Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mayor of Waterford, Councillor Mary Roche, today called on the people of Waterford to support Aer Arann, the passenger airline at Waterford Airport, as it goes through a period of Examinership. The Mayor stated her firm belief in the importance of the airline to business and tourism in Waterford and praised the services that Aer Arann continues to provide to and from the South East.

According to the Mayor, "the key routes to London, Manchester and Birmingham are critical to business investment in this region. In my recent round of discussions with large businesses based in Waterford, the importance placed upon direct access to key air routes is striking."

"Over 50% of traffic at the airport is now passengers visiting from the UK for business and leisure – in the context of our citys renewed focus on inward tourism, it is critical that we do all we can to support these services into the future. Our airport is a vital element of our infrastructure and we need to underline its importance to Government and seek to build upon the asset that we have."

"Recent studies have shown that Waterford Airport supports approximately 560 jobs in the South East, before considering the impact of air services on business location decisions."

"While I know that Waterford Airport has long had excellent custom from Kilkenny, Wexford, South Tipperary and Carlow, the new road infrastructure has greatly added to the airport usage in the region and to the convenience for inbound visitors to the Southeast."

"From my contacts with airport management, I am assured that it is business as usual at the airport and that all Aer Arann flights in and out of Waterford will continue through the Examinership. As Aer Arann uses the Examinership process to seek new investment, it is very encouraging to hear that the routes at Waterford Airport are among the best performing in their network and that Waterford is central to the future plans for the airline."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reaction to the Hunt Report - No Second Class Solutions Acceptable!

The Mayor of Waterford Councillor Mary Roche has issued a statement commenting on the recent leaks from the National Strategy Group for Higher Education chaired by Dr Colin Hunt. The leaks claim that the group has rejected WIT’s case for University Status and will instead offer the entire sector the prospect of designation as ‘Technology Universities’ once stringent criteria have been met.

Councillor Roche states “The City of Waterford and the South East Region will speak once the Hunt Report is published. However, what we expect from the Hunt Report is nothing less than the ability of WIT – under whatever name or designation – to be able to deliver equality for this region. We will not accept anything that keeps us in the second tier and importantly would not deliver the same operating structure and autonomy as full University status.

We insist that WIT must have the remit to deliver inward investment into this region and the same capacity for research, development and innovation as every other region. The South East Region, more than any other needs that capacity to be unleashed.

“How many jobs,” asks Mayor Roche “have been lost to this City and this region as a result of the Governments’ prevarication on this issue? How many more will be lost if the Hunt Report doesn’t deliver? I want to send out a clear signal that we expect the Hunt Report to deliver nothing less than equality in terms of autonomy and finance for WIT – after that they can call the Institution whatever they like. The name is not important it is equality of opportunity for the region, for the city and for future generations that we demand.

Essentially if we are driving with the same engine it doesn’t matter that the bodywork might have a new coat of paint. I would urge the Government to take careful note of this message and not to attempt to deliver anything less for Waterford and the South East, ” she said.

Monday, August 16, 2010

North Quays

I think it's probably fair to say that we have faint hope that the North Quays will be developed any time soon under the current economic circumstances. They will, of course be tidied up and made safe for the visit of the International Tall Ships Fleet next June.

But what of the immediate or even medium term? I believe that there must be a useful purpose that the North Quays could be put to in order to restore them from dereliction and bring them into use for the people of Waterford and South Kilkenny.

My suggestions would be simple enough and simply achieved if people had half a mind to. They include either a simple park layout or a series of sports courts & pitches or even the dreaded parking.

Personally I favour the sports courts, followed by the park. One way or another this would tidy the area up until some other use is found for them. It will be an awful shame if they are allowed to fall once again into disrepair (see above and that photo was taken a year ago - I don't know what they are like right now but I'll bet it's not better)!

If all parties were willing the North Quays can and should be brought into use. There may even be a job or two in it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thanks Lads!

Yes it was a disappointing day for the Deise. The lads didn't play the way we know they can and in fairness Tipp were the better team. I wish them luck now as they meet the giants of Kilkenny - they're going to need it!

But it has to be said; it was another great year for Waterford. Munster Champions! Another All-Ireland semi-final!! We keep a-knocking and sooner or later we're gonna get in!!!

I have no doubt but that the Deise will have our day. We're up there competing with the best teams year after year now. And every year we learn a little more and get a little more experienced and sometime - soon I hope - all the work and sweat and (probably) tears is going to pay off and that monkey is going to be off our backs for good.

We've waited a hell of a long time and we can sure as hell wait some more. At least now we are competing. Every year we have rightful expectation and hope. Every year we get to Semple Stadium and Croke Park. How many generations of Waterford people never saw that? Haw many counties can never even hope to see that?

Well done to Davy Fitzgerald and his backroom team. Well done to the mighty Waterford warriors. Sure it would be easy to be gracious in winning but what Waterford are doing is building, building.... and building character. And it's working. You can't deny we've made enormous strides!

You get nothing for sympathy or because you 'deserve it'- in sport or in life. You have to go out and fight. And I know that the Waterford team will tend their wounds and their dented spirits and then next year they'll don the white-and-the-blue and they'll go out there again with pride and that justifiable expectation in their hearts. And so will we.

Thanks for the great year lads! Thanks for the hard work. Thanks for the time and the loyalty and the effort and the pain. Someday it's gonna come right for us and until then we just have to keep believing. And we do.

We live to fight another year......Roll on 2011!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Could 2010 Be The Start of Waterfords' Decade?

Okay so. Lets get the nasty truths out of the way.

Our International reputation as a Country is shot (evidence the increased cost of borrowing for Ireland Inc.) Ivor (I will one day be President) Callely is making extremely heavy weather of this whole expenses saga. Ministers are traipsing around the country in heavy duty jets while their Ministerial Mercs are tagging after them on the road network.

The Anglo Irish Banks bill is heading for just under €25,000,000,000! Yes that's 25 BILLION if you've lost count of the numbers. The HSE are closing beds and wards and hospitals wherever they can. The cost of doing business just went up this weekend with the energy levy. The Cystic Fibrosis patients are still dying without their isolation rooms. The elderly and cared for are having their support hours cut. Special schools are having their budgets cut.

Irish Rail are doing their best to close down the Rosslare Waterford railway line. We STILL have no decision on a University for Waterford. And all of this is just taking in the last month or so for news! The list goes on.

The Country, it seems, is up the creek!

So what can we do in our little corner of it?

What can we do for ourselves? What decisions are within our power to change, influence or implement? Those are the decisions that we should concentrate on.

The City Council has led the way using tourism as a driver with the delivery of the House of Waterford Crystal, the improvements on The Mall (pictured above from an unusual angle), the development of the Tourism product (festivals & marketing etc.) and the new www.discoverwaterfordcity.ie website (a real gem).

We are continuing that focus and adding in an Enterprise focus to hunt down jobs for our city and to promote an enterprise culture. We need people to create jobs both for themselves and if possible, for others.

We continue to try and bring improvements to the public realm and either encourage or force others to do so also. However the powers available to do this are limited and will not in truth deliver the kind of radical solutions that some people (including me) might like.

By the end of the year Waterford will be the only City (possibly the only place in Ireland) to be able to say that we are 'flood proof'. By September we will have a Motorway all the way to the Capital with the tourists and market that it opens up to us.

Bad and all as things are nationally and even Internationally I believe that 2010 could see the dawn of a prosperous and visionary decade for our City. If we all put our shoulders to the wheel and get our brains in gear - then I know it will be. It is up to us to capitalise on these many developments because no one is going to do it for us.

So ask yourself this: What can I bring to the party? And then bring it!