Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Unfortunately, Minister of State did not answer the questions I put to her. That is very disappointing. In fact, I was able to put more information on the record of the House as to what capital spend is being made available for the south east than the Minister of State, which is quite extraordinary. The question concerned the capital funding that will be put in place to deliver a university of international standing in the south east. The Minister of State speaks of Project Ireland 2040, of which I am aware, and indicates that €2.2 billion in capital expenditure will be invested in the higher education sector in the next decade, of which I am also aware, and that as part of that, all universities and institutes of technology and potential TUs will benefit. However, I was asking specifically about the south east and the capital programmes that will be put in place. The Minister of State is asking people to take a leap of faith. People need to know how the Government is going to increase the footprint of the campuses in Waterford and Carlow to ensure that the TU has the capacity to retain more students and to attract more people to the south east. How was it that I was able to get information from the Secretary General of the Department when I followed it up with him after I received a poor response to my first question about what funding was being made available? According to an additional parliamentary question response, there is a PPP connected with the engineering, computing and general teaching building that is at an advanced design phase. The question is when the money for that will be made available and when construction will start because what we have in Waterford at the moment is a big crater in the ground. This project was a victim of the Celtic tiger. What capital funding will be invested and what additional capacity will be put in place in the south east?
It is very interesting that the Minister of State said the application from Munster Technological University has now arrived ahead of the one from the south east. What is the reason for that? How is the south east so far behind given that Dublin is so well advanced and the application for Munster has now been received? We are still behind in the south east with high levels of unemployment and lower levels of educational attainment. We need this for the south east. Why is it that, again, the process relating to the south east is well behind the rest?