Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to have this opportunity in the Seanad to begin the process of debating the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004. On Committee and Report Stages in the Dáil, the Bill received wide cross-party support. I was gratified to have such support from Members of the Lower House, many of whom, like myself, have declared links to the Dublin Institute of Technology — some as former students, staff or members of former governing bodies.

The general aim of the Bill is to facilitate the Grangegorman site as a modern campus for the DIT and to provide the Health Service Executive with upgraded facilities. The Bill establishes the Grangegorman Development Agency to project manage the development in an integrated and sustainable manner and is, therefore, a critical part of the overall way forward in meeting the needs of all the interested parties.

Before going into the detail of the Bill I would like to outline for Members some of the history of this development that I believe will help put in context what we wish to achieve by passing this legislation. In December 1999, the Government decided that the Department of Education and Science would purchase 65 acres of the 73-acre Grangegorman site from the Eastern Regional Health Authority, and that the site would house the new Dublin Institute of Technology community campus.

In 2001, the Taoiseach set up an interdepartmental working group, with a view to examining the project and reporting back to the Cabinet with its recommendations. The group represented the DIT, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Northern Area Health Board that were in existence at the time, the Departments of Education and Science, Health and Children, Public Enterprise, Finance, Environment and Local Government, and Dublin City Council. It was chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach.

In July 2001, the group appointed consultants to carry out an extensive investigation into the development potential of the site as a campus for DIT together with health facilities. The consultancy report was delivered in November 2001 and the strategic conclusions and recommendations contained in the report included the following: the Grangegorman site is a unique and valuable public asset and should be developed in an integrated and sustainable manner; an integrated site plan should be prepared with a view to securing outline planning permission; the health care and educational requirements could be developed on a phased basis; the affordability of the project should be determined at the outset and, therefore, the Government should determine the broad budgetary parameters for a phase one development; and a Grangegorman development company should be set up to project manage the development and determine the type of procurement to be employed.

In April 2002, on the basis of the report prepared by the interdepartmental working group, the Government decided that a statutory Grangegorman development agency would be established to manage the development of the site as an agent for the Dublin Institute of Technology, the now Health Service Executive and the Departments involved.

The Bill, therefore, provides for the establishment of the Grangegorman development agency to undertake the development of the Grangegorman site as a location for education, health and related activities. As Senators will be aware, the Bill recently completed all Stages in the Dáil.

In examining the possible uses of this strategic site, the Government took account not only of the needs of the DIT, but also the need to regenerate this underdeveloped area of Dublin city. The Government is conscious that the integration of the proposed development with the existing community would produce benefits beyond the actual Grangegorman site. In reflecting the importance of this major development, the Bill provides for clear consultation with a wide range of stakeholder groups including surrounding communities. It must also be recognised that this will be a complex property development project that involves a number of Departments and agencies.

Due to the complexities involved, the Government is determined that the site will be developed in a strategic manner in order to maximise its potential, and to protect the interests of the residents in the area. For this reason the Bill provides for direct community and locally elected representation on the membership of the agency with the former being drawn from a clearly defined local neighbourhood.

The aim of the Grangegorman campus is to create an attractive learning environment that encourages the development of an interdisciplinary and modular pedagogy, collaborative research, alliances with enterprise and creative practice. In addition, it will be sufficiently flexible to meet the changing needs of society and education in the 21st century, and will recognise the DIT's role as a cultural, educational and technological institution interfacing with society, while responding to national economic and social imperatives. The campus will contribute to a vibrant community and will make an important contribution to the regeneration of the area.

In creating this campus, all institute activities will be brought together onto a single campus and, in the process, will create a more effective and efficient organisation. Such measures are critical to the institute and are supported by the recent OECD report on the future of higher education in Ireland.

The poor and inconsistent quality of much of the institute's building stock places significant constraints on its mission of service to society and the economy. The DIT is the largest provider of education in the higher education sector in Ireland, operating on just 11 acres. At present, the DIT is spread over 39 buildings on 30 sites throughout Dublin. Most Senators will be familiar with the institute's premises in Bolton Street, Kevin Street and Aungier Street. However, a DIT presence can also be found in many other parts of the city, such as Capel Street, Great Denmark Street and New Bride Street. The DIT premises also stretch out to Rathmines and Slaney Road in Glasnevin, and include many other smaller, rented properties in use. The cost of rental alone is in excess of €4.15 million per annum.

The institute is just completing the process of reorganising all its academic activities on a modular basis. However, it will be difficult to exploit fully the opportunities offered by a modular system until such time as all students are on the one campus.

There are clearly serious operational inefficiencies in seeking to manage and operate a major institution such as the DIT over such a wide variety of locations. These not only militate severely against operational effectiveness, but also have adverse cost implications in a wide variety of areas, such as security, heating, lighting, administration, registration, records, support services, dining arrangements, library services and intercommunications.

It is estimated that the potential costs associated with an upgrading, replacement and refurbishment of existing buildings are approximately €200 million, without the many facilities and amenities which are common throughout the higher education sector generally. For example, the cost to refurbish and bring up to modern standards the institute's Bolton Street and Kevin Street facilities is estimated at over €100 million. The Kevin Street premises, which currently comprise the faculty of science and electrical-electronic engineering, are seriously deficient in accommodation and layout for modern needs. The faculty of the built environment and a major part of the faculty of engineering are located in Bolton Street. Other premises in the DIT's property portfolio equally need capital funds spent on them.

The relocation of the DIT to Grangegorman will enable the institute to achieve its strategic objectives. In particular, the consolidation of the institute on a single campus will provide it with a new dynamic in its efforts to serve many sectors of the economy and society.

A range of reports has emphasised the strategic nature of science and technology to the Irish economy. They include the following: the report of the Forfás task force on the physical sciences in 2002; the science technology and innovation advisory council's report of 1995; the report of the review committee on post-secondary education and training places in 1999; and the technology foresight Ireland report prepared by the Irish Council for Science and Technology Innovation. The science and technology sector is a mainstay of Government policy and is critical to the economic sustainability of the country.

The DIT's faculties of science, engineering and the built environment will play an enhanced role in developing graduates in mathematics, computer sciences, physics, chemistry, engineering, technology, architecture and biology. These graduates will, in turn, underpin the science and technology sectors within the economy.

Slightly less than half the degree programmes offered through the institute are, to a significant extent, science and technology based and in many cases the DIT is the sole provider in the State. These programmes are underpinned by basic research strengths. The Grangegorman campus will allow DIT to further develop the above strategic areas as well as provide for a wide range of other programmes in the broad areas of science, engineering and technology, closely integrated with research activity.

The construction industry is a major employer and is vital to sustaining growth in our production and manufacturing capacity as well as delivering our transport and housing infrastructure. The faculty of the built environment, together with the faculty of engineering, develops a range of graduates across construction skills, structural, mechanical, manufacturing and building services engineering. Effective planning in an urban and rural context is central to the future development of the State. Maintaining and enhancing the environment for the benefit of all is a key requirement of our society. The faculty of the built environment has an established leadership role in these areas, providing the only undergraduate programme in planning in Ireland. It has also introduced post-graduate opportunities, and it is one of only two providers in the country in the areas of architecture and property economics.

Energy consumption and sustainable development are major issues affecting our society, and cut across all aspects of planning and construction. It is intended that the new campus will be a model of best practice in terms of sustainable design and construction, energy usage, and water and waste management.

The enterprise strategy group identified internationally traded services as an important area for growth, underpinned by improved marketing skills. Entrepreneurship, innovation and enhanced business process are all hallmarks of the DIT faculty of business. The faculty has supported the financial services sector and marketing functions of the State, semi-State and private sector over many years. One unique example is its degree in retail services management, the only such programme in Ireland. Its graduate business school, in conjunction with other faculties in DIT, offers unique multidisciplinary MBA programmes with specialisations in such areas as facilities and construction project management along with strategic management and entrepreneurship. In addition, DIT's project development centre has an established record in advancing innovation, product development and project management skills within the economy. The Grangegorman campus will allow on-site opportunities to develop business opportunities and processes and again facilitate cross-faculty interaction.

Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary knowledge and research are increasingly playing a significant role in the economic prosperity. Activities that span the digital media, creative technologies, music technology, film, drama, broadcasting, design and interactive media have been identified as being growth areas for employment and wealth creation within the economy, as detailed in the Forfás report, A Strategy for the Digital Content Industry in Ireland. As technology matures, the focus is shifting to generating content that can exploit new media opportunities. The Grangegorman campus will allow DIT to draw together disparate elements of technology and media on a single location to create an integrated approach and in the process develop innovative approaches to programme delivery. This development will facilitate significant links with outreach centres and delivery into industry.

