Collr Mary Roche

Collr Mary Roche

The ‘rainproofing’ of Waterford city centre forms the centerpiece of a three point plan that could provide the city with a significant commercial advantage over other urban locations.

Councillor Mary Roche’s plan, exclusively revealed to The Munster Express, proposes the construction of a light, transparent covering for the surrounds of John Roberts Square and other city centre streets.

“This would make shopping in Waterford a unique experience,” said Cllr Roche. “By allowing people to shop outdoors in a city centre while also under cover would greatly enhance Waterford as a shopping and tourist destination.”

This ‘roofing’ of the shopping district (also mooted in this newspaper on January 30th) would be included in the re-branding of Waterford as ‘Ireland’s Oldest City’ according to Cllr Roche.

“We could leap over regional and perhaps even national competition for tourists and shoppers by making this happen,” she added.

Regarding the re-branding, Cllr Roche said the city should fully avail of the rich heritage at its disposal, namely the Viking invasion, what the marriage of Strongbow and Aoife catalysed, our city walls, etc.

“This can and should be a very strong selling point,” she continued. “We have plans for the Viking Triangle and we should push ahead with this, even despite the absence of the Gateway Innovation Fund which was abandoned by the Government.

“Even without huge capital funding, work on re-branding Waterford as a city with a unique historical importance to Ireland should commence.”

Free entertainment is the third element of Cllr Roche’s plan to get the city moving positively forward.

She said: “We should play to our strengths and I contend that Waterford is top of the league in our ability to deliver entertainment of all sorts.

“Spraoi can and should be the driving force for events we could brand as ‘Waterford – City Of Summer’ or the ‘Funny South East’ for example. Waterford should have free activity every weekend of the summer making us a city that is always buzzing…

“We have the tools to make it happen. All we need is the buy-in of all the major and minor players in the city.”

Given the current economic climate, Waterford “needs more than just shopping”, she continued.

“Even if KRM were built and firing on all cylinders we would need to offer more. I believe that my Three Point Plan could and would deliver for Waterford.

“Yes, the rain-proofing of the city would require investment but this, in my opinion should be the centre-piece of the future of Waterford City’s attractiveness.”

The plan would also serve to provide tourism-related alternatives to the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre, now a greatly diminished attraction since the KPS Capital buy-out.

“We can no longer rely on the easy access to the hundreds of thousands of visitors that the Glass automatically delivered to the city,” added Cllr Roche.

“So we must work innovatively and quickly on what will be Waterford’s attractiveness for visitors into the future, alongside what can be salvaged of Waterford Crystal.”