A Government-approved cash injection approaching €9 million for Waterford’s ‘Viking Quarter’ is being described in political circles as Martin Cullen’s ‘parting gift’ to the city.
The Munster Express has exclusively learned that Mr Cullen, whose cabinet career officially concluded yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, has secured €8.94 million for the area through the Tourism Capital Investment Programme.
The funding, which will be officially announced by Fáilte Ireland, will add further momentum to the regeneration of the city centre, with the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre’s development continuing at pace nearby.
“This is going to assist enormously in developing the Viking Quarter into an iconic tourist attraction, something which Martin is justly proud to be associated with,” according to a source.
“Obviously, he is disappointed to have left office with WIT still awaiting a decision on its submission for university status, and while he is confident that this objective will be ultimately delivered, this funding is, to coin the phrase, his parting gift to Waterford.”
The Viking Quarter pivots around Reginald’s Tower and includes Cathedral Square, Christ Church, the Theatre Royal, the Bishop’s Palace and 33, The Mall.
The relocation of City Council offices from the Bishop’s Palace to the former ESB building directly opposite, will pave the way for the creation of an 18th Century museum and gardens at the Palace.
A Medieval museum, due to open in mid-2012 is to be located to the rear of the Theatre Royal and will incorporate the exposed undercroft of the old city.
None of the Government funding will be invested in the new Crystal Visitor Centre, the source stressed.
“Obviously, having the visitor centre within proximity of the Viking Triangle is an added bonus when it comes to this area fulfilling its undoubted tourist potential,” added the source.
“The next few years promise to be enormously exciting for Waterford. With the M9 now almost complete, another project that Martin is justly proud of, and local initiatives being driven forward by the City Council, Waterford Chamber and the Enterprise Board, there’s a lot to be optimistic about.”
Mary Hanafin was yesterday named as Martin Cullen’s successor as Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
New Ross-based Fianna Fáil Deputy Sean Connick has been appointed to the junior cabinet where he will be joined by Kilkenny’s Green Party TD Mary White.