Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's simple, Minister Hanafin - It's FAB!

So Mary Hanafin is re-iterating once again at the so-called FF mini-think in at the Forum yesterday that WIT already has everything it needs? Ah me. Mini think in is right. Mini ideas; mini leadership; mini understanding.

Let me explain (again) to the Minister why WIT needs equality (nothing more). It's FAB! Finance; Autonomy; Branding. Simple enough for Mary? Yes. Just remember FAB.

Finance - because yes, as the Minister says, WIT is an extra-ordinary Institution with Awarding Authority up to and including PhD level. Problem? WIT is carrying out that mission with FAR less funding than all the Universities and even many of the other ITs. Institute of Technology Funding isn't based on anything. Not a per student payment. It's just historical. There is no fair yard stick. If you were always well funded, you continue to be and if you were historically badly funded - then you continue to be. So we are being treated unequally on the finance front with every other region in Ireland - and don't forget that outside of Dublin, the South East is the largest REGION in the country without a University at almost half a million people.

Autonomy - so that WIT can make its' own decisions and chart its' own course designed for this region without having to go cap-in-hand to the HEA (Higher Education Authority) for permission to run courses, change direction, respond to regional needs. Universities are autonomous. WIT and the South East needs that too. Why should we accept that our region not have the decision making power of every other region.

Branding - because yes the word 'University' does matter. It is an internationally recognised brand that allows the world understand instantly what you are. But alone, the branding would mean nothing. The name is important but we should be fighting for what the word means - equality of treatment and funding - rather than just for the word itself. If it were just a word we could have simply bought ourselves a new sign and gone out and rebranded years ago. We want what the other regions have Mary. What is so wrong with that? (That's why I am concerned about the leaks from the Hunt Report which allege that we are to be given some second class branding without any equality!)

I bet if Mary was still living down in Tipperary she'd be far more supportive of our bid than she is up in Dublin with their extremely well provided for University Sector. What's sauce for them up in the Capital is obviously too good for us down here in the South East!

Well I for one have had enough of Mary, and of Fianna Fail and of their 'we know better than you' pomposity. I am heartily sick of them. Go to the country Mary I say. You and your merry band and see what the thinking people of Ireland think of you.

People of Waterford and the South East: how will we get our University? By voting Fianna Fail out of power. Bring it on!

Friday, September 10, 2010


While I welcome Enda Kennys statement in Waterford yesterday committing Fine Gael to a University of the South East, I personally would still prefer a form of wording which committed to the 'designation of WIT as the University of the South East' but perhaps I am being pedantic. My faith in political promises is at something of a low ebb.

I also note that the process which Mr Kenny seems to be proposing is to develop criteria for the creation of a University and the the examination of WIT's or any other case through Section 9 of the Universities Act 1997. And I have to ask: how long is that going to take? On my experience it sounds like a 3 - 5 year process. WE CANNOT WAIT THAT LONG!

Jobs are being lost this city and region today. Our young people and their talent are being lost to this region every day. We are operating at a disadvantage every day. How long more must we be expected to do this?

So while I welcome Fine Gaels seeming comittment, I still say we need this now. We need this issue to be the number one issue that is being talked about and fought for in the city. Why? Because it has the capapcity to deliver jobs. End of.

We need to rack the University issue up as an election issue and make it clear to Fianna Fail that if they don't deliver this to our region immediately they will face electoral annhialation. We need the people of Waterford to get up on our soap boxes and to really push for this.

Why should you be raising your children for export? We need jobs for them here. The best way to get that is to have a University. Today. Now. By this current government. Why should we accept any less? We need government to deliver for this region and I will continue to rattle cages and upset any politician in the land of any party in order to keep the pressure up for the designation of WIT as a University and I make no apologies to anyone - regardless of what they may say about me - in my effort to do that.

