Saturday, 24th February 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Forget the first 100 days, Leo’s first 100 hours were mighty!

Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

“Just where were ALL the people?”

A “BIG, BIG” well done to ALL the people from Waterford, Wexford, Tipp, Kilkenny and the wider South East region, who ventured by car, bus and train, to the Dáil last Tuesday, the 4th of July.

This was certainly not our “Independence Day”.

To those who had to take timeout from family holiday activities, booked a day’s annual leave and rearranged meeting appointments to travel to Dublin – “I salute each and every one of you!” The most precious time we can give to any cause is our own free time. To give this up for the benefit of others, is a very special commitment and sacrifice that so few, in reality, are really willing to make.

I would estimate that around 200 people gathered for 1 o’clock, outside Leinster House’s imposing black wrought iron gates. To be met by a few keepers of the peace, who were obviously expecting us. Thankfully, they seemed in good spirits. Happily, no water protest aggression shown to the people of the South East.

Those who took time to count the attendees on the 4th of July, would find the numbers disappointingly low, very, very low. To be honest, appallingly low and therefore relatively insignificant to Messrs Varadkar and Harris!

Waterford County’s population, according to the 2016 Census, is circa 116,000 and we saw less than 1% of that number travel to the capital! If you were to calculate attendees, as a representative percentage of the much quoted 500,000 people across the wider South East region, calculators would cough in embarrassment at the answer they spat out!

If we are being candid, to ourselves, in the cold light of day, we have to ask ourselves, “Just where were ALL the people?”

We know only far too well, that marches in Waterford City are very well attended. Seemingly getting very little constructive reaction from the corridors of power, in the Dáil. This was our - “One chance, just one chance...”, in the words of Mel Gibson, to show our Dublin centric leaders, that we must be taken seriously on the issue of 24/7 cardio care.

Where were ALL the social media keyboard warriors, who regularly contribute to posts on the various representative pages? Those people, who are so vociferous in their condemnation of the way we are being treated, had no voice on Tuesday 4th July. They simply could not be bothered to make the extra effort and travel to Dublin to be one of the faces in our protest rally. Those anonymous champions are championing what? Judging by numbers, they are NOT supporting the 24/7 cardio care!

I spoke to lots of people, who were in attendance and whilst many put on a brave face, you could see that they were all disheartened and saddened by such a small representation. The Gardaí were even expecting “Invading hordes”, from Ireland’s Oldest City. They were ready to close off more than just the immediate area outside the Dáil. Adequate resources were on duty to cover disruption to the whole of Kildare Street and probably Molesworth Street.

Sadly, I saw more people and tourists going in and out of the National Museum of Ireland, than protesting on Kildare Street. We truly are the “Quiet County”. Disturbingly, a plethora of opposition TDs, seeking their natural environment in front of a media camera, were promising 24/7 cardio care can be delivered, by them, if in power! Easier to say than to execute!

I have since managed to speak with a few more of the attendees, who made the round trip to Dublin. They ALL said the very same about the very low turnout. Just how deeply dispirited they felt with the inadequacy of the response. Where does the protest go from here? Some even asked where were all the “Hand on Heart”, higher profile celebrates? Their attendance, might have ensured more than the derisory 25 seconds of coverage from RTE.

How are the heroic efforts of these few, perceived by the deadly duo, Varadkar/ Harris and sit in the bigger scheme of their health service plans?

Our two protagonists no doubt returned to their “Golden Circle”, to discuss socks, rather than the health of the people of Waterford and the wider South East!!!!!


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