fact that I have the greatest of admiration for Paudie and in my opinion he would make a most able TD for this constituency. Paudie is very clued in on local issues, very vocal, very pro-active and articulates his message very clearly.

So while I am happy to accept that the FG policy has not changed I wonder why then Enda sent such a weak message? Clearly - and some of the history is fairly laid out by Senator Cummins in his letter to the News & Star this week - we have been led a merry dance on this issue for many a long year and not entirely by Fianna Fail either it must be said.

That being said, due to much lobbying locally, FG did adopt the designation of WIT as Party Policy. For it to actually proceed though, it would have to make it into a Programme for Government post the next election (assuming as predicted that FG are part of that Government), which one must be hopeful for considering that the Labour Party also claim to support this designation.

Although it will be recalled that the move from WRTC to WIT by a FG/Lab coalition did not exactly deliver what we all were led to believe that it would at the time but we won't re-hash old arguments. Let us hope that the FG and Labour TD's locally and their parties nationally mean what they say and that what they say is what we all understand it to mean; namely that WIT will be designated as a University with the autonomy, branding and finance that that designation brings and that there will not be another fudge as there was the last time which effectively tried to please everyone and ended up pleasing no-one!

Finally I make no apology for having a finely tuned antenna on this issue. Yes, I am uber-sensitive about it and why wouldn't I be? A University is the crucial piece of regional infrastructure that the South East desperately needs in our efforts to end the educational and jobs apartheid that we have suffered for decades. We have been messed about on it several times over many years - for much longer than I am involved - and anywhere I see a threat or potential threat or any ambiguity, I will call it.

That being said, the biggest threat of all comes from our lackadaisical current Government which has placed obstacle after obstacle in the way of WITs just claim for University status. They have yet to produce the report from the Strategy Group for Higher Education. I hear now that the report will be with the Minister by the end of the month and will not be published until September.

We await its deliberations with bated breath and hope that it will not merely provide the government with further cover to both do nothing and extend the time before which we will have our University.

However I do not wish to be negative in advance of knowing its contents so until we see it (or hear the leaks) I can but express the desire that they have been convinced, as were the many International experts who examined our case, of the validity of WITs claims for University status.

As Dr Jim Port put it (the Governments own appointed expert) "WIT is already operating at University level". We all know it. Will our work be rewarded? Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Is Enda On About - Massive About Turn on WIT

What the hell is Enda up to? Up to the weekend before last he and his party were committed to the designation of WIT as a University. Then I hear on radio during the week how he will, when in government trigger an examination of that question (or some such other jibberish but you get the gerneral jist of it)!

Now that's what happens when a party leader in weakened. He is now prey to the whims and parochial preferences of those who 'saw him over the line' in the recent leadership heave. And no one did that moreso than the man known as 'big Phil'. Deputy Phil Hogan of our neighbouring parish of Kilkenny who is well known to be anti anything Waterford. And who was Endas right hand man in the battle which saw him save his leadership - and to whom he is now obviously beholden???? Cue bactracking on giving Waterford City University status. If its not enough to make your blood boil and detest politics then I don't know what is.

So is this what we have to look forward to if and when Fine Gael come into power? Enda, giving in to every local yokel who supported him on the promise of either promotion or preferential treatment? Government by gombeen men!

The change in Endas position on University status for Waterford would indicate that it is indeed so.

In that case, the sooner the majority of his Dail colleagues who already voted against him and who see him as weak dispose of him altogether, the better. We need a strong, principled leader with vision and not one who is compromised by 'owing' everybody!

At least John Deasy, to be fair to him, is being honest about whats going on and not blathering the obvious lie that all is now happy clappy in FG-land!

Well, the fight goes on. We are not accepting anything other than a University for Waterford and for this region. The most annoying thing about the whole debacle is that some people are prepared to deny what's right - even though it hurts the very people they purport to represent! All of our futures are highly dependent on this issue - whether we like it or not and WIT is the only show in town!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Well Done Munster Heroes!

