Last weekend’s Green Party conference, which attracted 350 delegates and 150 more support staff and media to the Tower Hotel, brought a welcome business boost to Waterford city centre.
Tramore-based Green Party member Stan Nangle said he canvassed for Waterford to host the conference at last year’s gathering in Wexford and was delighted with its success.
A large number of ambassadors representing countries like Britain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Norway, Nigeria, Cuba and more were present, with local hotels benefiting.
TV cameras filled the Tower Hotel ballroom and brought pictures via satellite link back to Dublin and beyond.
There were a number of protests but they passed off peacefully. Pro-hunting campaigners were the most numerous, with an estimated several thousand taking to the city’s streets; as Stan Nangle joked, they even brought business to the city, as many stopped in hotels like Dooleys or the Granville for a meal, a pint and a chat.
We spoke to one protester who reckoned they had 8,000 there but Gardaí put the figure at 3,000. Other demonstrators included groups ranging from education to the Friends of St Patrick’s Hospital to political left-wingers. Joe Higgins, the new Dublin Socialist MEP, was in Waterford speaking about the financial crisis during Saturday afternoon. The Waterford Council of Trade Unions led a protest and also the People Before Profit Alliance.
There was a strong security presence with extra Garda officers both inside and outside the conference venue: with so many diplomats and ministers in the city, no chances were being taken. Liam Langton and his team did an admirable job with traffic and people management, while the Greens’ local input ensured proper logistics.
See The Munster Express newspaper for full story and photos.