Friday, 19th January 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Our catheterisation laboratory is still “Missing In Action!”

As the temperature dropped, quite dramatically in the last couple of days, we left the Summer behind and Autumn began to colour our lives. Not before one last hurrah in Waterford City. Our Harvest Festival celebrated

“All things foodie” in this South East region.

The Terra Madre Slow Cook Festival organised, by amongst others Donal Lehane and Donald Sutherland (not the actor), was looking to expand, develop and “Grow to the next level”. I was CEO of Waterford Chamber of Commerce at the time and remember this festival’s origins. I jumped at the chance to bring this fledgling festival under our wing, help nurture it, allowing it to mature into the festival we love and recognise today.

A suitable committee was formed, with great support from Waterford Council. Harvest Festival stretched almost the length of our waterfront quay. One kilometre of food offerings, stalls, entertainment, educational classes, GIY conferences and even a petting zoo. The very best of our region, the “Breadbasket” of Ireland. It was a huge, roaring success, if you can recall and the finest in my opinion. Bringing enormous numbers of people to Waterford City, looking to sample or discover something new, to titillate their taste buds.

It is not only the Harvest Festival that has been a “Last of the Summer Wine” distraction. There were plenty of other events taking place, in and around our county to entertain us.

There has been a diversity of sporting achievements. Our magnificent young (youngish Mr “Brick” Walsh) hurlers’ odyssey to Croke Park and of course Waterford FC chasing promotion back to their rightful place in a Premier League. Lots of charity fundraising events such as the Donal O’Connor Memorial Cycle, the De La Salle GAA annual fundraiser, then last weekend I “Chased a Duck” all over County Waterford!!!!!

We have read more and more Census 2016 information telling us, here in Waterford, what we already knew! Our unemployment is still proportionately far too high, when compared to the national average. Third level uptake is ridiculously low. We don’t use public transport and our disposable income is one of the lowest in Ireland.

The promised North Quay Strategic Development Zone project is still according to our Council Executive, on stream. Waterford Council has now applied for the E60-70,000,000 funding needed to kick-start this “Once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity!” We are also reading through social media spinners, that this twin-development game changer will bring untold opportunities to Waterford. There has even been talk of a cable car type gondola, across the River Suir and up to the old hotel site on the hill. Just how we will get adequate visitor numbers, to sustain such a development economically, is yet to be teased out or convince a bank to lend a developer the money!

All of the above are just some of the headline grabbers, which have been a welcomed distraction for our holidaying TDs. Whilst we have been “Enjoying ourselves” the pressure to deliver some very key pieces of infrastructure, has de-escalated.

Yes, we were fittingly reminded of what we are missing, by our “Gentleman” hurling manager. In Derek McGarth’s Monday homecoming speech, he talked about the City and County’s urgent need for a catheterisation laboratory and a university. Our Minister was within earshot, sharing the same stage with our successful hurlers!

Governments are skilled experts in constantly kicking cans down the road. Our missing catheterisation laboratory was promised far too long ago and yet still no sign of its arrival. I live within a stone’s throw of UHW, passing it every single day of the week. I hope like so many others, one day soon I will see this now mythical unit, appear in its grounds, opening its doors to reduce much needed patient waiting lists.

The sense of urgency for Waterford seems all but lost on our representatives. Surely during their long summer recess, they should have been getting together? Formulating a proactive, real-time plan, to loosen Exchequer pursue strings, before the next budget.

Collectively, we must ask them just what have they been doing, whilst away from the Dáil, to ensure the delivery of the catheterisation laboratory? It would appear that our promised, part-time laboratory is not the only thing “Missing In Action”, in Waterford.

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