The debate is on again. We can tease out the niceties and debate the nuances to our hearts content but what we really need is action. Action. Give us a University. Designate WIT or suffer the consequences. People of Waterford I am asking for your support for this campaign. Together we can bring this issue to the fore and it is critical for the future of our children and our region - and Ireland - that we have equality and can contribute to, rather than be a drain on, the recovery that will need to be fought hard for, for our city and for our country.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Second Anniversary of Sinking of Sail Training Programme

I know that September 11th is a striking anniversary, being as it is the date on which the Twin Towers were attacked and 3,000 innocent people lost their lives in New York City. Nothing can compare with that event. The world will forever remember the terrible events that took place as the unspeakable tragedy unfolded before our eyes. Our sympathies rest with all those who lost loved ones.

September 11th also marks the second anniversary of the sinking of the Irish Sail Training Ship, the STV Asgard II. Thankfully, due to the professionalism of the crew,the calmness of the trainees and the generosity of the rescue services in France no lives were lost that day but it is nonetheless a sad day for our small Island nation. Because we didn't just lose a ship that day, we also lost our national Sail Training programme.

Sadly, nothing has been done by the Government in the interim to ensure its continuance - save of course, pocketing the insurance money into central coffers. Now Ireland, a maritime nation, with the International Tallships fleet due to visit us twice in the coming years has neither a ship nor a sail training programme. As it stands currently, there will be no Irish sail training ship to take part in our name in those events.

If Irish young people are to get the opportunity to take part it will have to be aboard the ships of other nations. I am calling on the Government to initiate this discussion immediately and in time for the International Tallships Festival in 2011.

While the entire country is convulsed with Anglo Irish Bank and talks of recession, we cannot allow everything good that had been built up over decades to be simply taken away from us by those who can't see beyond the next IOU to the bank manager and the bondsman!

Sail training was an immense, life-changing experience for most of those who were lucky enough to be able to sail aboard Asgard. We owe it to all of young people to do everything we can to restore it - considering it was funded through their own contributions and through Lotto funding! The Tallships in Ireland without Asgard is a hard enough pill to swallow. The Tallships in Ireland with NO sail training vessel would be a disgrace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mayors Picnic In The Park - You're Invited!

I am inviting everyone who has a few hours free on Saturday, September 11th next to attend the 'Mayors Picnic and Play In The Park'. Weather permitting it is going to be a fun day for all the family with theatre, crafts, drumming, games and lots more to keep everyone entertained - from the tiny toddlers all the way up.

Caulfields Supervalu will have some ready-made picnics for early arrivals but why not put your own basket of goodies together - from the simple fresh rolls and bananas to something that takes a little more preparation if that's your thing!

It may be the last chance we'll have to lark around in the park until next spring! So come on, bring the kids and the blanket and let's all celebrate the harvest together!

Don't say you weren't asked!

We are so lucky to have so many people working on festivals here in Waterford and the Autumn and early Winter are no exceptions. We have, of course the Harvest Festival for 10 days with as fantastic a programme as I've ever seen; Imagine Arts Festival comes soon after and the the Waterford International Music Festival (incorporating as it does the 50th year of the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera) but now also boasting a high-school musicals festival, a gospel festival, Design Week and the re-invigorated Fringe Festival. Mostly organised and arranged by volunteers.

To assist their huge efforts Destination Waterford has put in place series of supports for festivals in the form of both Deirdre Molloy and Lynn Cahill who are putting their combined considerable energies and talents into developing the festival products and marketing them. I am sure the dividends from this investment will be hugely beneficial!

I sincerely hope that the good people of Waterford and the South East will come out and enjoy everything that we are working so hard to put in place for their delight and delectation (to coin a phrase!). Waterfords Arts & Cultural scene in hopping at the moment and is the envy of many other places. Lets support it and make sure it stays vibrant and indeed continues to strengthen and grow.

And don't forget now - see you next Saturday in the park. You Are Invited. (I'll be the one with the simple basket that needs virtually NO I'm off to buy a few bananas!)

Visit for more information on whats going on from September 10th - 19th.