Monday, February 28, 2011

University Here We Come.....?

I must say I welcome the change demanded here in Waterford - as evidenced by our historic selection of 3 new TD's in the General Election. I am delighted that they are all articulate, capable, bright, tuned-in and, largely, young and energetic. I am also especially delighted that we now have our first woman elected to the Dáil in this constituency in a mighty mighty long time. Fair play to Ciara Conway, John Deasy, Paudie Coffey and John Halligan.

Now the fun starts. Now the hard works starts. Now the expectations of jobs, EU deals, stimulation and whatever-you're-having-yourself starts for our four and every other TD elected.

And Waterford still has a lot of needs. We have the highest unemployment levels - truly startling. We have had very little in the way of new jobs in a decade. We still don't have a University.

But on that last one I can surely rest a little more confident than before. Surely with THREE Government TD's (assuming Eamon actually listens to his answerphone messages) in the constituency - all from parties who have committed publically and proudly about their pro-University of the South East status - surely we can now be assured of the delivery, at last, of that self same promise?

Surely we can expect to see that committment published in the programme for Government which will, no doubt emerge over the next few days. I, for one, remain confident. I, for one, remain hopeful. I look forward to perusing the document and being able to know that at last, a national Government understands that the South East needs equality on this issue not just for our benefit but so that we, as a region can play our part in the rebuilding of Ireland Inc. We need it so that we can become contributors and drivers in the fight to restore our small but great nation to its rightful place as a Country of innovation, drive and creatitivity. We want to be able to play our part.

Until I hear differently (hopefully never) I will be assuming all of the above. And I remain, as I said, confident.

Meanwhile, the people have opted for change. They have opted to punish those they saw as responsible for our plight. They have chosen to fell those who once saw themselves as mighty. Let us hope that everyone has seen and heard. Let us hope we have no more arrogant, insular Governments populated by those who saw themselves as somehow superior to, and knowing more than, the rest of us little people. Let us hope that the message of Government 'in the interest of and at the will of the people' will have been noted and that we can now look forward to a time when our interests and not those of particular parties or interest groups are looked after. If that happens then we will have had a particularly good weekend just gone.

Lets be positive and give Enda his chance. The man surely deserves that and our four new TD's surely deserve the same. I, for one, will not be part in pulling them down before they've even had the chance to make a difference. I hope they do make a difference. I sincerely hope it. I wish them well and I look forward, on this lovely Spring day, to a brighter future for Waterford, the South East and, of course, for Ireland. If she wins, we win. Good luck to all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Official Opening of new City Cemetery - Mayors Speech

Members of the Oireachtas, Fellow Councillors, Church Representatives, ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure, as Mayor of Waterford, to officiate at the opening of the new Kilbarry Cemetery and to formally declare the cemetery open.

In a way, it is unusual to have a celebration at a venue such as this. Most of our visits to cemeteries are tinged with sadness and regret. But this is indeed a celebration – a celebration of Waterford City Council’s commitment to our citizens and a celebration of the real sense of community in this city of ours as well as the importance of family, loved ones and the memory of those we love who have departed.

It is not without reason that the cemetery has been named Kilbarry Cemetery as, by so doing, the Council is continuing a tradition from the ancient early Christian burial ground of Kilbarry, which is just down the road from us here.

The cemetery also, of course, celebrates a continuity of a different sort. A continuity from St Otteran’s Cemetery in Ballinaneasagh which has served this City for well over a century and which has acted as a resting place for the souls of thousands of the city’s inhabitants.

And there is further continuity and consistency. Soon the new nature park will open on the site of the remediated landfill just a stone’s throw away. It will be a lovely spot. A place to celebrate life and living juxtaposed with the cemetery here - a place to remember our dead. Between them, these two important projects represent Waterford City Councils commitment to the development of new quality community infrastructure in this, Irelands oldest city.

As I look around here, I cannot but be astounded at how lovely the place is - even without one headstone or memorial. It’s a gentle place. Over 3,000 trees and shrubs and over 30,000 daffodil bulbs have been planted here. Well laid out roads and avenues and plinths for the headstones are all in place. There is enough room for almost 5,000 graves. A columbarium for the ashes of cremation and a Plot of the Angels, which will provide dignity to parents in the saddest of losses – those of our children who will suffer death before knowing the joys of life.

This is a place where we will be able to remember them all. Whether in the sharp coolness of morning, or at the going down of the sun. It is a place which has a feeling of significance and serenity. And, over the years, its importance to all of us will grow. We will meet here often as citizens of this great city, as neighbours and friends and as a support to one another. We will meet here as people with a common purpose and, ultimately, a common destiny.

This is not so much a non-denominational cemetery but rather a multi-denominational one. A place which respects all beliefs rather than respecting none. I am delighted to say welcome to the church representatives who are here today, representing not alone their own religions, but also representing all beliefs, including those of other smaller churches and creeds.

As Mayor, I wish to thank those who have made this cemetery happen. Including Wills Brothers, the main contractors, associated sub-contractors, quantity surveyors GNKA Consulting and Bryan McCarthy & Associates who led up the design team. But also to City Manager, Michael Walsh and to Colette Byrne and their officials as well as to the on-site resident engineering staff.

I would also like to pay recognition to the staff of the Council, who, over many years, have looked after the graveyard in Ballinaneasagh and, especially, to its caretaker Liam Lanigan.

Finally, I hope that everyone recognises that Waterford City Council has designed and built this place in the hope that, over the years, it will provide solace to bereaved families, dignity in loss and an opportunity for prayer. Regardless of the language of that prayer or the beliefs of those who pray the words.

Nothing can replace a loved one departed. Nothing can take away the grief of a bereaved family and loved ones. But let us at least provide to those people a gentle place, a dignified place, where their loved ones can truly rest in peace.

I hope sincerely we have provided that place and today; it is my honour to declare Kilbarry Cemetery officially open.