The tourism sector is the second largest employer in Ireland, accounting for approximately 150,000 employees, with a major multiplier effect through the economy. In addition to the economic contribution of tourism there is a significant sociological impact. Evidence points to the major benefit of tourism revenues to rural populations in halting the shift towards urbanisation. DIT is Ireland's major provider of tourism education and research. The faculty offers Ireland's only degree programmes in tourism marketing and culinary arts. It is Ireland's only centre for tourism education and research designated by the World Tourism Organisation. The faculty offers a range of programmes not otherwise available in the Dublin region. In addition, the faculty has over many years developed a significant research base within its tourism research centre. The Grangegorman campus will provide an opportunity for the faculty to address the very significant deficiencies it has with respect to its physical environment and infrastructure.

The food processing sector has been identified as being central to supporting agriculture. The national development plan emphasises the need to grow sectors of competitive advantage. Ireland has produced a number of world class manufacturers in the dairy and meat sectors. The recently published future skills needs report, The Demand and Supply of Skills in the Food Processing Sector, outlines the importance of the sector and numerous actions necessary to develop human capital in the industry, from shop floor operators through to senior management and research and product development. The faculty of tourism and food provides a range of tailored programmes to this sector and in addition offers a range of specialist research facilities and resources through the food product development centre.

Government policy has clearly identified research underpinning the move to a knowledge based economy as one of the key strategies for future economic growth and development. This is supported at EU level by the agreement to drive research spending up from just over 2% to 3% of GDP. Programmes such as the programme for research in third level institutions, PRTLI, Science Foundation Ireland and other initiatives such as those outlined in the Forfás annual report 2002 Review and 2003 Outlook underline the Government's commitment to achieving these goals. The ultimate requirement is for a ready supply and up skilling of graduate and postgraduate knowledge workers.

The move to Grangegorman will provide the basic research infrastructure, allowing the institute to optimise the resources available and to maximise their exploitation. It will bring together and cluster research activity within the institute in a highly visible and coherent manner. The rise in prominence of research and its associated infrastructure as a central activity of a third level institution is one of the largest changes to have occurred in third level education. The opportunity to design a new campus offers a unique opportunity for research facilities to be designed as an integral part of the core campus, rather than tacked onto the periphery as is the case with other older institutions. The strategic brief for the new campus strongly articulates that research activities should be a clear and visible up-front activity in order to signal its centrality to the mission of the institute, to strengthen the links between research and the core undergraduate courses, and to encourage undergraduate students to continue to postgraduate research.

Higher education in the 21st century demands close co-operation with industry to maximise technology transfers. The Grangegorman development will facilitate significant on-campus partnership with industry. Key industry partners who currently interact with faculties across the institute will locate elements of their operations on-campus. Such strategic partnerships have been established with selected companies and will provide research, part-time and full-time employment and career path opportunities for the students and staff of the institute. Such arrangements have proved successful in facilitating research, innovation and development. In addition, such partnerships enhance opportunities for employees to undertake continued education and training. The institute has experience of this type of interaction and partnership through its development in the East Wall innovation park. At present, the institute has utilised all its available space within this park. This space is rented, and at some distance from the faculties which support it. Grangegorman will bring Industry on-campus in close proximity to student and staff members and will enable the institute to respond to increasing demands for research space and incubation space. It is estimated by DIT that the Grangegorman campus will create up to 4,500 employment opportunities.

A focal point of the Grangegorman campus will be the centre for visual and performing arts. This is an integrated performance, exhibition, teaching and research facility. The DIT conservatory of music and drama has played an active part in the cultural life of the State over many decades, and has not only trained many of our eminent musicians but continues to train new generations of music teachers who can bring music education to an ever greater number of young students. The institute has an established record in education and research in the performing arts. Grangegorman will facilitate a clustering of performance spaces in a single location to the benefit of students, staff members and the wider community.

Dublin City Council enthusiastically supports the Grangegorman development as a catalyst for development and rejuvenation of a large tract of the north inner city landscape. In its strategy document Dublin, a City of Possibilities, Dublin City Council has recognised the important contribution of third level institutions to the development of the city under the banner of "a learning city". The Dublin city development plan 2005-11 designates Grangegorman as a framework development area and identifies the Grangegorman development as a strategic objective of the city. With an anticipated campus population in excess of 20,000, representing students, staff and employees of industry partners, the development will have a population as significant as that of some Irish towns.

The impact on the physical environment of rebuilding and developing a large site area that has had very limited public access and little investment in recent years and opening it to the city as an educational, research, cultural, and amenity area, has been recognised by all parties concerned. Development of a campus at Grangegorman will contribute to greater social cohesion. The north inner city currently experiences Ireland's lowest rate of participation in higher education. At present the institute has formal links with 31 inner city schools and has a range of initiatives targeting enhanced participation in education. The new campus will further co-ordinate the contribution the institute can make in this area.

More broadly, the institute has just initiated a substantial project known as the Grangegorman community network project, funded through the Information Society Commission and the Department of Finance and sponsored by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. This project aims to design, build and evaluate a sustainable e-community, that makes use of ubiquitous computing applications and services, bringing educational opportunities into homes in the immediate neighbourhood.

Gathering all of DIT at this north-west inner city location will make a significant contribution to the redevelopment of this part of the city. This role will extend to education and training; underpinning economic activity within the surrounding area; enhancing access opportunities; extending cultural facilities; provision of recreational and sporting facilities; rebuilding and developing large areas of dereliction; creating direct and indirect employment opportunities; complementing existing educational and cultural facilities within the area; and providing access to campus facilities, students and staff resources.

The Bill makes provision for an agency to provide a cohesive planning and implementation framework for the Grangegorman site. In view of the nature, importance and the size of the project, the functions of the agency are detailed and appropriate to its task. Section 9 provides that the primary function of the agency will be to promote the Grangegorman site as a location for education, health and other facilities and to co-ordinate the development or redevelopment of the site. This section also enables the agency to enter arrangements to exploit research, development or consultancy work undertaken by or on its behalf.

Given the DIT's currently-in-use large property portfolio, the development of the Grangegorman site as a new campus is underpinned by the sale or development of these existing DIT premises to finance future stages of development. Therefore, section 9 also makes provision for the vesting of these premises in the agency, together with other land and property vacated by the HSE. The DIT-owned properties will be signed over to the agency as they become available. It will be a matter for the agency to dispose of the property that gives the maximum return and the income generated will be used, together with other resources, to fund the development. In view of this, one of the first tasks that the agency will have to perform will be to undertake an examination of the titles of all of the properties within the Grangegorman site, in addition to the properties currently in the ownership of the DIT. It will then be a matter of deciding the appropriate strategy for procuring each individual element of the site.

The agency will be the sole authority for developing the site. To achieve this it will be required to engage in the planning process and decide on the appropriate procurement strategy. In view of the complexity and sensitivity of the development, the legislation requires the agency to arrange an appropriate communication strategy and consult with stakeholders and relevant interested third parties such as Dublin City Council, CIE and Dublin Bus.

The area surrounding the site is primarily residential. Clearly, therefore, the development of the site must be approached with sensitivity. For this reason, the Bill incorporates provision for extensive consultation with all interested parties. These include local residents and health care staff and patients located in or near the site, the academic and student bodies of DIT, the HSE, and the Ministers for Education and Science and Health and Children. The Bill provides for the vesting of those lands and premises to be occupied by the DIT, the health authority or other educational body into the ownership of the respective authority, institute or other body on the completion of the construction phase.

Section 10 allows for additional functions to be conferred on the agency by order of the Minister for Education and Science with the consent of the Minister for Finance. Under section 11, the Minister for Education and Science may at certain times issue general directives to the agency on policy regarding any of the functions assigned to the agency under the Act. In addition, the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may give a general directive specifying the financial objectives of the agency and the manner in which it shall conduct its financial affairs. However, I emphasise that this section shall not impose on the agency a duty or liability which may be the subject of legal proceedings.

While the principal purpose of the Bill is to provide a campus for DIT and health care facilities for the HSE on the site, it is also recognised that the Grangegorman site is unique and of strategic importance in the context of Dublin as a whole. In view of this, provision is made for Dublin City Council to be involved with the planning and development of the site from the outset.

Section 12 provides that the agency will be responsible for drawing up a strategic development plan for the site, with a particular focus on the provision of adequate public transport access. The plan — which will be a necessary condition of seeking and obtaining planning permission and must have regard to the Dublin City development plan — should incorporate community use and access and be informed by a high quality urban design perspective by developing the site in the context of land usage in the vicinity and in a way that is sympathetic to its urban setting.

The plan shall consist of a written statement and will indicate the objectives for the development, including the needs of the Ministers for Education and Science and Health and Children, the DIT, the HSE and the Grangegorman neighbourhood. It must also include the provision of facilities to exploit any research, consultancy or development work undertaken by the agency in conjunction with the DIT or the HSE. In addition, it must take account of the needs of the local community by facilitating access to and use of facilities by residents in the Grangegorman neighbourhood.

Given the nature of the proposed development and the likely impact on the locality, in drawing up the plan the agency will also consult and seek the views of a number of statutory bodies such as the Dublin Transportation Office, CIE, Enterprise Ireland and other interested parties. An opportunity will be given to members of the public to view and comment on the draft plan, which will also be available on a website, before it is adopted. The agency will be required to consider those submissions and amend the plan where appropriate.

