Thursday, 14th December 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

A colourful City?

At the time of writing, Minister Pascal Luke Donohoe, would have been polishing the finer points of his 2018 Fine Gael Budget.

After being “Anointed” in June this year, to Leo’s Cabinet, as Minister of Finance, his wee primary school abacus has been dusted down and no doubt, never worked so hard. As TD after TD has demanded that their very own field of green deserves much, much more than their nearest neighbour.

There is NO sense of teamwork. Friendships are completely forgotten. Camaraderie goes out the window when budget time comes around. It is dog eat dog in the halls of power, in Leinster House.

I grant you, it is slightly more complicated this year, with the thin bonds holding this Government together. The sticking plaster is under tremendous strain, or so the spin would like you to believe. Yet, at the end of the day there is really very little between our two “Centre, right, left” parties and neither is going to step down from the seat of power just yet. There are deadlines to reach, in terms of securing pension rights, pay rises to accept and the feeling is that our next election may well be pushed out to 2019.

Just who, from Waterford, has been battering down the door to the Minister’s office in Upper Merrion Street? We have suspiciously heard very little from our two sitting Government TDs. You have to wonder just which side they’re batting for?

The jungle drums are beating out messages, telling us that the likes of our neighbouring Teflon TD, is working miracles for his Tipp constituents. Kilkenny’s new boy on the block, is steamrolling yet more investment into his county, to make up for the disappointment of their hurlers!

All around this wee green isle, deals were being done and papers signed, to advance parish pump politics. Something our elected few seem particularly bad at. We know the game plan, but just like some of our soccer teams, we find it impossible to stick to. When we need a “Plan B”, well, it is simply not there. Good in practice but poor in execution. “He talks a good game”, could be our political mantra.

Will Waterford be any better off once all the dust has settled on Budget Day 2018? Will the granny knot on Pascal’s purse strings be untied, affording Waterford much needed exchequer funding. Improving our access infrastructure, starting the North Quays, giving the South East proper cardiac care and delivering a REAL university for our region......I am not so sure.

Printed words will promise the earth, moon and stars, however I fear much of the same old, same old rhetoric. We have for far too long, been used to reading paragraph after paragraph of waffle. Commitment with absolutely NO substance, in how Waterford will likely benefit from the remote decisions being made, on our behalf, in the Dáil?

Don’t hold your breath! We are once again bottom of the pecking order and have been thrown the odd crumb or two. When will we ever get the chance to order, once again, from the à la carte menu?

My spirits were lifted on Sunday, despite this concerning backdrop. Once again I was involved in stewarding for the Solas Cancer Support Centre Run and Walk for Life. Having been Chair of the organising committee for the last two years, I was delighted to see the new committee run the most successful event to date.

The 5-mile walk, introduced in my first year as Chair of the RWFL in 2015, has as expected grown exponentially and has now become the main stay of the event. Well over 2,000 people took part in this the third walk. This annual event may now have become the biggest participatory event in Waterford.

A spectacular and solid sea of orange could be witnessed along The Quay and up The Mall.

Once again, I managed to get hold of a loud hailer. I positioned myself on the corner of John’s Street to bark, Sherk-like, instructions, to the runners and walkers. Then, I found myself balance on my push bike, cycling alongside the walkers, using the hailer to shout encouragement.

“Only 4-miles to go!” may well be my new calling card.

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