Monday, 21st August 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Forget the first 100 days, Leo’s first 100 hours were mighty!

Michael Garland, bizBoost Chair, Waterford Business Group Donald “The” Trump, as president of the “Good Old US of A”, was assessed on his progress, as the newest resident of the

White House, after only 100 days. Our latest and youngest ever Taoiseach, Leo “The Lion” Varadkar, has already courted so much controversy that we need only look to his first “100 hours” in office to read his mindset.

When you dig deeper into his cabinet appointments, you can see that there is really very little to shout about, for Ireland’s Oldest City and the wider region. As with ALL cabinet reshuffles, there will be the inevitable winners and losers, prior to all the dust settling and before the unavoidable fallout starts. The best you can hope for, is that your own TDs get a gig on the back of putting at least one of their big feet into the right camp.

For Waterford that foot surprisingly, belonged to our very own “Scarlet Pimpernel”, from the “Westh” of the county,

John Deasy. There can be no doubt that having put his head above the parapet to support Leo, he could have expected a small token Junior Minster post, in one of the more obscure Government Departments.

“Surprise, Surprise!”, as Cilla Black would have said, Waterford was given no such recognition. In fact the whole of the South East was left remarkably short of any representation at Leo’s round table of cabinet lovies. As he was ignoring the “Sunny South East”, he also disregarded many a talented female TD and loaded his Ministerial roles with men from Mars.

Across the border in County Kilkenny, there was significant recognition for John Paul Phelan and a post to the very Department that looks after our local government. This was after all the very man who was so vociferous on the boundary issue, that I and many others suspected he was the very reason that Simon Coveney choose not to implement the report’s recommendations. Did John Paul have one foot in each camp during the Fine Gael leadership election campaign? He may very well have done and do you know what, it was such a pity that our own could not manoeuvre the chess pieces around the board to do the same? He supported Coveney and yet wooed Varadkar. The result was a role as a serious influencer for his constituency and lots of positive PR for himself.

Unfortunately, both the political heavyweight parties see our nearest neighbours as either 2 or 3 seat constituencies.

Waterford on the other hand looks like it may well return 1,1,1,1, for the foreseeable future. Unless, I hate to say this, we somehow return 3 FF or 3 FG we will continue to see political tumbleweed blowing us through Dáil Éireann. Waterford, as a political force, has been out- flanked by our surrounding counties and the net result will be the odd minuscule crumb, thrown to us every now and again.

The sad truth is that we cannot even get this

Government to deliver a paltry circa €2 million project for increased Catherisation Laboratory facilities. This is chicken feed spending to an Irish Government! All around the country other TDs are delivering quietly and efficiently, services their constituent voters want and demand. All done outside of the glare of national press scrutiny and publicity. We here in Waterford, are being stitched up like the proverbial kipper!

I fear that unless the UHW situation is fixed with a long term plan, we could very well see a stand alone candidate being elected for Waterford in the next general election. The sad truth is “What good will this do us?” As he/she will be one lone voice, outside of the sphere of Government influence, wandering aimlessly around the corridors of Leinster House.

Our other crumb of comfort is that Leo’s mother hails from County Waterford. This of course means that he will see his home county as somewhere that needs special attention, ahead of all other constituencies! A Junior Minister post for a sitting FG Dungarvan TD perhaps? Oh , I forgot that dice has already been cast!

So we in Waterford are once again waking up, scratching our heads, thinking “Groundhog Day?”

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