Tuesday, 18th September 2018
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Waterford Fianna Fail Councillor Eamon Quinlan called on Waterford’s Local Authority to adopt an approach of regional dominance for the South East and be prepared to ‘go it alone’ when necessary, even in the face of objections from other South East counties. Speaking on this topic Cllr Quinlan said "Cooperation on a regional basis has its uses but we need to move away from a ‘cooperation at all costs’ mentality as I feel this is making Waterford lose its edge compared to other regional capitals. We have seen flat out obstructionism to Waterford’s progress as the capital and economic centre of the region. Other counties have followed a policy of attempting to build up with the goal of overtaking Waterford and this has resulted in a fragmented region with no true clusters of economic industries or population centres on the same scale as a Limerick or Galway."

In his role as chairman of the Council’s Economic Strategic Policy Committee, Eamon revealed that up to 60% of all consumers spending in the South East are being lost to non-regional centres of commerce, Dublin and Cork being the major two. This is attributed to the lack of variety of many stores that people have shown a consistent willingness to travel to get, if unavailable here, for example, Marks & Spencers, Brown Thomas, House of Fraiser etc. This further strengthens Waterford Council’s view that the need for the development of the North Quays area into a regional commercial hub providing enhanced shopping and working options for thousands of people across Waterford and the region is two pronged. It addresses the current deficiencies Waterford has at the present and lays a strong foundation of competition with other cities for years to come.

This chance at success by Waterford to recapture the title of capital of the south east in not only lip-service but in undisputable social, economic and population terms has already garnered opposition. Unease amongst other south east counties and other cities to the proposed leap forward in Waterford’s fortunes has proven to be an unexpected headache that those supporting the project have no choice but to take head on and overcome. This misguided sense of their own economies being negatively impacted by success in Waterford shows a deep level of either ignorance of misunderstanding of the facts.

"We need to be straight here in our desire to railroad through the non-constructive type of opposition that Waterford is facing from some quarters. We are talking about thousands of jobs for a region still hovering above the national unemployment average. We are talking about an injection of hundreds of millions into the local economy and this mantra of ‘what about us’ from other local authorities should be answered appropriately with ‘the holding back of Waterford holds back all and will no longer be tolerated’. To me it boggles the mind and shows true insular thinking. Region cities acting as leaders such as Limerick have proven to be the making of neighbouring counties such as Clare, whose people can drive a quick 20 minutes into Limerick, work and then return to spend money in their local economies, play in their local GAA club, support the area etc. If it were not for the Limericks, Corks, Galways of the world then the neighbouring counties would also be hollowed out. This is what we have seen in the south east as Waterford has slowed and economic activity has diluted across the region to no one’s benefit.

"We must ask all willing partners to do just that, to partner with us as the population, industry, shopping, health, educational capital of the region in real terms and those who disagree must be sidelined," said Cllr Quinlan.

An announcement of the Governments role in terms of providing the part finance to see the North Quays project take shape is expected in the coming weeks.

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