Government should never have left Galway begging for race aid

The clock is ticking down fast on tomorrow’s deadline for Galway’s bid to be chosen as a stopover port for the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race and what is our Government doing about ensuring that we get this — practically nothing.

As we go to press tonight, the matter is due to be raised at the Cabinet meeting, and it may all be sorted by the time you read this, but it should never have gone to this game of brinkmanship. Perception is very important in winning political races like this and the reality is that while the French and Portuguese governments have written the cheque for Lorient and Lisbon ages ago, Galway is still waiting at the edge of that cabinet table like Oliver Twist, waiting for crumbs and begging for more.

In terms of justifying the value of this investment, it really is a no-brainer. Invest €8 million now and see €50 million come back as well as creating many subsidiary jobs in the hostelries and businesses of the west. Long term too, it would be a solid investmehnt as it would underwrite Galway’s maritime abilities and make the job of seeking investment for the port development all the easier in the decade ahead.

The amount of money that needs to be promised at this stage (and we stress only promised )is but a drop in the ocean of what will be generated if the race stops here once again.

The surveys undertaken since the race left and published last autumn showed that the decision to base a stopover in Galway created 200,000 bed nights in this region, and the spinoff both financially and psychologically helped Galway and the west get through what was for many others, a difficult summer.

Already Lorient (ironically a sister city of Galway ) and Lisbon in Portugal have their funding in place and it would be a shame if Galway were to lose out over what would be a gilt edge investment by the Government.

Galway should have an edge because of the excellence of its stopover last year and now it seems that we are going to throw all the hard work away, shatter the feelgood factor that was created, all because we cannot get the promise of the funding we need.

If that funding is not promised by tomorrow, then the chance for repeating the glorious fortnight of last summer will be gone. There is no doubt that if this hurdle is overcome; if our Government ministers and deputies show that they have confidence in Galway to do it all again, then the bid will be sucessful.

This is a true test of our public representatives. It’s sink or swim.

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