Friday, 21st July 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Sadly, Yet again!

It is with heavy hearts that our attention is once again turned to London and the horrid events that surrounded the fire which engulfed Grenfell Tower last week. Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who were caught up in this dreadful yet avoidable tragedy.

At the time of writing this week’s article, there was news filtering through about yet another possible terrorist attack in the London

Borough of Finsbury Park. This latest attack appears to have targeted the Muslim community, during the period of Ramadan. Early accounts indicate that a lone male deliberately drove a rented white van, down a cul de sac, mowing down people who were gathering for a post-prayer evening supper. The driver of the van was, by eye witness accounts, heroically tackled by members of the public and subsequently arrested, after being detained in hospital.

London and her people have suffered tremendously in the last few weeks and I hope that there are many lessons to be learned. I do fear that in relation to the Grenfell Tower, the shutters will be raised and wagons circled by the Council of

Kensington and Chelsea. Officialdoms’ lips will be sealed, as people and members of the public start to ask what horrid set of circumstances could have lead to the unnecessary, high loss of so many innocent lives? The death toll is bound to rise in the coming days, as emergency services sift through the charred remains of flats.

The devastation and ferocity of the fire must mean that many of the remaining victims of this inferno will only be identified by dental records or DNA profiling. Once the painstaking process of accessing and examining each individual flat is complete, there are reports that over 100 people could have died last week, in Grenfell Tower.

Here in Waterford and in general across the majority of Ireland we, thankfully, do not have such density of high rise accommodation blocks. Those that do exist, will I imagine, be immediately examined by local councils and checked for appropriate fire safety, correct fire wall protection, early warning smoke alarms, sprinkler systems etc. Failure to act as a result of what has happened in London would be criminal, in any sense of the word.

However, such is the "Protection" around local council ivory towers, that many will feel that they do not need to do any more. Because as far as they are concerned, they are already doing just enough and they will not spend another penny unless they absolutely have to.

I wrote about "Golden Circles" and "BIG tubes" last week. In closed offices and behind tightly locked doors there will be a natural tendency, for out of touch officialdom, to start spinning the "Not on our doorstep" mentality. We will see people in the coming days and weeks ahead, being quite firm in their assessment. This tragedy would not happen in their area of authority. Yet how can we be sure that this is the case?

After all, so many of our officials are simply out of touch with their electorate and ultimately their paymasters.

For example. Last weekend in Waterford, the Sunny South East finally lived up to its name. The hottest weekend of the year – hurrah I hear you cry! It was so hot, that on Sunday the "Bargain basement" tarmac on our roads was melting.

Summer in the City was in full swing, keeping many a family and visitor alike in John Robert’s Square. The Churchyard Sessions are proving to be a huge success as well, tucked in behind The Reg. The

Waterford Triathlon Club’s annual "Hook or by Crook" race, attracted hundreds of competitors and visitors to Dunmore East (a big well done to Team 247 as well, on the unexpected relay win, with an extra hard pedalling Biscuit!). Lismore held the annual Immrama Festival of Writing, with the likes of Colm Toibin and Terry Waite attending. There really was a hell of a lot going on.

Yet, against this backdrop of sun, frolicking, sea and sand, I heard reports of out of touch Councillors, complaining about spending "Our" money on supporting these events! Events that bring joy to so many.

Get out from behind your closed doors and engage!

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