Chamber News

With only 40% of electricity used throughout the year in Ireland coming from clean generation, the Government intends to increase it to 70% by 2030 and have charged EirGrid with making the grid ready to ensure this happens.

Part of the EirGrid strategy was to conduct a series of consultation webinars, one of which Waterford Chamber hosted, where EirGrid’s Chief Innovative and Planning Officer Liam Ryan and Head of Future Networks Robbie Aherne explained the four approaches to attaining this 70% target.

“To achieve this target, we need to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels as clean electricity is a key decarbonising component in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. We need to add more energy from the wind and the sun to the power system. This means that Ireland’s electricity grid will need to carry more power from renewable energy sources that vary, depending on the weather, and this power will need to be carried over longer distances. As a result, we need to make the grid stronger and more flexible.,” stated Mr Ryan.

The four options being considered by EirGrid and for which they are seeking public input are:

  1. Generation-Led - Plan for electricity generation at the most suitable locations; place it beside the major load centre, close to Dublin.
  1. Developer-Led - Continue to develop the grid on a project-by-project basis in any location; let the developers decide.
  1. Technology-Led - Change the technology used for the grid infrastructure; use new proven technologies in a different way.
  1. Demand-Led: The location of large energy users is decided by government policy; place close to sources which could bring more people into the regions.

As Robbie Aherne said: “All four options are different and will provoke debate and that’s why we are undertaking extensive public consultation. Option 1 is highly likely to succeed; Option 2 is unlikely and it would not be deliverable before 2030; Option 3 would require high voltage underground cables to transport power in bulk underground and would be very challenging to complete on time; and Option 4 would require large electricity users to located in preferred locations to succeed.  The final solution may well be a blend. We can’t make this decision on our own - we need feedback from business, communities, the public, and from the younger generation also.

“Some of the approaches depend on the actions of stakeholders to succeed and all approaches need timely public consent, which is why we are consulting so extensively,” he added.

As well as working with Waterford Chamber, through Chambers Ireland, and with other chambers within the network, EirGrid is also working with Irish Rural Link and the National Youth Council. The company will also host an industry forum for generation companies and developers, large energy users and suppliers, as well as hosting a Civic Society Forum including academia, agriculture, community, environment, sustainable development, and social justice as well as a public forum, like the Citizens’ Assemblies run by the Government.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber: “The move to clean electricity will affect everyone in Ireland so this is an ideal opportunity for people to share their views. Waterford Chamber will most certainly be submitting a response by the deadline of 12 noon on 14th June 2021 as we feel this is a great opportunity for us to play our part in finding the best way of shaping Ireland’s electricity future.”

Following a meeting of Chamber CEOs, Chambers Ireland (30 March 2021) calls on Government to use the time wisely and ensure we can plan for a sustainable reopening.

Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “With this lockdown lasting much longer than anticipated, our members are experiencing many difficulties and justifiable frustrations. Chambers Ireland appreciates how difficult it is to balance the reopening with virus suppression because we know that the business community cannot face another brief reopening, followed by spike in infections, and a further lockdown. But Government must recall that individuals, businesses, and local economies are all facing challenges too.”

The following recommendations come from dialogue with our Chamber Chief Executives.

Suppress the Virus Locally

“To get us through the summer, public health teams need resources to test, trace and isolate so that we can identify sources of infection. We have no time to waste and focused government action is required to suppress the virus in locations where transmission is still high.”

Embrace Ambition in Urban Centres

“We need to see Government, local authorities and elected officials embrace ambition, by re-imagining our high street and urban centres. This will include everything from pedestrian-friendly reforms that incentivise ‘dwell-time’ to enabling businesses to use streets and footpaths for outdoor dining.”


“Finally, communities also need more guidance and supports on how to reduce transmission in homes and shared space. New strains of the virus bring new challenges. Guidance on how to properly ventilate buildings is urgently needed.”

Clear guidance on duration of financial supports

“When a reopening finally occurs, many businesses will see their lockdown debts threaten their long-term viability, government must take action to ensure that those which can survive, do survive.”

Sectoral Meet Ups

Waterford Local Enterprise Office is joining forces with Waterford Chamber to facilitate a new sectoral ‘Meet-up’ offering.

Designed to bring like-minded professionals together in a private and confidential online setting, the Meet-ups will be focused on learning and a sharing of ideas and are completely free to attend.

The pandemic has meant that people cannot network in the way they used to, and these Meet-ups will provide a platform to do just that. We all need to learn from our peers and this will be industry specific. We are going to begin the series for three sectors – marketing, finance and HR, but we are certainly open to other suggestions.

To book your free place, please see details below.

