The Waterford Council of Trade Unions hit back today at “unprovoked attacks” directed at the Council over its objection to the proposed KRM mixed-use development in the city centre. Incoming Council Secretary Marie Butler described “ongoing negative comments” on its stance in the matter as nothing short of scapegoating by people attempting to cover up their own failings.

Ms. Butler enquires: “Where were the so-called champions of Waterford when the WCTU campaigned and fundraised for the Kidney Dialysis’ unit and was forced to go to trade union members and the general public for funding”?

An angry Ms. Butler further asks: “Where were the so-called champions of Waterford when the WCTU campaigned again for workshops for the intellectually disabled, or when it was forced to fundraise for the Care of the Aged, the Meals on Wheels service and Assisi house, the regional sports centre etc etc. Where were the so-called champions of Waterford when it was left to hard pressed workers to dig deep on so many other occasions to support the development of our city”?

And she poses other questions: “Where were the so-called champions of Waterford when the WCTU organised and supported the demand for cancer services and brought thousands on to the streets of Waterford
and Dublin? Where were they when workers in factories fundraised to buy buses to take cancer patients to their treatment centres?

“Where were they when the WCTU led 20,000 onto the streets to expose the gross exploitation of workers and the fact that some employers and operators of big business were paying as little as €2 an hour?

“Where were they when what could only be described as slave ships came into our port and trade unions were left to find food and water for unpaid crew?

“Why is it that the
WCTU has to go from workplace to workplace asking companies and trade union members to fundraise for the development of Solas, the Cancer Support Centre for cancer patients and their families in the South East?


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“How is it that the so-called champions of Waterford do not recognise the role of trade union workers in their community and in society, where have they been for the last 20 years of social partnership, which gives trade unions an indisputable role in their community and society in general?

“Why is it the self-claimed champions of Waterford fill their newspaper columns with stories dredged up from the past, creating a biased image of Waterford and its trade unions that is no longer relevant? How does this help the City Council showcase Waterford, or politicians secure new business”?

“Why is it that the self-claimed champions of Waterford ignore possible sites of economic development such as Ballybricken and instead build hundreds of apartments and no amenities and turn one of the few remaining green spaces into a roundabout”?

“Why is it that they slate the WCTU for their stand on the KRM development and yet remain quiet when the planned new railway station appears to be put on the long finger, when the Ard Ri site is left deteriorate after the development on the north wharf fell through and the Ferrybank development stalled? Where were the so-called champions of Waterford then, when those construction workers were laid off and the promised retail jobs did not materialise?

“Where were the so called champions of Waterford when local residents and those in surrounding areas raised issues about the height of certain developments, the amount of traffic they would generate and the real danger of said areas becoming no-go at night? Why was it left to the WCTU, individual residents, the Department of the Environment and others to raise these concerns?

“Why did the so-called champions of Waterford dismiss these concerns as anti development and anti Waterford”?

“Why is it that the self-claimed champions of Waterford have not credited the WCTU for its ongoing demands through the years for a university and a second bridge? Some 45 years later only one has being delivered. How has this helped the development of our city”?

Ms. Butler concluded that those who really had Waterford’s interests at heart knew why the so-called champions of Waterford had turned on trade unions and their supporters, who were unequivocally in favour of the development of their city. It was because they needed someone to hide behind, because someone had to take the blame for their failure to influence and persuade those who could do so, to develop the city and bring it alive.

Last week in this newspaper City Councillor Mary Roche called on the WCTU executive to resign en masse on account of opposition it has voiced to the KRM development. But also targeted by Ms. Butler is a columnist with another local newspaper who has consistently criticised the unions for their stance on a variety of matters relating to the city’s development.