Dáil debates

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed)


11:45 am

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

To respond to some of the comments made by the Deputies, particularly with regard to reform of the junior certificate examination, engagement and consultation do not mean solving everyone's problem or ensuring all stakeholders get everything they want. There was significant engagement and discussion with all stakeholders in recent years on junior certificate reform. The majority of them agreed with the reform, although some did not. At some stage, a decision must be made to move on. Consultation does not mean that every problem is resolved. One does one's best to hear everyone out and have a fair process.

The purpose of the Bill is to provide the legal framework for consortiums of institutes of technology to be granted technological university status. Many issues remain to be discussed, and there are appropriate forums for doing so, but not all of these issues should be addressed in legislation. We will tease them out in this debate, on which we will not impose a guillotine. Deputies are giving the impression that the Bill is being rammed through when that is not the case. Further debate is scheduled on three days next week, if it becomes necessary and the Dáil is still sitting. There will be time to tease out the amendments.

We do not deem the amendments in this group to be appropriate. They are not the way to do business in these matters. We have gone to great lengths to engage in consultation in recent years and the consultation process continues. It is not the case that it is game over, as it were, because this is a long process. The purpose of the legislation is to advance the process to the next stage, and in some cases there is a strong demand that we do so. Most people are in favour of the idea or concept behind the Bill. If we do not enact this legislation, people will conclude that technological universities will never be established and there will not be any consultation or progress. These proposals will benefit most, if not all, of the stakeholders concerned. While I accept that issues arise, the purpose of consultation is to address outstanding issues. Ample mechanisms are in place to do so at the appropriate time and place. Not everything must be dealt with in the legislation.


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