Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's a City?

The amount of spinning and counter-spinning thats going on regarding the proposed Waterford City and County amalgamation due to be announed next week is phenomenal. In fact those 'in favour' of it think I'm doing a fair amount of spinning - or scaremongering as they call it - myself.

I have only one thing to ask. After the amalgamation - which NOBODY asked for, and which NOBODY had in their programme for Government - will Waterford be the same as Galway?

Just keep asking that question: is it the same as Galway?

If not, then its not equal - whatever they may tell you. A curse on all their houses if they dishonour the oldest city in Ireland.

By the way, the reason I think there's so much spinning is because this proposal is fluid. They're making it up as they go along.

And incidentally, Galway which was a town council up to the eighties found that that structure was hindering their ability to deliver and they applied for and were granted city status. They now want us to go back to some makey-uppy structure akin to the level of an urban town council!

A Municipal Borough or whatever makey-uppy name they have on it. Interesting that that is almost the exact title of Kilkennys Borough Council..... If it's that good; apply it unilaterally - across all our Irish cities. Don't single Waterford out.

Don't mind me. Don't believe my 'spin'. Make up your own mind. Ask the question: IS IT THE SAME AS GALWAY.

If it's not a City Council; it's not a city.

Friday, October 5, 2012

More on Waterford City/County Proposed amalgamation

To those who have read my previous pieces on this topic - apologies you will understand the issues and how I feel about them already. This is a status update I posted to Facebook this evening and I have been asked to publish it here for those who don't use Facebook.


Since the Munster Express headline yesterday my phone hasn't stopped hopping! Suffice to say that I don't think the merger issue is under the radar anymore. I try not to do politics here but there's been such an outcry I wanted to thoughts. For those who want to read more there are 4 articles on my blog going back as far as August 2011. The address is

So. As succinctly as I can. Here's what I see as the main threats of amalgamation:

1. The loss of our history as Ireland's oldest city. We have had a dedicated City Council since the late 1100's. A dedicated stand alone city council focussed purely on the city and it's future. Founded in 914 - are we to lose our city status on the eve of our 1,100dth anniversary. But you either get the historic significance of this, or you don't. I do.

2. Regardless of whatever spin is put on it, without a dedicated stand alone city council we will not be the same as Galway, Cork or Dublin. Is there some policy at play that sees those three locations being the focus of future investment? Current IDA activity would appear to suggest it.

3. Without a dedicated city council would the entire southeast lose investment and focus? What would become of our gateway status? It is a struggle as things are. I cannot see how being relegated to some second tier type administration would be better for our city.

4. We would be taking on a County with a €7.9 million deficit meaning any future investment in the city from a future joint council would be severely curtailed.

5. I cannot see where any significant savings would come as there is a national project in shared services being undergone as we speak anyway. This means that things that can be done jointly, or regionally or nationally are already being put in place.

6. I do not understand why a very small number of authorities are being singled out. If this was about delivering better local government surely it would be done on a national basis with well thought out, strategic things that we want to aim for. Why this pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey approach?

7. My objection is not because I am afraid to lose my seat. If this is about saving money then cut the number of Councillors in both authorities. The city council has already cut our annual budget by €8million per year. I believe cutting numbers (of councillors) and the shared services will deliver actual savings whereas what is being proposed may actually end up costing money as it means the introduction of a whole new organisation. It also means a focus on shaping the organisation for a number of years, taking the focus off driving the city forward.

8. I also believe that local government needs reform. But that won't happen as our centralised parish pump TDs and Ministers will not give up any real authority as it might mean they would have to focus on national issues solely and that would cost them votes in their opinions. Most have no vision of a future Ireland anyway IMHO.

9. In any amalgamated authority the city would form a minority part of any new council as there are more people in the county. This would lead to a prioritisation of resources FROM the city TO the county as decided by a majority. So your household charge could end up fixing pathways down on the east Cork border - while we still have no say just 200 yards across the river from the clock tower.

10. Finally I have NO faith in Minister Hogan, nor do I think anyone at Cabinet level cares enough to stop him - despite the fact that I hear on the grapevine that the Taoiseach has told him to back off Galway City, the Gateway to the West. There is silence when it comes to someone defending the Gateway to the Southeast.

And finally finally, I quite simply do not believe that Dungarvan will be the new Headquarters of the Council because it is, in my mind, just too preposterous.

However. Let me say this. If the change that the Minister delivers does, in my opinion, make things better for WATERFORD CITY, I will acknowledge it.

BUT. If Waterford City is downgraded, disadvantaged, compromised or dishonoured in any way I will NEVER accept it and will fight with every weapon in my arsenal to undo that wrong.

Sorry. I know that's long and a rant. But this is very important. To me. And it should be to anyone who cares about our history, our status, or our future.


Mary x