Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Proposing speech for Motion That Waterford City Council demands that Minister Phil Hogan desist from his proposal to abolish Waterford City Council as an independent entity.

The Minister for the Environment & Local Government Phil Hogan is currently considering the abolition of Waterford City Council as a stand alone entity. I oppose this move as it would strip the city of a dedicated administration. Anyone who has visited either the newly opened medieval Museum or the Bishop’s Palace can see that for 800 years the city council has worked to protect the rights and privileges of this ancient city and the citizens that live here and make it the place that it is today. Todays Council is the inheritor of that work and we continue to work to lead and develop our city. I for one am proud of our achievements so far.

We would not be here without the determination and energy of the great Viking merchant traders who founded this Waterford almost 1100 years ago . Are we on the eve of the 1100th anniversary of the founding of this city going to allow it to be relegated to a second class city when for centuries Waterford was Ireland’s second city and greatest port?

The Great Charter Roll in the Medieval Museum and the story it tells leave us in no doubt that protecting the rights of this city has been a continuous struggle and that for over five hundred years this city council went to great lengths to defend its rights and its trade and commerce from outside interference.

Is this council going to go down in history as the Council that after 800 years of governing and protecting Waterford allowed the destruction of one of the most ancient and noble centres of local government in Europe? We are a city that is older than Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, or Brussels! We need to stand together and stand up for Waterford city and perhaps we will be treated with the dignity and respect that we and the people of this ancient metropolis deserve. We are the elected representatives of the people of Waterford if we don’t defend the city, who will?

Are the people of this ancient City to be given a chance to vote on this proposal? Where is the democracy in this decision? I demand that at the very least the Minister conduct a plebiscite on this most important issue and I call on the leaders of Waterford City to follow the example of over 800 past Mayors and Councils to defend our City. Perhaps the European Union, with its principle of subsidiarity might even insist that we look again at any dilution of democracy in Ireland – already the most centralised country in the western world, if the Government refuses to listen.

We admire the traditions of our European neighbours yet Minister Hogan seems to be singlehandedly trying to destroy over 1,000 years of tradition in Irelands oldest City. Who will speak against him? Who will stand up for Waterford? Who will defend our City and ensure that it can grow and thrive into the future?