The power of Waterford Crystal was made evidently once more this week through the considerable interest expressed in the jobs advertisement for the new Visitor Centre that features in this week’s edition.
And ‘The Glass’, both old and new, remains big news.
A well-attended meeting regarding the EU’s Globalisation Fund and the potential benefits it may bring to former Waterford Crystal workers was held at the Granville Hotel on Monday night, with Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Paudie Coffey presiding.
While not all details regarding the fund have yet to be released, a European Commission Spokesman fielded several questions at the meeting regarding the fund.
The amount set to be provided per each former Waterford Crystal employee is not high – less than €5,000, but it would be paid in addition to other State allowances and can be used for training and development or for self-employment via the City and County Enterprise Boards.
There is up to €4 million in the aforementioned fund, a third of which must be matched by the Irish Government.
Many ex-‘Glass’ workers would love to return to work, but this may not be easy given that many are in their 50s and with unemployment levels high across all age groups.
Both Mr Kelly MEP and Senator Coffey are anxious that the funds are invested into practical courses including craft projects, tourism-related work or renewable energies rather than see money spent on irrelevant courses for older workers.
We sincerely hope that better times lie ahead for the former Crystal workers, a theme which ran through last week’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the city.
Last Wednesday’s parade, which was titled ‘Through the Looking Glass’, recalled the city’s great association with the production of crystal in this city, and passed directly in front of the new WWRD development on The Mall.
During his speech on Lá Féile Pádraig, Mayor John Halligan made reference to the new Visitor Centre and the pride he had in witnessing the resurrection of this iconic brand in the heart of our city.
The imminent opening of the Visitor Centre will provide a fresh impetus for tourism in the city. News which reached us just before going to press regarding a €9 million investment into the nearby Viking Quarter has somewhat softened the loss of a voice at the cabinet table.
Martin Cullen’s ‘parting gift’ to the city is set to add considerable impetus to Waterford City Council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the heart of the old city over the next two to three years.
And the area in question is already sprouting ‘green shoots’ of its own. The Tower Hotel, with whom we proudly co-sponsor the Waterford Person of the Year Awards (see News & Business 20), is investing in an upgrade of its rooms.
The iconic Munster Bar is due to re-open on The Mall, so the signs for the immediate area already look decidedly positive.
CBS News has already interviewed Mayor Halligan regarding the WWRD and Viking Quarter projects and a major promotion to accompany the Visitor Centre’s official opening should create a welcome media frenzy.
The latest section of the M9, which opened on Monday last, now provides not only a 30-minute link to our neighbouring city of Kilkenny, but draws us even closer to the capital.
By the autumn (or perhaps as soon as June if rumours are to be believed), Waterford will be only 90 minutes from Dublin, a legacy, which, as MEP Liam Aylward statet this week, Martin Cullen can be justly proud of.