Festivities will showcase Dublin globally, says Varadkar
Tonight’s celebrations in the capital will hopefully showcase Dublin as one the world’s “go to” cities for New Year’s Eve celebrations, Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said yesterday.
Mr Varadkar said some 15,000 people were expected to be in the city to witness a torchlight procession followed by a fireworks display at about 8pm, and then a concert and the countdown to 2013.
Mr Varadkar said while the events would mark the start of “The Gathering 2013”, the Government “particularly hopes” Dublin would become “one of the cities people visit for new year’s celebrations”.
Mr Varadkar said he would personally be meeting and greeting a group of 70 foreign journalists and introducing them to the festivities.
Speaking as he joined the Coast Guard at Howth Harbour to highlight the work of the organisation’s 900 volunteers, Mr Varadkar said there was “plenty” of capacity in hotels in Ireland.
His department would be meeting with tourism interests to ensure there would be additional capacity in facilities such as car hire.
Commenting on the establishing of Shannon Airport as an independent entity as of today, Mr Varadkar welcomed additional transatlantic services into Shannon in 2013.
He was confident the airport would reach targets set for it: “The risk of doing nothing is obviously much higher than the risk of doing something.”
He said the management enjoyed the co-operation of the workforce and there was a “big Government push” behind it.
Mr Varadkar also praised Ireland West Airport Knock in Co Mayo, saying the facility was “doing very well” and required very little subvention for passengers. “I think there is room for both operators.”
Mr Varadkar was in favour of extending voting rights in Irish presidential elections to the Irish abroad. He said the move would establish the office as the president of the Irish nation as opposed to simply the president of the Irish State.
While he was at Howth Harbour, Mr Varadkar said it was important to appreciate the role of the 900 Coast Guard volunteers who staff the service. He also acknowledged the work of volunteers in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and those involved in mountain rescue.
Mr Varadkar also told reporters he hoped any impending Cabinet reshuffle would see him remain in Transport and Tourism.
“I really do want to stay,” he said.
He added that the Gathering was one of the key projects he wanted to see through, along with the start of work on the new Luas line.