By her attitude in Waterford last Friday, in relation to the quest for a local university, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan displayed an arrogance that has come to characterise Fianna Fail in recent times, according to City Councillor Mary Roche.

When asked at the ‘Innovate to Compete’ conference in the Tower Hotel about the designation of WIT as a university, the Tánaiste admitted that, despite the advice of her IDA experts and officials to the contrary, she doesn’t necessarily agree with that strategy.

“So”, said Cllr Roche (Ind), “the people who are out there all day every day fighting for investment in Ireland don’t know what they are talking about when they tell her that the availability of a university is one of the key reasons for investing in an area. The Tanaiste knows better.

“The truth of the matter became evident when she went on to state that Letterkenny wants a university! Letterkenny is a small town with an Institute of Technology in the Tanaiste’s own constituency. Letterkenny has not, nor ever has, applied for university status. But the Minister is prepared to sacrifice the future of all of us here in Waterford and the south east and that of our children, despite the evidence, to quell any noises of discontent back home in Letterkenny. Despite the advice of her own IDA officials on the ground, and indeed every industry chief here in the region.

Is this an example of the spurious basis on which Government and Cabinet decisions are being made in this country? Ministers are paralysed to act, even to fulfil their own Ministerial brief, even in the face of the best advice”.

Cllr Roche said Ms Coughlan needed to realise that her Ministerial brief is for enterprise development in the entire State and not to keep the rest of us down so that Letterkenny won’t be upset. And she argued: “Cork and Dublin IT’s, both of which have both written brief letters seeking designation (without any other documentation or work) are both located in areas already well served with universities. Waterford uniquely has not – although the Port Report, which was commissioned by the Government, states that WIT is ‘operating at university level’ and that the case for designation deserves to be addressed.

“For the record, I can tell the Tánaiste and the Government that the university issue is not going away and that we will not accept anything less for Waterford and for this region. The IDA clearly knows we need it. In fact the dogs on the street know we need it. When will the Tánaiste and the Government realise that they don’t know better than everyone else?

“The sooner there’s a general election and this Government steps aside to let someone else get their hand on the tiller, the better. They’re too arrogant, too far removed from the rest of us, too long in power.