Bausch & Lomb employees contemplating their futures on Thursday last.
A dark day for Waterford city: a phrase I am weary of writing. In the May 20th edition of this newspaper, I wrote that there was no sign of an economic white knight for this region. And in this sad and sorry week, such a figure’s arrival feels further away than ever, sadly. I’m an optimistic person by nature but it’s going to require something pretty spectacular from the political powers that be to convince me as a citizen, never mind as a journalist, that there’s a real and genuine intent to get the south east moving again. When I was six years old, the tanneries in both Portlaw where I was born and raised, and Carrick-on-Suir, where I received my secondary education, were closed. Neither town has ever truly recovered from those closures all of 29 years ago, meaning an entire generation in two areas of Waterford and South Tipperary which, housing developments aside, saw little evidence of the Celtic Tiger. Four years after their closures, the NIHE, 70-plus miles away in Limerick became a University, and many of that generation has been upskilled in the midwest in the interim, with UL establishing itself as a major economic driver in the midwest/Shannon region. And what a stunning campus it is to visit today. The people of the south east have not had that same opportunity during that time in their own region and the best we can now hope for is a Technological University; quite what that means in real terms escapes me (as it’s not what was previously committed to). But to think if we’d had a University ever since the region’s industrial landscape began to change in a negative sense, and that goes right back to the mid-80s as far as the two towns I know best are concerned, what a difference that would have made to our region in the interim (See News 6 and 7 for more on this). I’m tired of the rhetoric. I’m weary of the spin and I am sick of vacuous comment which has no substance or sincerity. Successive governments stand indicted when it comes to not recognising the stunning potential of not only Waterford, but our neighbouring counties; South Tipperary has struggled similarly for many, many years (and again it’s not a constituency with a history of having a cabinet minister with a home address). I wish I had the answer. I wish I could undo this big economic knot we’re in. But all I have right now is a sense of enormous disappointment and complete frustration with the plight facing 200 families in and around Waterford at present. Another dark day indeed.