Section 13 gives the Minister the power to order the transfer of land from a statutory body to the agency. However, this can only be done following consultation with the body concerned and with the Minister for Finance's agreement. The Minister must be satisfied that the land in question is not necessary for the performance of the functions of the statutory body concerned.

Section 14 makes provision for the making of grants to cover capital and current expenditure to the agency by the Minister for Education and Science or any other Minister, subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance. Section 15 is an enabling provision to provide the agency with the power to raise loans to a limit of €100 million, subject to the approval of the Ministers for Education and Science and Finance. Section 16 is a standard provision which allows the Minister for Finance to provide guarantees for these loans. At the end of each financial year the Minister for Finance will be required to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas a statement giving the details of each guarantee given.

Section 17 provides for the membership of the agency. From my first involvement with this legislation, I was acutely aware of the need to ensure that the board of the agency had adequate, balanced representation and appropriate input from all interested parties, including the local residents. In deciding on the make up of the agency, the Government was cognisant of the need to provide a direct input from the parties most interested in the development of Grangegorman and the need to drive the development forward. The initial proposal of 11 members was amended during Dáil the debate to strengthen community representation.

The Bill now provides for the appointment of 15 members to the agency, including the chairman. Membership will include two members nominated by the Minister for Health and Children, including one from the Health Services Executive; two members nominated by the Dublin Institute of Technology; one local resident, to be elected as set out in Schedule 4 of the Bill; one member drawn from Dublin City Council; one member nominated by the Dublin City Manager; and the remainder to be nominated by the Minister for Education and Science.

Members will agree that it is important to ensure that the interests of the residents are properly represented and the development will benefit from having a resident of the neighbourhood on the agency. I am conscious that the selection process should be as transparent as possible and the Fourth Schedule to the Bill outlines the procedure to be applied in selecting the local resident to the board of the agency. The term of office of the chairman and each ordinary member shall be three years.

Section 22 requires the agency to form a consultative group. The group will consist of stakeholders in the project and will include representatives selected by local residents in the Grangegorman neighbourhood, health care service providers and patients, Dublin City Council, Dublin Institute of Technology staff and students, the HSE, certain other Ministers and such statutory bodies as the Minister deems relevant. The agency is required to develop a communications strategy and is required to hold as many meetings as required to maintain the communications strategy.

Sections 23 to 40, inclusive, deal with the chief executive officer and staff of the agency and cover such matters as superannuation, code of conduct, declaration of interests and reports by the agency to the Minister. Section 41 deals with the dissolution of the agency. Sections 42 and 43 amend the definition of agency in the Planning and Development Act 2000 to include the Grangegorman Development Agency and the Schedule to the National Development Finance Agency Act 2002 to include the Grangegorman Development Agency.

Approximately 10% of the Grangegorman site is intended for development of health care facilities for the Health Services Executive. Currently, it is anticipated that the health development on the site will include residential and day care for intellectually impaired, residential and day care for young physically impaired and residential and day care for the elderly and dementia sufferers. It is also envisaged that the creation of a joint education and health campus will provide opportunities to create synergies in developing an appropriate model of care and development in specialist areas such as optometry, clinical-hospital measurement, dietetics and nutrition, social care, early childhood studies, and health services management.

It is anticipated that on-site co-operation between those who provide education and those who provide health care will lead to the development of tailored courses in health-related disciplines. The development of the Grangegorman site will facilitate a move from institutional to more appropriate community settings. The focus of health care provision will also shift from regional to local level. That will involve a move from acute care to rehabilitation.

Turning to the important question of funding, it has been estimated that the overall cost of the development will be approximately €900 million. That preliminary estimate takes into consideration the cost of all the educational facilities which will be required, including additional ancillary facilities such as student accommodation, an industry and science park, retail outlets and other complementary activities. Some income will be generated on-site through educational and health activities. The figure of €900 million is a preliminary estimate. The actual cost will be arrived at when critical information, such as start dates, phasing and the type of procurement to be used, is available to the agency.

It was originally envisaged that the DIT campus at Grangegorman would be developed on a phased basis. It was anticipated that the initial phase of the development would be financed with Exchequer funds, through the Department of Education and Science. The agency will be required to prepare full costings as part of the development's master plan. It will have to decide on the best form of procurement in consultation with the National Development Finance Agency. As Senators are aware, State authorities have to seek the finance agency's advice before they undertake major public investment projects. The finance agency will assist during the project assessment, development and procurement process by evaluating financial risks and the cost of infrastructure projects and assessing the optimal mix of financing to achieve value for money. The Department and the DIT have briefed the finance agency on the proposed development.

The decision to locate all the colleges of the DIT at Grangegorman will make a significant contribution to the redevelopment of the north inner city. The role of the DIT will involve providing education and training, underpinning economic activity in the surrounding area, enhancing access opportunities, extending cultural facilities, providing recreational and sporting facilities, rebuilding and developing large areas of dereliction and creating direct and indirect employment opportunities. The DIT is working in close co-operation with the Department of Education and Science, Dublin City Council, representative groups, development associations and agencies, Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Health Service Executive.

I hope Senators agree with me about the Bill's positive benefits. I look forward to listening to their contributions and to debating the various provisions of the legislation with them. I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the Minister, Deputy Hanafin, to the House and wish her well. Although she has been in the House for many debates since she was appointed Minister for Education and Science, this is the first time she has brought legislation to the House. It is important for me to indicate at the outset that Fine Gael will co-operate fully with the Minister's attempts to steer this Bill through the Seanad. I hope nobody will obstruct the quick enactment of the legislation, which is needed to facilitate the speedy development of the DIT's new facilities at Grangegorman.

Everyone in Dublin and throughout the country recognises the important role played by the DIT in various locations in the capital city. It has offered educational services at all levels to many people from all parts of the country. Many generations of students have been familiar with locations like Bolton Street and Kevin Street. It is great that the Government took the wonderful opportunity that was presented to it to purchase the large and centrally located site at Grangegorman. I am sure it is unique for such an enormous site to become available in the centre of a capital city.

All Senators will be keen to pay tribute to the management and staff of the colleges which comprise the DIT. Over the years, such colleges have provided a high quality of education to students even though they may have had to operate in unsuitable conditions. It would be remiss of Members to fail to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the institute's staff. The Minister mentioned that the DIT offers 85 full-time educational programmes and approximately 200 part-time programmes at 40 locations throughout Dublin city. Such figures underline the enormity of the task faced by the management of the DIT over the years. I hope the DIT, which is the biggest educational institution in the country, will continue to grow after it moves to its new campus.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Education and Science, I visited the Grangegorman site last summer. On that occasion, all members of the committee were impressed by the partnership and co-operation between the staff and management of the DIT. We met many people who emphasised the importance of making progress with this legislation. It is great that we are discussing the Bill on Second Stage tonight.

The Minister has indicated that she would like the redevelopment of the Grangegorman site to be handled in a spirit of co-operation, consultation and partnership with the development agency, which will be responsible for developing important education, sporting and recreational facilities. It is welcome that the facilities are being provided in a residential area of the inner city, as the Minister indicated. That it will be possible for local people to use the facilities will be of major benefit to the communities in the Grangegorman area who embraced the redevelopment proposals from the outset. The Minister has said that the relevant authorities will engage in co-operation and consultation with local communities during the construction and development of the college. Those living in the local areas have welcomed the promise that their opinions will be taken on board, rather than disregarded.

I would like to speak about the unique role of the DIT. It has been the State's primary provider of apprenticeships over many years. While I appreciate that many of the institute's students are now learning about science and technology, we should acknowledge that those who completed apprenticeships in the 1960s and 1970s laid the foundation for this country's boom in manufacturing industry. Such models of learning paved the way for the new technologies of the current era. The important people, many of whom are long since gone, who developed the initial programmes of study at the DIT should be remembered with admiration and given credit for the innovative work they did during that period. At the other end of the spectrum, many people have emerged from the DIT with doctorates and master's degrees in all kinds of subject areas.

The Minister mentioned that the DIT offers some 85 full-time educational programmes across the full range of the activity in which the people of this State are engaged. I refer to the food, technology and manufacturing sectors, for example. The Minister indicated her willingness to take on board and co-operate with the industry so that the campus will be a centre of research and development for industries which will continue to support the DIT, as they have in the past. We must recognise how difficult it would have been for industries to liaise with the scattered nature of many of these colleges and buildings, which would have been an unfavourable location for research and development and any innovative research that industry would wish to take place.

I welcome the fact that on Committee Stage in the Dáil the Minister changed the membership of the agency to include members of staff of the DIT, or representatives of the DIT, other than just the appointment of an appointee of the president of the college, as was intended initially. It was remiss to have excluded such representatives in the first instance. It is important that the agency should include as many representative groups as possible. The fact that the Minister included local community representatives is a forward step. This will bring about greater commitment to the advancement and success of the college as already expressed by the local community.

