With almost 15,000 people now on Waterford’s dole queues, up over 1,700 since January, the City’s Mayor, Cllr John Halligan has blasted the Government’s hapless response to the region’s growing unemployment crisis.

“I think the people of Waterford genuinely believe that they’ve been abandoned by the Government,” he said as 315 workers at Teva Pharmaceuticals prepare to start signing on from early in the new year.

And the Mayor, who topped the poll in this summer’s local elections, added: “We’re not talking about doing something here in three or four months’ time. Remember when Dell went in Limerick, Minister O’Dea, within one week, had a task force set up.

“We’ve had nothing done here – no help for Waterford Crystal workers, no help for ABB workers, no help for Bausch & Lomb workers and now, this factory is about to fire 315 people out onto the street. I think it’s appalling, particularly a factory that had made €3.5 billion worldwide…

“Nobody appears to be doing anything about it – I can’t solve it as Mayor; City Councillors can’t solve it. Our recourse is to the Government to come down here and see what’s happening to Waterford and stop the jobs haemorrhaging.”

Demanding “specific Government intervention… to help stop the haemorrhaging of jobs from the city”, he said: “You have to wonder how bad things are going to be left get here… God knows what will happen in the next few months.”

Detecting “a drive on in Ireland to force people down below the minimum wage… driving more people and more families onto the breadline,” an angry Cllr Halligan insisted “this is not sustainable,” and he fears that “to have over 12,500 people unemployed… will destroy the quality of life in Waterford City if something is not done.

“We’re a relatively small city with 12,500 unemployed – the consequences of that are that we’re affecting the spending power not of 12,500 people but probably 30,000 people which I think could very well destroy the Waterford economy.”

Predictably there’s been a political outcry this week over this latest jobs blow – but a deafening silence from the parties in power.

See page 4 and Editorial, page 6.