Thursday, 25 May 2006
Question 6: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if she has ensured that a representative from the Dublin Institute of Technology students' union will have a seat on the Grangegorman Development Agency. [19952/06]
The relocation of DIT, which is spread over 30 different sites in Dublin, to a 65-acre campus in Grangegorman is a major priority for the Government. The move will enable the institute to provide better academic and support services for its nearly 20,000 students. It will also allow for much greater academic and social interaction between students of many different disciplines, providing a dynamic environment for a broad third level education in the heart of Dublin city centre. It also has great potential to regenerate an underdeveloped area of the north inner city. I recently announced the appointment of Mr. John Fitzgerald, city manager of Dublin City Council, as chairman of the Grangegorman Development Agency and I am considering the other appointments to the agency.
The general aim is to oversee the development of the lands at Grangegorman on behalf of the Departments of Education and Science and Health and Children, the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Health Service Executive. The Grangegorman Development Agency Act 2005 provides for a total membership of 15 in the agency, including the chairperson and chief executive officer. There is no specific provision for a student or staff representative from the DIT. The legislation provides that two ordinary members of the agency will be nominated by the president of DIT and it is clearly a matter for the president to determine who to nominate having regard to the functions of the agency set out in the Act and its governance role in the development. The legislation recognises the student body of DIT specifically among the stakeholders that should be represented on the consultative group provided for in section 22 of the Act. Up to two members of the consultative group can come from the student body.
My officials recently met the president of DIT students' union and explained how the consultative group will give the stakeholders an opportunity to outline their views and participate fully in the Grangegorman development. The Act also provides for the consultative group to hold as many meetings as may be necessary to maintain an adequate communications strategy concerning the development of the Grangegorman site. The consultative group reports to the chairperson of the agency.
Does this mean that a representative of the students' union will be appointed to the agency by the Minister? Can she make such an appointment given that six appointments are outstanding? I accept the agency's role is to oversee the lands and so on and I accept two ordinary members, including my party colleague, Mr. Christy Burke, are on the consultative group. Is there a compelling reason for the exclusion of a representative of the students' union on the agency? The agency should be inclusive and, given that more than 21,000 students will attend the institute, I hope the Minister will consider the appointment of a student representative. The other agencies and stakeholders will be represented and it would be positive if the students' union were involved in the early work of the agency. While I accept the students are represented on the consultative group, perhaps the Minister will consider the appointment of a representative of the student body to the agency.
The agency comprises two persons appointed by the Minister for Health and Children, one of whom is a Health Service Executive officer; two persons nominated by the DIT president — the nominees come from the governing authority on which the students' union is represented; one person nominated by the city manager of Dublin City Council; one person who is a resident of Grangegorman; one member of Dublin City Council; and I nominate the remaining six members. They must reflect all interests, including my own and the Department's. I must wait to see who is nominated by the other bodies before I can determine my appointments.