It appears to be a new phenomenon that from the beginning, the agency will have responsibility for the development of the site. Under the guidance and direction of the Minister for Education and Science, it will continue to have responsibility for policy developments, financing, resourcing, staffing and so on. How will this gel with the day-to-day management of the college? I would appreciate her views on this aspect.

The roots of the DIT go back to 1887. The Minister said that the history of this project goes back to 1999. The fact that the first focus of attention for the DIT when the constituent colleges came together was the old Collins Barracks was a blessing in disguise. Luckily for the DIT, that was allocated to the National Museum for its development. I do not think it would have been as suitable a site as Grangegorman. An agency such as this to run what we hope will be the biggest educational institution in the country could be the first step in re-organising other areas of third level education which would be given equal treatment. Members will be aware that there is a perception at present that colleges will have to compete for funding. I am not sure this would be a good idea given that all the constituent parts of the DIT must come together under one umbrella agency. This is a forward looking step, which might be contemplated in regard to future funding for other third level institutions as a group or as singular institutions.

Another aspect relates to funding. The agency has responsibility for acquiring and disposing of property. I presume the Minister is referring to existing property the DIT is currently working from, whether leased or rented. The estimated part funding for this is quoted as being in the region of €250 million. Despite departmental and Government provision, there will be a shortfall of approximately €200 million if the overall costing is in the region of €900 million. It is important to know whether this project will be carried out under a PPP scheme, because people might draw parallels between the difficulties that arose in the recent past in regard to the Cork School of Music. Everything was in place in that regard, but suddenly the plug was pulled and everything went into disarray and delay. The most important aspects in regard to this legislation is that everything should progress full steam ahead and nothing should interfere with the progress of the legislation and the commitment given by the Government to progress this important institution.

I welcome the legislation. We will wholeheartedly co-operate with its speedy passage through this House. We look forward to the completion of the project, as do many students who are not yet thinking of third level education. Many people will benefit from education in the new DIT, Grangegorman.

Tá áthas orm seans á thabhairt dom labhairt leis an Grangegorman Development Agency Bill. I welcome the Minister to the House and congratulate her for being so apt in getting this Bill so quickly through the Houses. I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak on the Bill. The Taoiseach has played a role in this since 2001. Given the vastness and uniqueness of the site, it is important the development agency is set up to monitor the whole project.

Having worked with the City of Dublin VEC as a career guidance teacher for much of my adult working life, part of my job was linking in with third level institutions. As we all know, the City of Dublin VEC was the pioneer for these third level colleges. Having worked in the north inner city, I am aware that many of these programmes were initiated in the second level vocational schools within the city. It goes back a long time but in the 1940s the City of Dublin VEC was under the stewardship of Martin Gleeson. He was one of the key people in the history of the development of the committee. He recognised the importance of bringing students along from second to third level and he spearheaded many of the links between the vocational schools run by the VEC and the third level colleges. I salute that man, who was a visionary.

I was a career guidance counsellor in the mid-1980s, a time of significant unemployment in the north inner city. We pioneered many post-leaving certificate courses, which provided for entry into third level institutions. I had the opportunity to witness how the courses evolved into third level certificate and diploma courses. The model developed naturally following its establishment by the City of Dublin VEC.

The Grangegorman campus will comprise a 73-acre site in the north inner city. I visited primary schools in the area in the mid-1980s. It was bleak, derelict and absolutely dull with no activity taking place. The campus presents a major opportunity to reinvigorate the community and regenerate activity in the area. The new DIT campus will generate significant momentum in the area, given the access that will be provided to local people to education, training and recreational facilities.

Participation by students from the north inner city in third level education has been historically low but the campus will again present a great opportunity to stimulate interest in this regard. Links have been established between vocational schools through post-leaving certificate and other practical courses, which provide a natural path to third level institutions. This campus will enhance higher education on the north side of the River Liffey.

The DIT colleges are spread throughout Dublin city and they offer a large number of courses. The college at Cathal Brugha Street offers various certificates and diplomas relating to the catering and tourism industries while Bolton Street offers apprenticeships, certificates and diplomas relating to the built environment. Kevin Street concentrates on science programmes, which took off in the mid-1980s. However, the colleges are fragmented and very often programmes are duplicated. Students find it difficult to move between colleges as they graduate from certificates to diplomas and so on and the new campus presents a golden opportunity to bring everything under the one roof.

Undergraduates will be enabled to take a greater interest in academic research rather than pursuing research jobs. The intake of students over the past ten years has increased significantly and more efficiency was needed in registration, administration and the duplication of courses and facilities. For example, lighting and heating resulted in large bills. This emphasises the importance of bringing the colleges under one roof.

When the Dublin Institute of Technology was formed in the early 1990s, it placed a strong emphasis on science programmes such as engineering and the built environment. This complemented the Government's strategy, which reflected the importance of economic sustainability. It was important that many science graduates were turned out to meet that challenge and I compliment the DIT colleges in this regard.

Locating all the colleges on the one campus will encourage team work on various complementary research programmes. It is important that resources in this area be maximised. The Grangegorman development agency will be located on a 73-acre site, of which ten acres will be set aside for the Department of Health and Children. It is important that the agency should be overseen and monitored. The Minister referred to the initial cost of getting the agency off the ground and I welcome the role of the National Development Finance Agency in this regard. The current DIT buildings will be disposed of in due course and that will also help to defray the cost of the project.

It is great that St. Brendan's Hospital in Grangegorman will have a local focus and that it will move away from the institutional model of the past. Opportunities will be presented to the health and education sectors to work together and complement each other in providing courses.

The consultation element is vitally important and I am glad the agency will reflect all the stakeholders. The residents, Dublin City Council, Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the management and students of the DIT must have their say in how the campus should move forward. It was often presumed in the past this would happen naturally but halfway through various plans, they were suddenly dropped because somebody objected. The Minister has a golden opportunity, as the agency goes through each stage, to participate in consultation. If she gets that right, there will be no hitches and the campus will be developed quickly.

I welcome that the composition of the agency will reflect all the stakeholders and I am glad a member of the city council will be appointed on behalf of public representatives. However, when public meetings are held, it is important that the agency should alert all public representatives in the area because their ears are to the ground regarding what is what. The agency should be conscious of all stakeholders, regardless of whether they are represented on it. I would like to think this agency would be conscious of the fact that stakeholders are not just members. Much research and spadework must be done on this issue in terms of getting the process off the ground before we can move much further.

Reflecting on this Bill, the Minister has done her homework, there is much detail, the preparation is well done and I do not doubt it will work. Coming from my educational background, I am delighted to have been able to speak on this matter and that it is coming to fruition. I may return to education as a mature student some day for I believe the Dublin Institute of Technology has it all. As the Minister said, it is a centre of excellence and expertise and I want to be around to see the project realised.

This is a great day for the Dublin Institute of Technology and for the north of Dublin. I have no doubt that everybody who is on side will make a great success of this new concept.

I welcome the Minister to the House and the Bill. I echo Senator Ormonde's statement in that I would also like to be around to see the fruits of this agency's establishment but I hope there is more of a sense of urgency than has been the case to date. These suggestions were first proposed in 1999. All our times come and, as a representative of many of the graduates of the Dublin Institute of Technology, I would not like to think that I might not see the institute moved to its new home. While I welcome the Bill, I hope some sense of urgency sets in.

We are all supposed to declare our interests in various issues. I have a deep interest in this area because many of my electors are graduates of the Dublin Institute of Technology, which gave degrees to worthy graduates for 25 years. There are now more electors on the Seanad register who came through the various colleges of the Dublin Institute of Technology than came through Trinity College, Dublin. They are a valued group and I am glad that some members of the institute's staff are here.

I should acknowledge another interest, in that I am probably the only Member of the House who had any dealings with the old St. Brendan's Hospital at Grangegorman. I warmly welcome this initiative to change the land totally on which that institution was sited. I was a student there in the 1960s. When I went back in the 1980s as a member of the Eastern Health Board, little had changed. The facilities were still appalling. One building in particular, which I remember was described as the "lower house", was in such a state of dereliction that I, who did not live there, unlike some people, was terrified to even go into it during inspections. The whole building was on a slope of approximately 30 degrees. It must have been a very fine building in its day in 1830 but it was in an appalling state in the 1980s. I do not know how we in this country allowed people to live in institutions such as that.

As far as I could see, none of the lavatories had seats. Why did it seem to be all right that we noted this in repeated inspections but the place was always in the same state? The conditions in which people lived there were appalling. I remember the launch by Mr. Barry Desmond of Planning for the Future, which was assisted by many psychiatrists and by improvements in psychiatry. Decades ago, incarceration was the only possible course of action to take with some people with serious mental illnesses but, with the improvements in treatments, it was possible to make changes. I am sad that the changes have taken so long.

It is great to see the area's regeneration. No institute could be more worthy than the Dublin Institute of Technology in gaining access to those grounds. The institute has given a service to the people, not only of Dublin but also the rest of the country, from all the 39 sites it has been on. The institute has also given a service in areas that were not covered by other third level institutions, as mentioned by the Minister in her speech. When I examined the OECD report produced at the end of 2004, I was interested to see it singled out the Dublin Institute of Technology as requiring a sort of consideration separate from the other institutes of technology. I realise that the others are much newer but the OECD recognised the commitment that all those people in the Dublin Institute of Technology gave to this country for so many years.

