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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 4 May 1995

Vol. 452 No. 4

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Science and Technology Park.

Trevor Sargent


11 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the progress, if any, which has been made in selecting a site for a science and technology park in County Dublin; and the third-level institutions he proposes to link to such a park. [6770/95]

As the Deputy may be aware, I announced last Friday, 28 April that, following consideration of proposals from me by the Cabinet, discussions had commenced between an expert group chaired by Forfás — the policy and advisory board for industrial development — and Citywest concerning the establishment of a science and technology park at the Citywest Business Campus on the Naas Road.

The Government believes that the considerable investment that has already taken place in the Citywest campus and the high quality design concept involved provides an ideal opportunity to develop a science and technology park in a timely and cost-effective manner at that location.

Obviously, a key aim of such a park is to promote greater synergy between providers and users of knowledge so that third level resources are harnessed and applied to greatest national economic benefit.

To that extent, the co-operation of the three Dublin universities and the Dublin Institute of Technology has been invaluable in getting the idea off the ground. I look forward to their ongoing participation and that of the Regional Technical College at Tallaght. I greatly appreciate their public statement of support for the project.

It is the hope that the mission statement of the working group on the science and technology park will be realised. It was to the effect that the Dublin science and technology park will build on the research, technical and business development and knowledgebased skills of all the Dublin colleges and of the other knowledge based businesses created in Dublin in order to attract inward investment in knowledgebased industry, high technology manufacturing, R & D and skill-based international services; that it will bring together entrepreneurial driven indigenous companies to provide mutual support in a growth phase on the park; that it will create new and further develop existing networks which help to sustain new businesses in developing areas; that it will provide services from college and college-based research teams to clients of the park and, via networks, to international markets and that it will provide any ancillary activities related to the foregoing.

I congratulate the Minister of State on bringing home the bacon, so to speak, in so far as his Dublin South West constituency is concerned. I further congratulate him on recognising that the solution to long term unemployment is jobs and not handouts which seems to be the philosophy of some members of his party, particularly his leader. How can the Minister justify setting aside the recommendations of the independent consultants who said some time ago that the science park should be located in his leader's constituency of Dublin North West? Abbotstown was the preferred choice of that group.

The Deputy should be serious for a change.

The Minister tossed this idea between other groups in the meantime and if one asks enough expert groups sooner or later one of them will give one a free hand. How did the Minister manage to catch his leader asleep? Is his chair at the Cabinet table padded and more comfortable?


As a public representative for Dublin North West, I am horrified that the science park will not be located at Abbotstown, the preferred choice. The people of the area thought the decision on the location was in the bag given that one of their public representatives is a Minister. Yet the Minister of State has managed to swipe this park from under the nose of his party leader.

That is adequate, Deputy.

How does he justify this type of petty constituency politics? It is a bloody disgrace.

It is larceny.

Our time for questions is well exhausted and I want to facilitate the two Deputies who have offered.

I take that as a speech in favour of the concept of a science and technology park.

Yes, but it is in the wrong location.

I acknowledge the compliements of the Deputy on my efforts to bring home the bacon. If I told him it was the high quality of the site concerned he would not believe me, so therefore I will not tell him that.

Is the Deputy against the site owned by the State? Has he changed his colours?

The Minister without interruption, please.

The official group which was required to make a recommendation on this issue——

This is the fifth one.

——did not make any specific recommendation about Abbotstown or anywhere else.

The original one did. If one asks enough questions one will get the right answers.

This concept has been there for more than a decade. Deputy Ahern's former leader, Mr. Haughey, promoted this idea and while unfortunately it foundered at the time, this Government was determined this would not happen. I have no doubt about the suitability and attractiveness of the site concerned and I sincerly hope it will have the support of the Deputies on the opposite side of the House.

I compliment the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, on what he has done for our constituency. While it is a very prestigious development I note the Minister of State has chosen to locate it on a private sector developed site. Why was an announcement which weakened his position made before the negotiations were completed? Have the negotiations been completed in terms of the costs etc?

The decision to locate the science park on a private sector site derives from conclusions within my Department that if we were to locate such a developmant on a green field site we would be talking of an investment of the order of £20 million. Some people who are concerned about the concept are of the opinion that it would be more than £20 million. In any event it was my view that that kind of investment was unlikely to be forthcoming and that the type of joint venture which is under way now is the ideal arrangement in terms of driving the project to ensure that it is successful both in protecting the character and concept of a genuine science and technology park on the one hand and attracting high tech suitable investments on the other. I assure Deputy Harney that the announcment did not impact on the negotiations which are concentrating on protecting the character and concept of the type of projects which will be permitted to locate there, the dimensions etc, of the university research centre will be located on the campus and that kind of detail.

The short answer is that it is an ideal solution as it is in the Minister of State's constituency. Nevertheless I wish him well with it.

I am prepared to agree with the Deputy. It is a further reason why it is suitable.

That concludes questions for today.