Monday, 19th February 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"Meow, meow," Claws are being harpened once again!

So it begins, afresh. Other regional players, are indicating that the South East should NOT work together, for the betterment of the 500,000 people living and working in this wee corner of Ireland.

To have to listen to a senior stakeholder, from Kilkenny Chamber, stating that the development of the North Quay would be detrimental to Kilkenny, is maddening (however, not surprising, if the truth be told, given his parochial reasoning, that it would be detrimental to Kilkenny, if it should go ahead). This from a business body that not so many years ago, went through its own internal enquiry, looking into some, well let me say, abacus financial accountability. How can a lobby group, created to "Advance business together" and be "In business for business", have such a myopic vision of where future regional development lies?

This "Cats Chamber", is at odds with their neighbours in Waterford. Like so many rational, logical groups, who advocate the North Quays development, as the start of some significant regional expansion. In fact, the Government’s 2040 National Planning Framework, puts Waterford to the fore of this regionalisation, forecasting significant population growth. Will these vested parish pump politics get in the way of a vision, to once and for all create genuine regional balance? Of course they will.

Looking back at the judge’s post-report of the "Three Sisters" bid, you’ll remember that Galway was awarded the honour. They happened to have a festival on, when the judges were visiting and the City also beamed the final judging "Live". Now there’s a City that knows just how to tick the right boxes.

Yet we had three equally big hitters, supposedly working together? This should have blown Galway’s bid to "Kingdom Come". Combining the strength and talent of Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford, should have been a no brainer. These three South East giants could have fashioned a one of a kind offering. The judges would have had no option, but to give the award to the "Three Sisters". This didn’t happen. It may well have been attributed to their concerns, as to whether these regions, had the propensity to work together, for the greater good. Something Galway would have pointed out!

There are so many other examples of the lack of cooperation with the neighbours. They’re only really interested in "Self".

The proposed expansion of the City boundary, to the North of the River Suir was scuppered. Despite apparent Government Ministerial approval. The outcry from Kilkenny’s political representatives, ensured that the rubber stamp would not take the ink. The Port of Waterford is in the eyes of others, The Port of Kilkenny and they are not frightened to shout about this either.

Kilkenny, as a five seat constituency, guarantees that the main political parties have more to lose if they don’t get their agenda just right. There is a very real possibility, that this constituency will return three FF or FG TDs at the next election. What with Waterford’s political representation not being able to compete and probably returning only one from FF, FG, SF and a Green or Independent, is it any wonder that the corridors of power, purr to the calls of the cats?

When "Big Phil" departed for Brussels, he left a very large void. That space is now being filled post haste. Waterford’s last significant Minister, departed many moons ago and we are still staring at the gigantic chasm he left.

There will be NO regional development, if we don’t get moving with Waterford’s agenda. Do we need to cosy up to those negative thinkers? Well no, but we do need to make sure that we can work with them. Persuading them that for the region to flourish, Waterford has to retain her beating heart.

After all, where do the huge percentage of the employees working in IDA businesses coming from? Also, what of the employees, attracted to working for the larger Waterford based service companies? Yes, they come from across the SE region. Including Kilkenny.

Without Waterford’s employment opportunities, the whole region would fail. Yet recognising and admitting this, seems to be the BIG elephant in the room.

In the meantime, we need to clip these covetous claws at every opportunity.

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