Trying to work on so many sites must have been nearly impossible. The increase in efficiency and productivity, if one could say that about an institute of learning, will surely be phenomenal when it is on one site. We within Trinity College, Dublin, have been lucky in having people all on the same campus. The great impetus one is given by the exchange of ideas between people from different faculties is something the institute has not had until now. Science was dealt with on Kevin Street, engineering, architecture and so forth on Bolton Street, the humanities in Rathmines and music in the tyre depot on Adelaide Road for a considerable amount of time, which I always found fascinating. Perhaps the depot was not owned by Dunlop but whenever I visited the adjacent school of music, all I could worry about was whether the place would go up in smoke and whether the music students would, too.

I am extraordinarily glad that all of these diverse institutions will now be brought onto the same campus and that people from so many backgrounds and of so many ages will be there and can be taught in the best possible circumstances. The institute is one of the biggest educational institutions in the country. Every year, 20,000 people enrol in a diverse range of academic disciplines, which is a staggering number.

A great deal of the emphasis of the Minister's speech was on research. This comprises much of the emphasis placed on education in institutions nowadays. We should remember that the levels of teaching of the institute's various faculties have been incredibly high. Before one prepares people for research, they must be well taught. Of course, we need them to be interested in the industries in this country but there are fields other than industry. Even the tourism industry requires an input from the humanities, for example. When tourists come to Ireland, they do not want to be given the formula for the most efficient way of utilising beds in a hotel. They want to meet Irish people. I like to think that the persons in the tourism faculty were taught about how to promote our culture, literature and way of life and that this was considered as important as the finances and nuts and bolts of tourism. This is why I want to see more emphasis placed on the faculty of applied arts.

The OECD report placed a low level of emphasis on the humanities, for which I was sorry. The areas within the Dublin Institute of Technology's faculty of applied arts are very individual in many cases and I would like to see them given great prominence when they are relocated to Grangegorman. Promoting this is very important. I mentioned the school of music was in what appeared to me to be a tyre depot. The school moved from Adelaide Road and is now located cheek by jowl with a great many people in Rathmines and Chatham Row. When one examines what is occurring in connection with the Cork School of Music, it does appear that we who promote music and opera festivals in Ireland are not doing much to nourish and nurture those who are trying to teach or their pupils. This is an area that requires much promotion and extra comfort to be given to the people involved and I hope they are given a prominent place in the move to Grangegorman.

The Minister spoke about the faculty for the built environment, which has been revolutionary within the DIT. Where would we have been without the architects and structural engineers graduating from the institute? Great value must be placed on all of the institute's work. Interaction between the students from the various disciplines will be tremendous; they will have an enzymatic effect on each other and goodness knows what may come from this.

When the Universities Bill was going through the Houses, the possibility of giving the Dublin Institute of Technology university status was discussed at length. It is now a degree-awarding body but it was decided at that time to set up a commission to examine the institute and decide what needed to be done before it could have degree-awarding status. That commission has reported and various changes have been made by the institute in an effort to attain university status. Has the institute examined the possibility of becoming part of one of the existing universities? The Minister knows to which university I am referring. It is not difficult to deduce that I am in favour of the institute being associated with Trinity College, in the same way as the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland became associated with University College Dublin. That is an issue for another day, but perhaps the Minister could store it in the back of her mind because while the institute is more than worthy of university status in its own right, it has employed people with degrees from Trinity College for many years. Perhaps the institute would consider that option.

When the legislation establishing the Health Service Executive, HSE, went through this House, I said that I hoped it was a new initiative rather than a rebranding exercise, but I regret to say it is the latter. When Professor Brendan Drumm, who is a friend of mine, applied for the position of chief executive of the HSE and it was announced that he would be appointed to the post, I wrote to him. In my letter I said, "Brendan, I knew things were bad in Crumlin but I did not think they were as bad as all this". I do not know what is happening now but it is profoundly sad that almost a year after that legislation was passed, we still do not have a permanent chief executive for the HSE. It is not the problem of the Minister for Education and Science but people are beginning to think that the chief executive of the HSE will be assigned responsibility without authority. The small team that Professor Drumm had lined up to assist him in the reform of the health service seemed to be admirable. I am not saying this because they agree with everything I say. On the contrary, I have had sparring moments with several of them. However, they were very honourable people and I am sorry that the initiative did not progress.

It is a good idea to locate the HSE in Grangegorman. It would be nice to see the HSE, as well as new primary care facilities, mainly associated with rehabilitation, on a site that has been connected with chronic disease for so long. That is a good initiative which I warmly welcome. I thought that the HSE was going to be a constructive body but for those of us who have worked in the health service for years, the situation at present is profoundly disappointing.

I do not know what buildings on the Grangegorman site will have to be retained. I suspect that some of them have preservation orders on them because they are so old, even though they were in use until relatively recently. I ask the Minister to instil some sense of urgency into this issue. One section of her speech alarmed me where it referred to the plan. She stated:

The plan shall consist of a written statement and will indicate the objectives for the development, including the needs of the Ministers for Education and Science and Health and Children, the DIT, the HSE and the Grangegorman neighbourhood. It must also include the provision of facilities to exploit any research, consultancy or development work undertaken by the agency in conjunction with the DIT or the HSE. In addition, the plan must take account of the needs of the local community by facilitating access to and use of facilities by residents in the Grangegorman neighbourhood.

Senator Ormonde and I would like to see the Grangegorman development take place in our lifetime, but if all of this type of consultation is to take place before there is any action, that will not happen; or we will be brought to the opening in wheelchairs and will be feebly asking "what did you say?" I hope that a sense of urgency can be generated because the Minister's plans are very worthwhile.

I welcome the Minister to the House and I also welcome the Bill, the aim of which is to provide for the development of the Grangegorman site in Dublin as a modern campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology, DIT, and to provide the former Eastern Regional Health Authority with upgraded facilities.

When the Government decided in December, 1999, that the Department of Education would purchase 65 acres at the Grangegorman site from the Eastern Regional Health Authority for a new DIT community campus, an examination of the overall project was set in train. It is absolutely essential that such a development be managed in an integrated and sustainable manner. These are not simply buzz words. The development must fit into the community and landscape in which it is situated. It must also be sustainable because we have a duty to ensure that new projects are managed in such a way as to avoid the mistakes of the past regarding long-term environmental impacts. This is a significant issue because the full Grangegorman site is some 73 acres in the heart of the city, within walking distance of O'Connell Street. It is in a densely populated, primarily residential area so any development must be sensitive and appropriate.

An interdepartmental working group was established by the Taoiseach and reported to Cabinet. This report was followed by an expert strategic review of all of the issues involved in developing the Grangegorman site. The expert recommendations were published in November of 2001 and they highlighted the need for Grangegorman to be developed carefully and strategically. It was deemed necessary to establish a Grangegorman development company to manage the development and determine the type of procurement to be employed. In April 2002, the Government agreed on this course of action and the legislation before us provides for the establishment of the recommended Grangegorman Development Agency. The Bill provides for the agency to undertake the development of the site as a location for education, health and other purposes and is thus to be commended.

I cannot speak highly enough of the role the Dublin Institute of Technology has played in the education and development of people in this country over many years. Although it only became a single academic structure in the 1990s, its origins go back over 100 years. Today, the DIT provides academic, professional, applied and technological education. Courses range from apprentice-based training, through certificate, diploma and degree courses, to postgraduate masters and doctoral courses. The institute's accomplishments in targeted research have made it a successful recipient of national and international research and development funding. All of this, and more, has been achieved while the institute suffers from an operational burden. While Bolton Street, Kevin Street and Aungier Street will all be familiar to Members of the House as DIT locations, how many people fully realise that the institute is spread over 39 buildings on 30 sites across Dublin, as outlined by the Minister? Would many see that as ideal or even appropriate for this modern third level institution?

This brings me to my central point. The institute, of course, must deal with serious operational inefficiencies because of the wide variety of locations. There is a definite negative impact on the institution. Rent for premises has been outlined by the Minister as being in the region of just over €4 million per year. However, I would like to look at the broader implications. A recent report by Forfás to the interdepartmental committee on science and technology set an ambitious target for Ireland to increase expenditure on research and development from 1.4% of GNP to 2.5% of GNP by 2010, in line with the levels of performance in other knowledge-based economies. This target follows the substantial increase in investment by the Government to €2.48 billion, compared with €0.5 billion over the period 1994-99. This momentum must be sustained and built upon.

When I used the phrase "other knowledge-based economies" earlier, I consciously put Ireland in this category. A 2004 report evaluated Ireland's position as an up-and-coming knowledge economy. The findings are important for the topic before us today. While Ireland has just 26% of its workforce in so-called "creative" occupations, it has seen by far the greatest growth in these occupations, experiencing a 7.6% annual growth since 1995. The findings also put Ireland at the top of an index which measures talent and technology growth since 1995. However, Ireland ranks in the middle of the overall "euro talent" index, which looks at the number of university graduates and scientists.

