Latest headlines from Waterford City and County.
"It is clear to me that agriculture and agri-business is and will be the principal driver of economic growth in the South East and indeed in much of the Country. The economic impact of Milk Expansion under Harvest 2020, and beyond 2020, is very significant. The 1,600 jobs for all the counties of the South East and further afield, which will be established and facilitated by this plant, will be matched pro-rata by other milk expansion plans in all the dairy counties across the country", so said Phil Hogan TD at a ground-breaking event for a new Glanbia plant at Belview today.
The Minister was speaking after he officially broke the ground at the site where a new milk processing plant will be built. Plans to build the €150m plant at Belview Port on the Kilkenny-Waterford border were announced recently by Glanbia, which produces leading household brands such as Avonmore milk and Kilmeaden cheese.
Enterprise Ireland, the state agency which supports Irish companies, said it would back Glanbia's plans. The company is the biggest milk producer in the country.
It is expected that there will be 450 construction roles as the factory is built in addition to the conservative estimate of 1,600 jobs that will be created as a result of the plant’s operations. In addition to this it is estimated that the plant will contribute around €400m a year to the local economy.
"Glanbia and the South East are and will be a world centre of excellence for milk and milk ingredient production. I believe that the South East will now also excel in support industries for all aspects of agri-business, manufacturing and engineering, technology software and innovation, research and development and environmental management and improvement", said Minister Hogan.
The Minister also took the opportunity to pay tribute to Waterford City Council for the superb state of the art waste water facility they have put in place, which will serve this plant and hopefully many other plants across Waterford and Kilkenny, and to the IDA and Kilkenny County Council for their joint venture which delivered the Belview Strategic Water Supply. The development of the Belview Strategic Water Supply Scheme is a key enabler to the progression of the South East Gateway to Ireland and the South East region as a whole. This progression is heavily dependent on the advancement of infrastructure such as water, waste water treatment, power supply, telecoms etc, within the area.
Independent TD for Waterford, Deputy John Halligan in a hard-hitting and fortright statement has said attempts by local Pro Life acitivists to intimidate and coerce him last weekend have only strengthened his resolve to push for abortion legislation in cases of rape or severe foetal abnormalities.
Deputy Halligan was referring to an altercation on the Prom in Tramore on Sunday in which a group of Pro-life activists approached him and in his own words "subjected me to abuse over my recent call for a constitutional referendum to legislate for abortion in rape cases and situations where a foetus is unviable."
Deputy Halligan made a strong statement on the issue in Dail Eireann recently which received national and international publicity and has put him at odds with the Pro-Life organisation in Waterford and elsewhere throughout the country.
Commenting on the exchange on Sunday he said: "The exchange was quite sinister. At one point, one of the group told me I should ‘bury myself in a hole.’ I have no problem with reasonable debate on this issue but this was a busy afternoon with families with children all around. It was not the time nor the place."
Later that night, at around midnight, Deputy Halligan said 16 pieces of literature signed by one of the activists were pushed through the letterbox of his Waterford city home.
"I find it insensitive and offensive that anybody would think it is acceptable to come to my house after midnight to deliver this literature. I have already made my own views and position perfectly clear in the Dail. This attempt at intimidation will not work. If anything, it will strengthen my resolve on the matter."
Mr. John D. Walsh, a prominent Pro-Life activist in Waterford city said the comments by Deputy Halligan were wide of the mark. They had a reasonable discussion. "I fully respect him as a public representative but we had a point of view to make. I said that we were going to Leinster House on Wednesday next and we would see him there."
Mr. Walsh said that when he went home he noted that Deputy Halligan had put out a tweet on the matter which stated that he had no way of "rowing with them". I had some literature and I just signed it with my name and said "thanks for the tweet."
I live near John Halligan and was passing by and put the literature through his letterbox."
Mr. Walsh downplayed the whole incident and said it was all very civilised and they all worked in a democracy. He also mentioned that members of Deputy Halligan’s family were also involved in the Pro-Life organisation in Waterford.
