It is my pleasure to officially close this landmark conference as part of our committee’s contribution to the celebrations of Kilkenny’s four hundredth year as a city.
Kilkenny‘s Municipal Policy Committee was formed in 2008 to capture the energy and progressive thinking of members of the local authority which has served this city so well over 400 years, and to act as the driver for the building of the city and its vibrant life into the future. We have non-elected members representing all the key areas of Kilkenny life from business to the community and voluntary sector to the sporting world. The findings of today’s conference will inform much of the work of the committee, regardless of who the members are in the future.
We have heard much that is positive today from people and leaders whom we admire greatly. Some of our speakers have a phenomenal track record as ‘can-do’ entrepreneurs, and will hopefully inspire others in these difficult times to keep their heads up and to build new businesses which will form the backbone of our city’s recovery and future advances.
In particular, Robert Kerr knows that the spirit of his late father lives in these surroundings as Bobby acted as friend and business confidante to Mingha Flannery, the power behind the Carmel Hotel in whose back garden this fine hotel now stands, a garden in which my own wedding to her equally formidable daughter was celebrated nineteen years ago.
We will leave here today enthused and confident that Kilkenny and our region and country can build a solid base for the next four hundred years. I also believe however that in being positive about the possibility of regenerating business or helping it grow, we must also remember those who make our businesses work and whose earnings create the market which our businesses exist to supply.
The workers of Kilkenny have an equally proud tradition in the commercial life of this city. They too will play a central role in our development in the future, and any ‘New Deal’ which fails them and their families will struggle to succeed.
There are business owners in Kilkenny who have had huge struggles with the pain that their employees are suffering in the recent past, employers who have found it extremely difficult to see loyal workers who are virtually part of their families let go or have their hours or wages reduced.
Likewise most workers are responsible in recognising the genuine difficulties some of their employers face and many have made great sacrifices to ensure the future viability of the companies in which they work.
There is also unfortunately an increasing feeling of discontent among some workers that a tiny minority of employers are behaving less honourably in terms of protecting and respecting the rights and livelihoods on which they and their families rely for dignity. I believe that we need to ensure that this fear is removed.
It is vital that dialogue takes place in the workplace in which workers can play an active part in devising the strategies on which the survival and regeneration of their companies will be based. A failure to do so will shut us as political and business leaders off from a potential fount of ideas which may add greatly to our futures. Mar a dhéarfadh Peig Sayers agus muintir an Bhlascaoid, ‘Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’, and never in our recent history have we needed more to live under a common, community-oriented but positive joint shelter, relying on each other’s ingenuity to pull us through. Never have we needed more to believe in each other’s potential for creativity and innovation. None of us, employer or employee, has a monopoly of wisdom about the next step.
Finally I would like to warmly thank the officials who did so much to make this conference happen. To John McCormack, Director of Services and our city manager, along with Brian Tyrrell, who have facilitated our work in such a positive manner. To County Manager, Joe Crockett, who constantly acts as a breath of fresh air, never accepting complacency or conservative solutions to problems when they can be replaced with ‘thinking outside the box’. To all of the other speakers we send our best wishes and our hope that you will continue to invest your time, talents and Euros in driving our city and country forward. Thank you also to the staff and management of the Rivercourt Hotel who have co-operated in every way with the organisation of this event.
Mile buíochas díbhse ar fad mar lucht éisteachta ar maidin. Your presence here shows your commitment to our future development and perhaps your search for the idea or strategy which will allow your business to drive forward. Le cúnamh Dé tiocfaidh fiúntas as obair an lae inniu agus déanfaidh sé a chuid chun ár gcathair a thabhairt ar aghaidh go cheithre chéad blian iontach eile. Slán abhaile díbh ar fad.