The DIT believes that the proposed development is expected to support some 4,500 knowledge employees, with a substantial number of spin-off jobs arising in the local economy. We cannot overstate the importance of this for our own knowledge economy. Ireland faces strong competition from other economies for foreign direct investment and the associated jobs growth. We have to adapt and move into new sectors in the higher end, with research at their core. We are fortunate that we have the brilliant young people to allow us to do this. However, they deserve the most excellent facilities in which to be taught, to learn and to carry on their research and development activities. The DIT will play an immensely important part in this national advancement.

The development of the Grangegorman site, and the DIT's move there, will allow for the provision of a better research infrastructure. It will allow the DIT to optimise the resources available and to maximise their exploitation. One should think of the practicalities of a single-site campus versus the current disparate one. For example, research activity by its very nature requires state-of-the-art, and consequently, very expensive scientific equipment. Maximising the value of this equipment means sharing it between students as effectively as possible. A single campus would facilitate this process to a far greater extent. The institute will be able to purpose-design new facilities as opposed to appending them to old existing ones.

The DIT has outlined what it sees as the opportunities for growth and new activities, given a single, larger campus. The institute has traditionally supplied top-class graduates to many industries, serving our economy and, as a result, our society. We should take the long-term view and provide the DIT with the ability to take advantage of the opportunities provided by a developed Grangegorman site. It is to the benefit of the institute, to it students and ultimately to our economy.

As I outlined earlier, the surrounding area of the Grangegorman site is, by and large, residential. A sensitive approach and appropriate development are critical. I am satisfied that the legislation presented to us by the Minister makes provision for an extensive consultation process with all interested parties. Examples of these interested parties include local residents, health care staff and patients located on or near the site, the relevant academic and student bodies of the DIT and the ERHA. The strategic importance of the Grangegorman site has been well articulated, as have the benefits that will accrue to the DIT and others. However, it is imperative that local residents, in particular, are included in all the consultations and developments involving this site. This is not just a strategically important site for development. It is also part of people's neighbourhood and community. Their concerns must be heard and responded to. I am happy to welcome this Bill as a mechanism to see the Grangegorman site developed in a sensitive, appropriate, integrated and sustainable manner.

The Minister mentioned links to the DIT and Senators Ormonde and Henry both outlined their links to the institute. I possibly have the greatest number of links to the DIT because I am a former employee. I worked as a clerical officer in the Bolton Street campus; it was my first permanent job there. I took a career break and having pursued the part-time diploma in legal studies, I went on to train as a solicitor. As the Minister is aware, my father worked as admissions officer in the DIT and before that, he was a lecturer in physics in the Kevin Street campus. Every member of my family has studied in the DIT. I am the only one who did not study at the DIT at undergraduate level. My mother went back as a mature student to the Mountjoy Square campus.

I am naturally biased towards the DIT and the institute of technology sector. I felt like jumping out of my seat when Senator Henry mentioned the idea of the DIT becoming a university and possibly being incorporated into Trinity College, Dublin.

Hear, hear and why not? There are lots of nice votes there.

Hopefully they will get votes in their own right if we implement the reform of the Seanad. One thing about the institute of technology sector and the DIT in particular that has always impressed me is the way they have widened access to education and the flexibility they offer students. The DIT has led the way in this regard over the years. Access and flexibility are buzz words in current discourse about third level education. The DIT and individual colleges like Kevin Street and Bolton Street were promoting access and flexibility long before these words entered the discourse. I worked in the registration section of Bolton Street and was aware of people who went from being trades students to certificate night-time students to full-time degree students to postgraduate students. The DIT has led the way in terms of offering that type of flexibility and opportunities to people to avail of education.

I studied English as an undergraduate student at Trinity College, Dublin, where I was a student of Senator Norris. I remember how Trinity College was largely closed at night and at weekends but DIT colleges were open at night and on Saturdays. DIT colleges offered programmes during the summer. I remember studying French at the DIT during the summer when I was a primary school student because the Kevin Street campus was training teachers to teach languages at third level.

There are issues that the DIT still needs to take on board which I will discuss later. Regarding the Bill, the idea of strategic planning, the setting up and staffing of the agency and the drawing up of a plan is the right type of approach for this type of development. I have experience of that approach with Adamstown in Lucan, which was designated by the Government as a strategic development zone. An overall approach to planning for the area was taken instead of the traditional piecemeal approach. It is a far better approach. It is worthwhile taking the same approach with the Grangegorman campus and it is important to involve the community.

With regard to access, the Minister said that the college has already established links with some schools. It is important to make such links and I hope the college builds on them. When I worked in the DIT, there was a great deal of work on access for students to third level courses from PLCs and transitionary courses. At the time, there was a one year course for women who were interested in engineering and would not necessarily have had the traditional qualifications, such as mathematics and so forth. The course was a type of bridge which the institute tried to provide. The institute has done much work in that regard and I hope it does more. A great deal more must be done.

This will offer a great opportunity. It will be in a part of the inner city where there are low participation rates. The ultimate aim of the DIT should be to have its core student population drawn from the inner city. Look at what happens in other areas. When a college is established in a rural town, one will discover after a certain number of years that a large proportion of the student population will come from the surrounding area. If the area previously had a bad participation rate, it now has a better rate. That has always been a geographical factor in participation rates. In addition to one's background, participation is linked to the proximity of a college. City colleges such as TCD and DIT could do more to ensure they attract the local population as a core part of their student bodies, including people from all backgrounds.

When working in the DIT, I also helped administer the ESF grants. The Labour Party conducted a study of the impact of the introduction of free fees in third level education. It found that not only did this increase participation rates in college from every group in society, albeit at a slow rate, but it also reversed the trend of falling participation rates in particular social groups before 1998, as mentioned in the Clancy reports. We analysed the figures and discovered that the participation rates in certain lower middle income groups, that is, salaried employees and so forth, had been dropping. However, one of the steps that reversed that drop was the introduction of ESF funding. That was then improved by the abolition of third level fees. That is shown by the data that are available so far. There is some dispute about it and we still have to see the next Clancy report on its impact but, again, it was the institute of technology sector that led the way in increasing the access of different social groups to third level education.

The Minister mentioned the move to modular delivery of education. That is important because this has been identified by the OECD report, the report of the task force on lifelong learning and various other reports as the way to proceed. The other important issue is the need to do something about the fees regime for part-time students. Both the OECD report and the task force on lifelong learning have recommended that part-time students be treated in the same way as full-time students with regard to fees. That recommendation should be taken on board.

The task force on lifelong learning set out a certain cost for this, which was approximately €23 million, but it said this could be offset by the cut in tax reliefs and in other ways. Furthermore, if one moves to a more modular and credit-based delivery of education, one blurs the distinction between part-time and full-time studies. If colleges are funded per credit instead of per course, it is possible to facilitate that type of development. It also covers the cost of offering free fees to part-time students.

A number of places in full-time courses have already been advertised as vacant by the CAO. Those places could be filled by part-time students who could study those courses during the day, although still on a part-time basis and with the agreement of their employers. It would not involve extra costs because the places and courses are already funded. It simply means part-time students would fill the places.

It is important to have a modular and flexible delivery of education when dealing with the access issue for people who have already finished the primary and second level stages of education. A huge percentage of people did not get further than intermediate certificate in their education. The way to attract them into the education system is by providing a more flexible model of education and by removing the barrier of third level fees. That model of education would also assist people who drop out of the full-time system. It would give them the option of transferring to part-time studies to complete their course instead of dropping out.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister recently on my behalf. It asked for the breakdown of the number of students studying full-time courses and the number studying part-time courses in the universities and institutes of technology in 1997, 2002 and 2004. One disappointing figure relates to the Dublin Institute of Technology. The most recent year for which figures were available was 2003-04 and the Minister's reply showed that the number of part-time students in the DIT in the academic year 1997-98 was higher than the number for the academic year 2003-04. That is despite a slight increase in the number of full-time students and the increase in population of Dublin and the greater Dublin area generally, as a result of immigration, migration from the rest of the country and so forth. That is not a good trend and the college should examine ways to reverse it.

However, that trend it is not necessarily the college's fault. It also relates to the huge cost of delivering part-time courses and the need for the Government to resource colleges properly to do it. It must fund them in a way that incentivises colleges to provide flexible, part-time learning. The Minister and others have spoken about the need to build up a knowledge-based economy. That is the reason this type of study is so important. It is a danger signal when the number of part-time students declines. It has happened not just in the Dublin Institute of Technology. The number of part-time students in all the institutes of technology in the Dublin area is dropping. That is not a good sign and something must be done about it. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, recently announced another report on the need for skills in a knowledge-based economy. He does not require another report. All the recommendations and analyses are available in reports such as that of the task force on lifelong learning.

