Friday, 17th August 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Are we lacking in political talent?

Over the last few weeks many, many column inches have been written, relating to our Junior Minister John Halligan's recent faux pas, thus, widening the debate further, as to whether or not Waterford has the political talent to actually make a difference to the City, County and wider South East region.

If you look at our neighbouring counties, the numerous political "big hitters" across our borders are well publicised. These TDs are aligning themselves for significant portfolios in the next Irish Government, be that 2018, 2019 or 2020.

Waterford's long term hurling foe, Kilkenny, have a five seat constituency. Both FF and FG will probably be targeting three seats in the "Black and Amber" county. Out to the "Wesht" we have the super-constituency of Cork. The two main parties of FF and FG are well aware that this very large geographical area is a key battle ground. Eighteen seats are available, across the various compass points, Tipperary has five seats on offer and so does Wexford.

We are quite literally surrounded, by much bigger political sharks and that in itself is our greatest challenge. The main two parties and probably SF, albeit behind closed doors, see the Déise as fish-bait. Nothing too important and far enough away from Dublin headquarters to ignore... most of the time.

We have seen economic report after economic report shelved, or used to prop up wobbly old desks or used as doorstops, in dusty corners of Leinster House. From a rushed "Talk Talk" report, delivered by Richard Bruton and announced on WLR FM, during "Winterval on Ice" outside broadcast, in December 2011, to the most recent South East Economic reports. These have all come and gone. They have all been launched with much razz-a-ma-tazz, promising a subheading of "This is the one to fix our woes!" Yet many, many years later we are still stuck in the same Groundhog Day.

Our latest golden ticket promise of a "proper" cardio review, has now been found wanting in the terms of reference. These by all accounts having been by-passed by our own TDs apparently, they are now arguing the terms need to be changed? The bigger questions is, is it just the four Waterford TDs asking that these be changed or are our political neighbours doing the same?

Surely, 4+5+5+5=19, makes a more powerful argument than the lone voices of four individual party members?

Despite the rhetoric surrounding the apparent working together on the "Three Sisters" bid. I do wonder, will we ever persuade the likes of Kilkenny, Wexford and adding in Tipperary, to really support the betterment of the region. The TDs in these neighbouring constituencies see themselves as THE regional players and do not wish to bow down to Waterford. They do after all have significantly bigger population centres and more TDs in the Dáil.

So what of Waterford's political talent pool? Do we have the right people in Dublin to persuade our hostile neighbouring tribes to support the Déise? Well at this moment in time that would appear to be a big fat NO!

We have two TDs in Government. One has decided for some unknown reason to become John Ford's "The Quiet Man" and our other Junior Minister the complete opposite. You know you have made it as an Irish politician, when Mario Rosenstock satirises your every move!

With two TDs in Government you would think that we would have some chance of succeeding. Alas, like so many of the reports that have gone before, their promise has been fleeting and ephemeral.

Will Waterford ever be a political force in Dublin? In truth that probably won't happen, unless we return three, yes three, main party TDs. Or better still four from the same party! This of course, will not take place as we are voters of habit. Come election time we tend to vote the same old way.

We do need our current elected representatives to pull their socks up, whatever happens in the next year or two. They must start meeting and dealing with our "Hostile" neighbours.

They meet regularly themselves. Maybe now is the time to invite a few more to their tea party?


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