Saturday, September 11, 2010

McGuinness impressed with new House of Waterford Crystal

Some time ago I invited Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to visit the South East region. Martin is part of an all Ireland trade delegation visiting the United States later this year. He will attend an important economic development conference organised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I am delighted Martin has accepted the invitation to visit Waterford and the new House of Waterford Crystal ahead of the U.S. trip.

Speaking today Mr. McGuinness said:

I am delighted to be here in the South East today meeting with business, trade union, community and civic leaders.

I thank the Mayor of Waterford City Councillor Mary Roche for hosting a reception. I commend the efforts of local people and civic leaders who are trying to create enterprise opportunities in Waterford.

I am thrilled to be visiting the house of Waterford Crystal. I was saddened when I first heard the Kilbarry plant was to close and Waterford and Ireland faced losing an iconic brand. It was a loss not to just to Waterford but to the island of Ireland.

My heart went out to all the workers and I was moved by their courage when I saw the images on Television of the workers engaged in a sit in.

Today we have a different situation. The new House of Waterford Crystal is a top class facility. I want to commend all of those who were part of this exciting venture. The people of Waterford should be very proud of this gem in the heart of the city.

It was a remarkable effort by a lot of people to make all of this possible. The collective effort of Waterford City Council, trade union and business leaders to back this plan is a shining example of what can be achieved through genuine partnership, good will and dare I say taking a risk.

I hope that those former workers who are without jobs and pensions are supported and find new employment.

I also want to support the campaign for University designation for Waterford Institute of Technology. The arguments for W.I.T. becoming a university are unassailable.

I visited W.I.T. on the last occasion I was in Waterford. I was hugely impressed by the facilities, the range of courses and the research and development capacity at the institute. University designation would lift the entire region economically, socially and culturally.
I was reminded by the Mayor of Waterford that today is the second anniversary of the sinking of the Irish Sail Training Ship, the STV Asgard II. The Tall Ships fleet visited Belfast in the past and will visit Waterford next year.

I think the island of Ireland should have a ship and a sail training programme. I will raise the idea of an all-Ireland venture at the executive of the assembly and at a future meeting of the north south Ministerial council.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Waterford today. I know we face tough times ahead but as the new Waterford Crystal venture shows, by working together people can make a difference.

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