Sectoral meet-up: Marketing
Venue: Online - Zoom
Date: Thursday, 25th March
Time: 1pm to 2pm

Sectoral meet-up: Finance
Venue: Online - Zoom
Date: Thursday, 22nd April
Time: 1pm to 2pm

Sectoral meet-ups: HR
Venue: Online - Zoom
Date: Thursday, 27th May
Time: 1pm to 2pm

Chambers Ireland today (23 Feb 2021) says three month extension not long enough and calls on Government to leave incremental half-measures in the past, and start afresh with an expansive, data-driven plan to support business through the impact of COVID-19.

Speaking this evening, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “The extension of existing financial supports is good news, as it reduces some of the uncertainty for businesses. Yet, right across our Network, there is the very real concern that Government is still failing to engage with the reality of the situation facing our local economies.

“Wage supports, commercial rates waivers and debt warehousing will be needed for most of 2021. While the announcements this evening are welcome, the business community fears we will be back in this position again in a few short months, seeking clarity on further extensions. The need to rebuild business confidence is now critical.

“Since the start of the year, Chambers Ireland has warned that existing financial supports do not go far enough - too many businesses are left out. For many that are eligible, the existing rates of support do not go far enough, given the scale of economic shock facing the most vulnerable sectors and the length of time they have been impacted.

“Debts for many businesses are mounting, and the supports available are rarely enough to offset them. When a reopening finally occurs, many businesses will see their lockdown debts threaten their long-term viability.

“None of our members want to risk a Fourth Wave, combined with another lockdown. Chambers Ireland urges for a measured, conservative, data-driven approach to re-opening the economy which includes realistic supports for, and better communication with, restricted businesses.

“Reducing, if not eradicating, community transmission will be essential for businesses to re-open safely. Ensuring the reopening is sustainable is another key challenge. Robust public-health measures must be in place to prevent the introduction of new strains of the virus. Without them we will undermine our progress in reducing transmission, which has come at such great sacrifice to so many, while also running the risk of undermining our own vaccine programme.

“There is growing frustration throughout the business community regarding the COVID-19 communications and guidance. Trust is easily lost, and hard earned. Many business owners are losing their faith in the adequacy of the Government response, and if this happens, we are very concerned that it will erode adherence to the public health protocols.

“We are now 12 months on from the first case of COVID-19 in Ireland. Chambers Ireland hopes the new Government strategy will be a fresh start, and an opportunity for us to use the lessons of the past year to suppress the virus while supporting local economies.”

The Port of Waterford building in George’s Street, home to Waterford Chamber, is going green for St Patrick’s Day and we are asking our members to follow suit.

Get in touch if you would like green filters for your exterior lights or join in the fun by dressing your window. You can also get involved at home.

Waterford is to be the host to Ireland’s largest virtual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Over the coming weeks we are asking the community of Waterford to plan a parade at home or in your garden, all within the current restrictions. Dress up and parade around your garden, your street, your green and record a short video to upload to a dedicated Facebook group page. Waterford needs you, the Community, to play your part in bringing to life our annual Parade, with all your heart and soul.

Watch out across Waterford City and County as our landmark buildings go green in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. The Waterford City parade route will be flooded in green lighting on and before St. Patrick’s Day, as will many of our iconic buildings across Waterford County.

Fáilte Ireland are engaging with RTE in the hope of attracting more coverage for these events when it all kicks off in mid March.

The online Story Map will capture the event in totality and give us a unique piece of digital social history with multiple promotional elements within. Highlights will include Thomas Francis Meagher Bypass Bridge, Kilmacthomas Viaduct, Metal Man Tramore, Reginald’s Tower and much more.

More details on this exciting project will be available on and the Waterford St Patrick's Day FB page.

Chambers Ireland today (22 Feb 2021) calls on Government to put climate action, urban renewal, and gender equality at the heart of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and National Development Plan.

Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “The key messages coming from our Network are that Government action must be accelerated and more ambitious.

“The Irish economy has faced incredible challenges over the past 12 months, the demands that the Brexit process and the Covid-19 crisis have put the political and administrative resources of the state under enormous pressure.

“Further, because of the economic constraints of the necessary public health response to the pandemic, and the compounding impact of Brexit, we are far from where we need to be if we are to meet the demands that the coming decades will place upon our capital infrastructure, our society, and our environment.

“However, it is our view that there is an opportunity for Government to refresh its approach to delivering for the long term needs of the economy. With the current availability of low-interest finance, we should be redoubling our investment in energy infrastructure and strategic transport.

“Moreover, as we consider how we can best support the wider economic recovery, the promised National Economic Plan should focus on upskilling our workforce, especially when it comes to digital skills, and supporting gender equality through investment in childcare.”

