Minister of State John Halligan (IA) believes that the Government’s ‘Project Ireland 2040’ strategy will deliver a bright and positive future for both Waterford and the South East. Addressing the gathering at the WIT Arena on March 9th, Minister Halligan said “a massive amount of work has been going on for some considerable time behind the scenes by individuals and groups who share a common purpose and common concern: to help Waterford build on its strengths so that we can grow and develop and prosper to our full potential”. Citing the €2 billion Urban Regeneration Plan, Minister Halligan said it will facilitate “transformative, regenerative projects like that planned for the North Quays Strategic Development Zone”.
Saluting the efforts of the many stakeholders that are driving the project, including City & County Council CEO Michael Walsh, the Minister said this collective vision “have the potential to transform our city, not just physically, but from an economic and tourism perspective, and I look forward to the months and years ahead when practical substance will be given to the ambitions and aspirations of today”.
Regarding the Technological University (TU) proposal which will require the merging of Waterford and Carlow Institutes of Technology, Minister Halligan identified its delivery as one of the key components of Project Ireland 2040.
“This process will benefit from (some of) the €2.2 billion allocated in the National Development Plan for higher education infrastructure…separately, the construction of a new Engineering and Computing building under the Public Private Partnership model (PPP), which is a direct response to the skills’ needs at a regional level and will significantly improve infrastructure in our city and surrounding areas. And I know the leadership of Waterford IT and Carlow IT, whom I’ve met, are committed to making a joint submission for a TU in due course. The Technological University of the South East (TUSE) will have a strong regional ambition to support development and innovation in the South East and will be a key selling point and attraction in retaining and the developing of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region. And that is of crucial importance to us, to make sure that we can attract FDI companies to the South East.”
Referring to Ireland’s global standing regarding a range of science and research-based disciplines (such as agri-science, nanotechnology and chemistry) Minister Halligan stated: “This shows just how good our education system is and the necessity of having Institutes of Technology that are excelling in Research and Development (R&D)…and our Institute here is regarded all Europe and the world, led by (Professor) Willie Donnelly, particularly in agri-science and others as being among the best in Europe. And when I travel across Europe and the world, many I meet make reference to our Institute of Technology.”
Minister Halligan, referencing the 2018 Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) call for funding, which is due to be issued this month, will see the TUSE team “avail of this opportunity to further progress its development”. While describing the roadshow’s staging in Waterford as a “a day for positives”, Minister Halligan acknowledged the slower economic recovery which the city and county has experienced in the post-recession climate.
“But you can see the significant change that is happening in Waterford over the last five or six years. You can see how we’re working with Small to Medium Enterprises; jobs are being created and Waterford is on the up, and that’s been achieved with the help of a broad consortium of people; it is not only the Government (driving this): it’s people working in tandem and wanting to put Waterford first. There are many of us here who would have different opinions and political persuasion right across this audience, but all of the politicians I know, be it Councillors, Senators, TDs and so on, we have one common purpose here: and that’s to promote the South East and promote Waterford so I feel that is why we must speak up the positives for our city, our community and for everyone who works, lives and gets themselves educated here…so today marks a new era of hope and ambition for Waterford as a whole.”