Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin was in Kilkenny last Friday to address the conference for the Associated City and County Councils, and to canvas the city for a ‘Yes’ vote on the fiscal treaty.
The minister went on a walkabout of the city hosted by local Labour Party Deputy Ann Phelan. He said that the establishment of a university in the southeast was something he hoped to see in his term of office, as part of an over-arching policy to ensure growth in the region.
“Kilkenny City looks very prosperous,” he said.
“I know that like everywhere else, business is under pressure. But there’s a great entrepreneurship in Kilkenny, I see it when I walk around. The southeast is under pressure, there are drivers that need to be put in place such as a university.”
He said that a ‘Yes’ vote on the stability compact would give the best chance of recovery.
“The treaty is an extremely important part of the recovery programme,” he said.
“People who say to vote ‘No’ – the one way to ensure we have more austerity is to vote ‘No’.”
It was put to the Labour minister that Carlow-Kilkenny TDs had in the past expressed an openness to altering the Croke Park Agreement at some stage. Minister Howling challenged local Fianna Fail Deputy John McGuinness’ assertion that the Croke Park agreement should be renegotiated.
“What does he want to do?” asked Minister Howlin.
“What is the existence of Croke Park doing? What is Croke Park preventing us from doing that we’d like to do?”