Biffo, start smiling: Leaders are meant to inspire. In times of trouble, they’re meant to reassure. They ought to give us something to believe in. But right now, Taoiseach Brian Cowen isn’t doing any of the above.

Sure, it’s a tough economic period; no one is disputing that. But the last thing we need is a Taoiseach with a permanent hangdog impression who appears so put down by the whole lot that he looks like he’d rather be doing something else.

Things may not improve in the short term, but by even addressing issues in a more positive way and with a more positive demeanour, Mr Cowen would be doing both himself and the nation a huge favour. And smiling involves less muscle use than frowning too!

The Taoiseach is in a privileged position and it’s time he began embracing his office.

Travellers, stop fighting: The general public cares not a whit whether it’s a minority of Travellers involved in the ongoing feud in Waterford or not. What they do care about is their own safety and that of their friends and neighbours.

It is sad to state that in certain parts of the city and despite the best efforts of the Gardaí, these safeguards cannot be vouched for.

The recent savagery inflicted upon a horse and two ponies at Ballybeg and Williamstown marked a vile turn in an increasingly toxic sequence of events.

What all this violence and civil disobedience will lead to is something few of us would even dare to contemplate. And if the violence does escalate, then what will have to be done to untangle this poisonous knot? The violence is a stain on our city and a major headache for both lawmakers and law enforcers.

Batt, stop stalling on WIT: That the Government has yet to give WIT an official answer to its university upgrade submission is now beyond the realms of disgrace.

Both Batt O’Keeffe and his predecessor Mary Hanafin have offered no more than guff-brimming claptrap when repeatedly asked about when a decision will be made on WIT’s submission.

“Contrary to some of the newspaper articles published prior to its full release, Dr Port’s report is a ringing endorsement presented in clear and unambiguous language noting that the Institute has ‘an academic maturity and an activity profile’ similar to universities in Ireland and other Western countries.”

The above comment was made by WIT Director Kieran Byrne in reaction to Dr Jim Port’s Government sanctioned report into the Institute’s submission, which WIT made in February 2006. By the way, he made this particular comment on February 20th 2008.

Taking only this issue into account, the National Spatial Strategy appears as dead a policy making duck as decentralisation. WIT deserves better. Waterford deserves better. The South East deserves better.

Waterford’s hurlers, keep believing: A New Year, as I comment on in more depth on Sport 1, brings with it the prospect of new challenges, of renewing confidence and restoring hope on the field of play. These words ring readily true for the Deise’s hurlers.

What transpired in Croke Park last September was traumatic from a Waterford perspective, one of the great beatings of all time, albeit inflicted by one of the greatest teams of all time. But it must not become this county’s hurling epitaph.

Last Sunday night in Galway, I sat, almost in disbelief, as the rugby men of Connacht got the better of European champions Munster in the Magners League.

They’d not tasted victory over the men in red on home soil since 1979. It was only their third league win of the entire season. They were not overawed by their opponents. They cared not a whit for Munster’s reputation. They saw them as flesh and blood and that’s how they treated them – and the day was famously won.

Player for player, are Connacht better than Munster? No. Player for player, are Waterford better than Kilkenny? No. But that’s not the point.

With heart, with self-belief, with passion and with pride, anything is possible in sport. Waterford must maintain their belief, for their day at the top will come. 

Happy New Year to one and all!