I disagree with the point made by Senator Henry. I do not believe the Dublin Institute of Technology should become a university. This arises from a mistaken premise that it is somehow better to be a university. That is an outdated point of view. Institutes of technology are and always have been equal to but different from universities. Furthermore, they do so many things better than universities, such as access to education, flexibility in education, the use of their buildings, applied research and vocational education. A study conducted during the recession, when I found it difficult to get a job with an arts degree from Trinity College, found that students from institutes of technology, which were then regional colleges, were more likely to gain employment because of the nature of their qualifications.

There is also the important role of the DIT in trades. We do not want to be like other countries that have gone backwards in regard to trades and find they have no tradespeople. For example, Spain is trying to reverse the neglect of trades education. I hope the DIT maintains a strong role in this regard.

As a university graduate, I am not being critical of the universities. However, in terms of the most important factors, such as access, it is not the DIT that should follow the universities but the other way around. That is what is happening. The universities are considering what the institutes have achieved and have copied them, which is the way forward and how it should be. The universities have learned from the imaginative policies of the institutes of technology over the years and built on them.

This is not just an exciting time for Grangegorman and the Dublin 7 area but for the city of Dublin and the whole third level education community. The investment of over €900 million will be the single largest investment in third level education in the history of the State. It will provide for this country's needs far into the future in a number of areas.

The Grangegorman site is the last remaining major site for development in the city of Dublin, comprising 75 acres, 65 of which will be taken by the DIT and the remainder by the health board. As Senator Ulick Burke pointed out, while the decision for this development was formally made in 1999, negotiations took place for many years prior to that. I met DIT management in the early 1990s and know a plan was formulating even at that stage.

I am delighted the Bill has reached this stage and is almost ready to be put into practice. It is a unique and valuable site. Senator Henry referred to the history of the Grangegorman and St. Brendan's sites. I have spent much time in that area. There is a major historical aspect to the Grangegorman neighbourhood which will be preserved to a great extent by the measures to be taken under the Bill. The development as proposed in the Bill will be integrated and sustainable. This is important, particularly as the area involved has only recently recovered from the bad times of the 1970s and 1980s. The way the Bill has been planned and put together will ensure the sustainability of the campus.

The health care element of the development is essential. The maintenance of the primary care centre, residential, day care and elderly services, intellectual and physical disabilities services and mental health services is crucial to the area. For many years, there have been issues around the integration of past patients of Grangegorman, but those issues have been overcome in the vast majority of cases. The retention of part of the site by the Department of Health and Children is crucial. The integration of services into the educational aspect of the development will prove to be a significant factor over time.

In considering the rationale for the DIT to take this significant step, it was stated that the DIT is based in 39 buildings on 30 different sites. However, it also contains seven libraries, ten canteens, eight admissions offices, seven examination offices and six sports offices spread throughout the city. The foresight shown when the decision was taken to go down this road can only be commended, and I commend the past and present management of the DIT for it. When one considers the make-up of the DIT, which has 20,500 students, 85 full-time programmes, 200 part-time programmes, 4,000 graduates per year, 3,500 apprentices per year and 2,000 staff, it is a massive organisation. The recognition given to it by the framing of the Bill is duly deserved and will pay significant dividends.

The Bill provides at section 12 for access by the local community to the facilities on the campus. This is important, given that the effect it will have on the immediate vicinity will be noticeable. It will be a long-term development. It is hoped it will be completed by approximately 2011. While the first students will have to put up with much building work and disruption, the framework put on the agency in the Bill will ensure any problems that arise can be tackled head-on, or pre-empted in many cases. The provisions in the Bill that allow for the setting up and make-up of the agency will prove in the end to be very effective.

Changes were made in the Dáil to different elements of the Bill, including an increase to the numbers on the agency to include local residents, which is welcome. An important issue was the consultation strategy and the setting up of the consultative group, in which all stakeholders will have a say and a direct link to the planning and final development of the site. With regard to finance, sections of the Bill allow for annual reporting procedures, which are essential to maintaining confidence. There is a definite welcome for this development among local residents, but issues remain to be dealt with, although these can be resolved.

From the perspective of the DIT, Dublin City Council and the various other State agencies involved, there is a definite willingness to co-operate and consult. Dublin City Council has a crucial role to play, particularly in the planning element of the development and the implementation of the plans. I welcome the fact it will be represented on the agency by a councillor and an official. This gives local residents an opportunity to have a direct input through their local representative into the plans and the development, which is welcome. Dublin City Council is in the process of including the development in the development plan for the city, which shows its scope and scale with regard to Dublin city. The effect it will have from an educational and cultural perspective is enormous, not only for its immediate vicinity.

At a recent public meeting to discuss the development, the president of the DIT, Mr. Brian Norton, described the campus as an outward-facing campus. In other words, it is open and accessible, which is a major issue for the local community. I have experience of the community access programmes with which the DIT is involved throughout the city. Some are extremely effective, such as the Dublin inner city schools computers, DISC, programme which provides schools from particularly deprived areas with state-of-the-art technology and backup. These are the areas where this particular development will have the greatest effect. It will provide open access to as many people as possible to take advantage of a state-of-the-art third level facility.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire, agus fáiltím go mór roimh an Bhille seo. Tá an-jab oibre déanta ag an Roinn. Tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach, agus tá sé thar am go mbeadh sé againn. Tá súil agam go n-eireoidh go mór leis an Bhille agus an institiúid amach anseo.

I want to make a number of points, one or two of which Senators might have heard me make before. I must bore them again. I agree with Senator Tuffy that it demeans the institute to seek university status and I am glad it has dropped the issue. It does not need that status, has its own fine reputation and has done an extraordinarily good job. I see it eventually taking centre stage in line with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alphabetically DIT will come before MIT and will match it in every way in the future. The institute's constituent units have developed throughout the city in an extraordinarily positive and energetic manner, and I wish them well. The Dublin Institute of Technology will be superb and it is a waste of energy to raise the issue of university status although I have not heard it do so in a while. It has moved beyond that; it is better than that and does not need such status. I also speak as a university graduate but DIT graduates will also be third level graduates and should vote in Seanad elections. They have a great contribution to make.

I know that section 26 is not the Minister's idea nor is it something any Minister thinks about greatly. It appears in every Bill and annoys me very much. It disallows Members of the Oireachtas from sitting on the agency. There is no explanation for this although I would like to hear one. It is something that Parliamentary Counsel includes in every Bill. However, it is demeaning, insulting and offensive that Members of the Oireachtas are deprived in this way. It is not that any of us wish to sit on the agency, but the provision is unnecessary. If, at some stage in the future, the Minister reached a period in her political life whereby she was no longer involved in Cabinet — although I do not wish that on her — she could make a major contribution in this capacity. Former Ministers could become involved. The section is unnecessary and the Minister should remove it. We do not need it and it adds nothing to the Bill.

We recently discussed the OECD report on third level education which most of the world jumped up and down to greet and welcome with enthusiasm. It contained many good elements, but there were a few which bothered me and to which I was opposed. One of these elements comes centre stage tonight, namely, the place of the institutes of technology with regard to research and development. The case was well made in the Minister's speech about the importance of research and technology. It is clear that Ireland will not be manufacturing widgets for much longer. It is also clear that much of the research, technology and design which we will need in the future will come from institutes such as DIT and be of a high level. However, as we have moved up the food chain in terms of economic development the type of technology we developed 20 years ago is being designed equally well in other countries where people are prepared to work incredibly long hours. Those countries can continue to design at a low level. We are at a stage in our economic development where the research and development that we need to carry out must take place at doctorate level.

The OECD report stated that institutes of technology would not be able to deal with doctorates and that this would be best left to universities. There is a contradiction between that assertion and the Minister's speech, which is the point I previously tried to make. The DIT is a fine institution. The Minister said it demands close co-operation with industry to maximise technology transfers. I fully agree with that statement, although it is slightly old fashioned in terms of language. I do not like the term "technology transfer" but I understand the thinking behind it in that it is a technology, research, information and knowledge conduit and not simply a straight transfer. It goes over and back. For that to happen, at the level of which our economy has now developed, doctorate level research, design and development is required. This must happen in places such as the institutes of technology and the Minister should use her best efforts to ensure they get the resources to do so. It can be done through a straight transfer of resources, tax breaks for people who take on the onerous task of studying for a doctorate or by dealing with groups such as Science Foundation Ireland and ensuring they give the same consideration to the institutes of technology as they do to universities in this regard. This is crucial to our future development, economically and otherwise. That was one of the problems I had with the OECD report and is well illustrated tonight. I do not think the Minister will disagree with my point, which we have discussed previously.

The issue of information technology was also missing from the OECD report. It did not get any great consideration. I would like to see DIT and other institutes of technology get the opportunity to develop Internet-based learning. In her speech, the Minister used the well-fashioned term "outreach centres" and I remember them well. Outreach centres are now in people's living rooms, offices and workplaces. They do not need to gather in such places, although they may should they wish. Technology has developed; Hibernia College has managed to develop Internet-based learning for teacher education to a certain extent. Imagine what DIT could do in terms of supporting professionals and industry and in terms of what we want to see happening in regional Ireland. This is a knowledge gateway and a way in which we can give new life and energy to much trapped intellectual capacity in parts of Ireland which are far away from third level colleges. This is a way in which to release such intellectual capacity by giving people access and having a balance of attendance and Internet-based knowledge. The institutes need support and encouragement in that direction.

