Fair play to the former Minister for Arts and Culture, Martin Cullen, for pushing through the funds for the Viking quarter. We understand that there will be €9m in total. The plan is to have everything in place for 2014 when Waterford will celebrate 1100 years as a city. A new museum in the Bishop’s Palace is envisaged with many of the city’s priceless artifacts designated to be hosted there.
This should be open by 2012 and the City Council staff currently in the building will be facilitated across the road in the refurbished former ESB building that is currently being reconstructed as the Crystal Visitor Centre. A Minister’s spokesman pointed out that this money was totally different to the funds going into the visitor centre. At a time of major government cutbacks, Waterford is managing to hold on to this capital spend.
Waterford ‘s future is linked to tourism as much industry has moved elsewhere. We saw last weekend how conferences, such as the Green Party gathering in the Tower and a Viking Congress, attracted over 700 persons filling the hotels and restaurants. One gift trader said he had the busiest time since he started business last year. Even the protesters helped out, the hunt protest brought thousands in also for meals and drinks, giving another welcome boost.
The economy is in a dreadful period with minus 11 per cent growth recorded last year and another minus this year. Putting new money into Bank of Ireland and AIB will help this week but why waste more on Anglo Irish?
We need to boost the trading economy. This Viking quarter investment will bring returns with overseas tourism. It is a positive step and the more we can shout about it around the country the better. There is goodwill towards Waterford. Visitors saw the closed shops around the city and noticed the difficulties here.
Public investment is needed to turn things around.