With respect to the proposed “Town Centre First” strategy, Chambers Ireland Head of Research Shane Conneely calls for a radical, joined-up approach to how we deliver for urban centres.

“Urban Living must be central to the National Development Plan. If we are to meet our 2030 climate targets, living in urban areas must become something that people aspire to. Our cities and towns need to become welcoming and attractive places to live.

“More, and better, urban living not only supports the objectives of the National Planning Framework, but building sustainable cities and communities helps people develop lifestyles which are more active and so are less carbon intensive.

“We know that cities and towns where people live are healthier business environments, but with the right investments they also support better quality of life too. People friendly streets are business friendly streets because the opportunities are where the customers are.

“There are broader effects too. Upgrading and reusing vacant premises will help us address social policy problems like the housing crisis, and will do so in ways that will consume less of our carbon budget.

“Meanwhile improving the physical stock of our cities and towns offers us an opportunity to efficiently retrofit those buildings which will not only reduce the cost of living for urban populations, but it will also have a disproportionately positive effect on reducing fuel poverty too.”

WIT External View 003 web

Following a meeting with Waterford Oireachtas members and a selection of its members, Waterford Chamber has reconfirmed its commitment to the process of securing a Technological University of the South East.

During the two-hour meeting, the elected officials heard from business representatives from various sectors and were also afforded the opportunity to address the concerns raised.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO of Waterford Chamber, what was clear from the robust discussion was the desire to get the Technological University over the line and to move forward to the application stage now with a renewed sense of positivity.

“Recent rhetoric around the headquarters is not helping the situation from a national perspective. Our Oireachtas members were very clear on a number of things, mainly that talk of a stand alone University was futile. The only option on the table is a regional Technological University and our efforts have to go into achieving this with the best possible outcome for Waterford.

“The Tanaiste has reiterated his preference for Waterford as the leading campus. It is in the Programme for Government and our speculation is only adding fuel to a fire that is only stemming from Waterford. It’s not helping and has to stop.

“What is encouraging is that the expected political point scoring has been parked on this issue. All of our Oireachtas members are united in their desire to deliver a Technological University for Waterford and are collectively and independently making representation to Government. We now need to trust in the process and send a message to Government that Waterford confirms its support for the TU as outlined in Project Ireland 2040 and the Regional & Economic Spatial Strategy.

“Over the past number of months Waterford Chamber has had frequent correspondence and meetings with Minister Harris and even last week, he wrote to us to clarify a number of points we had addressed.

“In it he stated: ‘Commentary regarding Kilkenny in recent weeks is misleading. I am not aware of any such plans for a headquarters in Kilkenny. Such conjecture, at this critical stage in the development process or, indeed, at any stage, is divisive and counterproductive. TUs can only come into being in the first place and prosper thereafter if all parties come together and work together. At this critical time, our concentration must be on getting the application in and over the line.’

“He went on to add: ‘I want to see the footprint in Waterford expanded and capital will be forthcoming to facilitate that. Normal business plans and appraisal processes need to be gone through. This is an opportunity to significantly expand the footprint in Waterford. That will include more students and investment, and a wider availability of courses. That is what I want to see for Waterford and the new technological university for the South East.’

“As a business community we now need to get behind this process and our Oireachtas members were very clear in saying having such support is hugely important and we are encouraging all our members to get on board.

“So to clarify where we are at right now – in the coming weeks there will be a vote of staff in both institutes to ascertain their support for the merger. If that is passed, WIT and IT Carlow will then submit an application on March 28th. That will go to an international panel who will assess the metrics. If they approve the application, it will then be up to the Government to designate the institutes as a Technological University commencing January 1st.

“From there a legal entity will be formed and a Board of Governance appointed. After nearly 50 years, this is now within our grasps within a ten-month timeframe. Let’s move forward now as a collective and ensure delivery.”

WBA 2020 Shortlist

Take a lunch break with a difference on Friday, 26th February by tuning in to the Waterford Business Awards live on the Waterford Chamber Facebook page and on from 12.30pm.

Organisers Waterford Chamber have joined forces again with partners Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber and WLR for the gala awards ceremony which for the first time ever, in light of Covid-19, will take place virtually via live stream and will be hosted by Damien Tiernan and Mary O’Neill.

Tune in to see how the shortlisted businesses have excelled over the past year and to find out who will be named Overall Waterford Business of the Year, with thanks to Waterford City & County Council, who have shown tremendous support since the awards began.

Waterford’s Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Faithlegg, will also be revealed, along with the winners of each of the ten categories.
Speaking about the awards, Danette Connolly, President, Waterford Chamber said: “Like everyone else we have had to adapt and diversify and we are excited to bring a digital awards to a large audience. We are working with the best with Frontline and WLR to deliver this online offering and I hope people will tune in on our Facebook page and to on February 26th. We all need some positivity and good news right now, so we are quite literally handing it to you on a lunch plate!