However, Deputy Halligan was adamant that the behaviour of the Pro-Life activists was totally unacceptable. He also mentioned that TD’s from other parties had referred to appalling behaviour by pro-life activists over the weekend. He said his views on the need for legislation would not change and the attitude of the people he had met over the weekend had only made his resolve more firm. Deputy Halligan said he would not be meeting the Pro-Life delegation on Wednesday as he had a previous engagement with two Barristers on the possible lodging of a case in the European Courts of Justice on the issue.
Find Your Family History And Have Afternoon Tea!
As part of the Gathering, St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford are delighted to have Genealogist Ann Marie Coghlan who will be resident in the church during the afternoon teas over the summer months. Ann Marie will help people who are interested in finding out their family history in the area. This is a free service and is available to both locals and visitors. We will be serving our old fashioned afternoon teas for charity as well, so this will be a lovely opportunity for those searching out their roots. Ann Marie will be available from Sat 25th May and every Saturday in June. If you wish to contact Ann Marie she can be found on email@example.com
Fine Gael TD John Deasy says senior consultants at Ardkeen have questions to answer as to why, having spearheaded a public campaign for the retention of the South East Hospital Group, they dramatically changed tack mid-campaign and entered into negotiations that ultimately led to Waterford being linked to Cork University Hospital.
Last November, a week before they met with organisers of what became the ‘Save Waterford’ campaign, Waterford Today published a front-page story in which Deputy Deasy warned it was "time people began questioning the individuals who are responsible for representing WRH."
He did so having arranged meetings between specialists at Ardkeen, senior HSE officials, and government TDs from the region – only to find "the performance of these senior consultants was underwhelming to say the least.
"They are the ones who needed to make the argument based on medical best practice and they failed miserably. In my opinion others from the regional hospital need to step in immediately to rescue this situation before it’s too late," he said at the time.
Now, with the Higgins Report’s recommendations for six new groupings adopted by Government, he wants to know what prompted the consultants to do a u-turn.
"For six months the emphasis was on keeping the South East Hospital Group together, with the priorities being patient safety and the future of Waterford Regional Hospital. We had reached agreement politically for that to happen. But for some reason the consultants in Ardkeen decided after six months of campaigning that it wasn’t the best option.
"They need to explain why not, particularly given that the agreement reached to keep the South East Hospital Group together incorporated almost every element of the deal finally reached with regard to Cork," Mr Deasy said.
Genealogist Ann Marie who will be hosting a free family history service in St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Dungarvan from Sat 25th May as part of the Gathering.
"I am deeply saddened by the announcement by Citi Bank that it is to close its Waterford office with the loss of 50 direct jobs. This is a very damaging blow to the employees and their families, and also to the wider local and regional economy" stated Cllr. Larry O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of the South-East Regional Authority, reacting to the announcement.
The Regional Authority Cathaoirleach said that these job losses will have a deep impact in Waterford and the South-East which has not yet come to terms with the many other redundancies in the last 2/3 years. In acknowledging recent job announcements such as at Nypro, Glanbia and FeedHenry, Cllr. O’Brien stated, "The closure of this office must be viewed in the context of the South-East Region’s loss of a significant number of jobs in recent times and the ongoing very poor employment performance of the Region".
"It is vital that the Government, the development and enterprise support agencies and all of the regional stakeholders continue to work collectively to bring about more sustained growth and more jobs throughout the region", said Cllr. O’Brien. "The South-East has been directly impacted more than any other region by the economic downturn, a fact reflected in extremely high unemployment figures well above the national average. The South-East Employment Action Plan and Minister Bruton’s South-East Forum must provide a coherent focus and ensure that the South-East Region remains at the forefront of government development and investment priorities", he said.
"The jobs being lost at Citi Bank are high-quality graduate-based skilled jobs, the very type of job that we are trying to get into the Region. Again, I call on the Government and the enterprise support agencies to intensify their efforts to attract employment and job opportunities to the South-East Region", Cllr. O’Brien stated.
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