While Waterford Crystal’s problems have been crystallized in recent weeks following its going into receivership, Senator Paudie Coffey recalled a debate he attempted to raise on the company in the Upper House.
“I can’t help thinking that an opportunity was lost last May when I tried to get the Seanad to debate the threat to Waterford Crystal,” said Senator Coffey.
“The predicament in which Waterford Crystal finds itself is a matter of important and national significance,” he said in the Seanad on May 21st.
“We need to debate not alone the issue of manufacturing in Waterford but of competitiveness in Ireland in general.
“Waterford Crystal continued to export goods when no other industry could do so and it now needs Government support in finding a mechanism through which it can continue into the future…It is a major flagship for tourism in the south east and it must be supported.”
Having asked for a discussion on the Government’s decision not to underwrite the €39 million loan that had been requested by the company at the time, Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan ruled Senator Coffey’s motion “out of order”.
The Senator continued: “I accept there was a problem about underwriting that loan, but I wanted the Minister for Enterprise, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, to come to the Seanad and tell us what the government would do to help the Crystal.”
As for the Cathaoirleach’s ‘out of order’ decision that day? “Whether it’s Croke Park, Brussels or Leinster House, you have to play by the rules,” he said. “But it was a missed opportunity…
“I linked my call for a debate on the Crystal to the wider issue of competitiveness in the Irish economy – and that was last May, before the credit crunch.
“The Fianna Fáil government was happy to dodge debating the crisis at the Crystal last May. They did not know what to do then and they do not know what to do now.”