Okay I admit it. I'm usually an armchair watcher of sport. So it was with some trepidation that I took to the highways and headed for Thurles for what turned out to be two great sporting occasions 'in the flesh' as it were over the last two weekends. The GAA are kind enough to give the Mayor of the City two tickets for the Munster Final (both of them) and I must say, having 'followed' the team for years via television or radio I'm a convert to the live game! Nothing compares to the atmosphere of a heaving, heart-pounding, high-speed hurling game played out by a team you care so much about!

True, you miss a lot of the detail: I didn't know who scored the winning goal until I heard it on WLR on the way home (good man Dan, you showed them all - what a hero!) and I will admit to missing the replays and the close-ups! I'm not well up enough to know the lads by their numbers but luckily enough I had Michael Walsh (City Manager) on one side of me and suffice to say he's well up on them all, numbers or not! Although with all the squirming around in his seat he was doing I didn't want to interrupt him too often. Obviously the man was feeling every puck and if will power alone was enough to put them over or under the bar, then he would have topped the scoring list himself!

It was hard to resist joining in with the chants, so I didn't (resist that is)! It was hard not to let a few shouts of 'Up the Deise' out of you when you felt there as a lull and the lads could do with knowing we were there for them, so I did. I whistled, boo-ed, ate my nails, shouted at the referee, willed the shots over the bar, jeered the Cork lads behind us at half time for making such a racket and had an all round excellent time indeed.

The GAA, I must say, had it all extremely well organised. Plenty stewards on hand, good programme, just back far enough in the stand to miss the rain and of course, the cuppa and sarnies at half time across in the Dome. I had an uncle with me who travels quite a bit to games and he was mightily impressed with the treatment received in the guest enclosure.

Of course, it helped enormously that Waterford won! Waterford people in the run up to both games were quietly confident although almost all 'neutrals' seemed to think that all Cork had to do was turn up! Of course, that scenario always suits Waterford down to the ground for some reason.

Our seats were quite close to the magnificent Munster cup so over I went to take a photo. I assured those in the really posh seats directly behind it that we would be bringing it home to Waterford later that evening and they seemed pleasant - if somewhat dubious of my claim. Oh how I love it when a plan comes together!

When Stephen Malumphy, Eoin Kelly with his baby son, John Mullane, Tony Browne and all the lads filed up past me to collect it, well it was just magic. Looking out over the pitch which had been invaded by the white and blue of the Deise was just magic too. And while next year I won't be in the posh seats, with their half-time cuppas and I might have to brave the rain in my face, I think the whole experience is worth it.

It lifts your spirits to see those men battle so hard in the name of Waterford; to see the determination and character it takes to never give up; to take the knocks, the pushing and shoving, the sheer physicality of this most magnificent of games and to keep going. To keep putting the sliothar up the field, keep aiming over the bar and hoping your chance to put one under will come. To never give an inch to the other team no matter how they might try to force you by skill or by skin and bone. To hear the infamous 'clash of the ash'.

It was a pretty intense evening and may I say a heartiest congratulations to all of those who put themselves on the line; who put their personal lives to the side and who stand out there and fight the fight for us. To all the backroom team and the Manager Davy Fitzgerald who has worked so hard for us.

But the fight is only half done. There are other, bigger battles to fight and scores to settle. So like as we would to light the bonfires and salute our Munster Champions we defer it to another day - a day perhaps later this year in early September when the men of the Deise could possibly, maybe, who knows....bring home the big one? The one they deserve. This is a great team, with great heart and courage and fire so for now we'll just wish them well. We'll keep our powder dry and who knows....if they are determined enough, if they are strong enough and if they are fierce enough then dues will be paid, pride will be restored to those who have suffered and a too long gap will have been bridged.

Who knows the future. But one thing is for sure; the glory is theirs to take and God knows, they've earned it.

We wait with bated breath!