“Yes there will be people left disappointed on the day but we must remember, these are businesses who have shown strength and determination during the worst of times. Whether they win their category or not, they are being acknowledged for that and must be congratulated. The judges had a very tough job this year, but we thank them for their professionalism and dedication under the stewardship of Noel Kelly.”

All will be revealed on Friday, February 26th from 12.30pm and you can tune in to WLR’s The Hot Desk on March 3rd for the highlights. There will also be extensive social media coverage across Waterford Chamber and WLR’s social media platforms, so get involved using #WBA20.

The Waterford Business Awards shortlist includes the following businesses.

Customer Service Excellence
Alfie Hale Sports
Fresh Food Courtyard

Food & Beverage
Bodega Restaurant
Everett’s Restaurant
Glorious Sushi

Excellence in E-commerce
The Book Resort
Murphy Larkin Timber Products

Green Excellence

Marketing Excellence
Liberty Blue Estate Agents
The TEFL institute of Ireland
Visit Waterford

Micro Business of the year
Inn the Doghouse
Love Tramore
Nathan Burke Photography and design

New Business of the Year
Blue Butterfly Coffee
company & Trade
Cove Stores
Iasc Seafood Bar

SME of the Year
Powerflow Electronics
Q1 Scientific
William Scanlon Dairy Tech

Technology and Innovation
REd Hat

Tourism Activity/Attraction of the Year
Dunmore Adventure
The Haven Hotel
Waterford & Suir Valley Railway

Chambers Ireland today (9th Feb 2021) welcomes announcement by Government that COVID business grants will be expanded.

Speaking this afternoon Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “We have raised a number of concerns with Government as to the very narrow qualifying criteria for CRSS, which excluded far too many businesses- particularly those who were in the immediate supply chain and have seen much of their business wiped out to closures of hospitality and retail business.

"The proposed new COVID Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), which targets wholesalers, caterers, suppliers, and events companies, is therefore welcome.

"However, we await more information on when applications will open, how the new scheme will be distributed, and what the rates of payment will be. Too many of the supports that have been made available to date have had over-complicated qualifying structures which has led to suboptimal uptake, often because firms remain concerned about post-hoc clawbacks of such supports.

"Faced with the short run shock of the pandemic, these forms of temporary discretionary spending are essential and prudent levers for government to use. It is vital that the short-term effects of the recession do not transform into long term scarring because of a lack of government support for the domestic economy.

"Our Network will be closely reviewing the details of the CBAS scheme to gauge feedback from the targeted businesses, and to understand the issues for businesses that remain outside both the CRSS and the CBAS.

"Chambers Ireland re-iterates the need for urgent clarity on extensions to the EWSS, the VAT reduction, and debt-warehousing. This information is urgently needed if businesses are to be able to make sound financial decisions over the coming months.

"Regarding the Commercial Rates Waiver, currently extended to the end of March, we are again concerned that the qualifying criteria for the waiver is much too narrow, and again like CRSS, risks excluding far too many vulnerable businesses. This risks transferring the financial difficulties of vulnerable businesses onto the balance sheets of local government.

"We cannot afford to under-react to the challenge facing us. The coming months will be extremely challenging and local economies must be supported.”

Waterford Chamber is calling on the Government to reassess and refresh the Covid supports for business over the coming months.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber, “It is now almost a year since the pandemic hit and the time has come for Government to assess the suitability and effectiveness of the existing supports. At this time, there needs to be a roadmap or exit strategy for when the time comes to remove the supports. We need to be cognisant of the fact that a lot of businesses are only operating right now because of these supports. What happens when they stop? We cannot afford to see mass job losses and businesses closing all over Waterford.

“In addition, what about those who don’t qualify for support? Can they sustain another six months of this? Government needs to look at the parameters around the qualification for these schemes. Too few businesses are currently qualifying and their future now hangs in the balance.

“For example, the CRSS is limited to businesses that are public facing. This excludes many businesses that have been directed to shut in the latest wave of restrictions. Therefore, non-essential retailers may receive assistance because of the closures meanwhile their suppliers do not. We need new payment subsidies for all businesses who have been forced to shut.

“Budget 2021 has a Contingency Fund – surely this is exactly what it is to be used for? Nobody could foresee this pandemic lasting this long and it will continue until the roll out of the vaccine is complete.

“If Government doesn’t act now, their lack of action will result in a wave of insolvencies and job losses that our local economy simply cannot afford. Now is the time to great a robust recovery plan, support local economies and let is come out of this pandemic in a strong position. The alternative is unthinkable.”

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