The year 2010 will be a testing time for Waterford. Many industries have gone, unemployment is high while crime and drug use are on the rise. There was a sense of despair at some points in 2009 but, as the year closes, the bottoming out of the economy and the plan to open a Glass Centre on The Mall gives us some cause for hope.
The Tanaiste has met Waterford politicians on a number of occasions and it is obvious that more needs to be done down here by the authorities in Dublin. Waterford and South East politicians need to have a united front so that the maximum is achieved. Our Minister Martin Cullen must be made to work hard and have the necessary will to succeed. After all, we as the electorate put him there and he must reciprocate. His salary and position are vulnerable if the government falls and, in the meantime, he will need to work harder in these difficult times.
Mr Cullen has shown much initiative in the Arts world, the idea of a new visitor at the Kennedy Homestead outside New Ross is a good one. Getting Waterford back on the major routes of tourism will be his test this year as many of the coaches threatened to withdraw due to Glass closure.
The opening of the new motorways from Dublin creates opportunities that must be seized upon as it opens the region up as never before. The early morning, two hour train service to Dublin is another great advantage. When the Irish economy recovers, it will probably be seen first in the capital and this is where the chances lie.
Galway is also just two hours away by road since December and watch them work at this strength. We also must show such determination and resolve and not be defeatist and think of the worst.
There are some good signs, but can they be grasped or will we see them lost? It is up to ourselves. We have a Minister in cabinet, a strong city manager, a good executive in the Chamber of Commerce and a committed city council so the recipe is there, the ingredients are available in terms of people’s ability.
Have we the foresight to see what lies ahead? Can Waterford move on from where it is now and put some of the past behind? We must strive for change and try and achieve a move forward not just complain on the ‘what might have been’ circumstances.