The institutes of technology deal with apprenticeships. I feel strongly about the university issue, as does Senator Tuffy. We have reached a stage in Irish society where some people conclude that those with degrees must be educated. As teachers, the Minister and I will find this amazing in that we know that some of the least educated people we have met have a string of degrees and letters after their names. However, the obverse of that problem is that some people think that those without degrees are questionable in terms of knowledge. Irish society has lost an entire generation of tradespeople. There are very few Brendan Behans remaining, people who could paint during the day and write at night or be carpenters during the day and attend the opera at night. Arts and literature have been directed away from people in trade and apprenticeships. I have tried unsuccessfully to raise this matter with the crafts unions over the years. I pleaded that apprenticeships be exposed to arts and literature in a way that was not stressful and did not include exams. I was referring to the sharing of an experience and growing to love something. Everybody can have an equal appreciation of arts and literature regardless of their background or the work they do, whether they are nuclear physicists or nuerosurgeons, painters or carpenters. Everybody in this chamber would agree with me. I would like to see some movement in that direction.

I will conclude with a story that may be of some use to the authorities at DIT. I was at the opening of an educational institution in a lovely greenfield setting. Speaking to the designer of this beautiful building, I pointed out that there were no paths and roadways between the buildings. I wondered how the students got from the road to the building. He replied that he would return in two months and would lay paths when he could see where the students had been walking. When DIT finalises this project it can leave the paths until last and the students can show it the shortcuts they take. In order to prevent people walking on the grass the paths can be laid where the students have walked. On that note of levity I wish the Minister well. Go n-éirí leis an mBille ag an bpointe seo.

I was not going to speak on this matter until I read the Minister's script. Unlike Senator O'Toole, I admire it very much and find it comprehensive in its scope. I was involved with DIT for over five years and later in the Department of Public Enterprise when this idea was set up. It started as a visionary idea and I recall the it being mooted during the five years while I was Minister for Education although I cannot remember who was the spark behind it. The Minister does not say whose idea it was but perhaps she can enlighten us. I know the Taoiseach was very involved in it. There must be someone who decided one day that this was what would happen and that DIT would no longer have to exist on 11 acres, in 39 buildings on 30 sites.

Can one imagine trying to have an authoritative air about such a university? Can one imagine trying to keep track of professors, students, cleaners and administrators? We are all familiar with the various outposts including Kevin Street, Bolton Street and the college of marketing but the administrative burden of keeping track of them never struck me before.

Everybody likes to talk about the old universities. They like to talk about Queen Elizabeth and what she did for Trinity College. I am referring to the first Queen Elizabeth, not the present one. There is the influence of Cardinal Newman on UCD, now referred to as NUI, Dublin. DIT is an institution that has educated people for well over 100 years, a fine tradition of education.

I liked what Senator O'Toole said about apprenticeships. There was a time people looked down on apprenticeships because they were incorrectly deemed not to be proper third-level education courses. This college will have an eclectic mix of studies, disciplines, students, professors, degrees and diplomas. It will be on one site and there will be a spirit of collegiality, which is difficult to develop if one is miles from one's college. One's horizons are bounded by one's campus. Although the campus at Bolton Street or Kevin Street has wonderful facilities, students, professors and tutors, one is bounded by the physical environment in which one is based. In the new environment I can imagine spirits will soar into the skies with ideas, creativity, knowledge gained and knowledge sought.

DIT is an old college with a great background, serving as it did the whole artisan idea in Dublin. That was a noble start to the DIT concept. I was involved in legislation in that regard in my time in the Department of Education.

When I read the Minister's script I had a vision of the completed campus even though my knowledge of the area is so poor that I know America better than I know Grangegorman. I had a vision of the completed site, and how it would be thronged with students from everywhere, academic staff and creative staff. I like the idea of music, art and creativity that is already present in DIT. It is great that the institution had time to develop these disciplines. It would have been easy for people to say that these were not needed, given that DIT was involved in science and technology. The artistic side of life remained central to the college ethos and this was impressive at a time when utilitarian concerns, leading to immediate jobs, were the impetus in education.

It is a worthy idea that there will be community involvement, as there has been in Dublin docklands and the college in that area, the National College of Ireland. For too long universities had big glass walls, if not real walls, around them. The community and the college were separated and there was not as much interaction as there should have been. Community involvement is appropriate as Kevin Street and Aungier Street were the centre of the old part of Dublin. Both sides will benefit from this involvement.

The conservative estimate of this project is €900 million, a considerable amount of money. The project will move forward in a strategic, planned, gradual way. There will be much heartache, many headaches and fights between all kinds of people before the project is completed but the struggle will be well worth it. I note that very valuable properties are to be transferred to the agency, which will then sell them whenever good value can be realised. As valuable properties in an attractive area they can realise a considerable sum of money towards the final project.

I wish the Grangegorman development agency well in its future composition, and wish DIT well also. The university Senators spoke, as is to be expected as they get their votes from university graduates. I am sure this will be a fertile ground for them. I have kept in touch with DIT and many staff members have been kind enough to keep me informed through correspondence and invitations to various functions. I have always been glad to go as the various colleges are responsive to the needs of people. There is no point in setting up something that is a monolith and in which no one is interested.

Of the areas of education with which I was involved, DIT and the primary sector are the two with whom I have kept the closest links. These are the two most important elements within education. I wish the Minister well in her takeover of the Grangegorman development agency and I wish DIT well in its new manifestation. I look forward to an invitation to its unveiling.

I welcome the Minister to the House on this positive occasion. I recognise the presence in the Visitors Gallery of Professor Brian Norton, whose name has already been referred to several times in the debate, as well as a distinguished group from the Dublin Institute of Technology.

I welcome this development because it is on the north side of Dublin. We have seen consistent asset stripping by this and every other Government of everything from the north side. Thank God, at last, something really important is being put back.

Have we not got Senator Norris?

I thank the Leader for her compliment. She is full of plámás but we want jobs, institutions and investment. Plámás is all very fine after we have got the investment but we must get the investment first.

Like other speakers, I wish to pay tribute to the DIT. It not just a question of votes because the number of votes is fairly small. There was a period when Trinity College conferred degrees on behalf of the DIT but that has stopped now.

Of course, we all welcome votes and let us not pretend otherwise because without them we would not be here to speak about matters in which we are interested. Like Senator O'Toole, I think the DIT should be enfranchised whether or not it is to become a university. I would like to see all the Dublin colleges, including the DIT, come in with Trinity College so we would have a Dublin constituency. The NUI, which was always national, would then have a larger and wider constituency so we would get two different characteristics. Otherwise, one might as well lock the whole lot in together. That is really a by-product of this issue, however, which is not terribly important to the debate.

I congratulate Senator Tuffy on one of the best speeches I have ever heard her make in the House. She really spoke passionately from the heart. She made me green with envy when she said the DIT is open on Saturdays, which is a lot more than this place is. We could look at that idea if we are really serious about the work we are doing here.

God bless Senator O'Toole's innocence, although I never thought I would use that phrase concerning him. If he thinks Brendan Behan was a tradesman, he did not know him. I knew Behan vaguely. Some time ago, a letter from the North of Ireland came into my possession complaining in language that would take the paint off this ceiling, about Behan's utter, total and absolute inadequacy as a house painter and the various diversions he got up to. He would have fitted into the DIT, however, not as an apprentice house painter but in the centre for the creative arts.

The aspect I like about this Grangegorman project is that it will bring so much together, creating a vital synergy between all these arts. We know the history of Kevin Street and Bolton Street, which goes back to 1887.

And Cathal Brugha Street.

Cathal Brugha Street is just down the road from me. I spent a wonderful, imaginative evening there recently.

The Senator invited me there last year but I was unable to go.

Yes, but Senator O'Rourke was there the previous year.

She is still remembered there.

I wish to refer to the disposal of these properties, I am thinking particularly of Cathal Brugha Street which has contributed enormously to the development of tourism in every way, including teaching excellent skills. We always had the best raw materials but we could make an awful bags of them in catering, although now we are among the finest in the world. What about the building, however? It is a wonderful, art deco building that would make a stunning hotel which could employ some of its graduates.

It is beautiful.

I hope it will not be demolished and replaced by something like that ghastly telephone house across the road. In that case, we demolished a row of 18th century buildings and sold the site to a British trade union's pension fund, which built that monstrosity and rented it back to the State. If anything was ever provincial, it was that act of vandalism.

As regards the question of the DIT becoming a university, I felt there was a bit of inverted snobbery in what Senator O'Toole said. I am delighted with institutes of technology. I am not sure but I think the Massachusetts Institute of Technology classifies itself as a university. I am prepared to give autonomy to the DIT. If it wants to be a university, it knows what it wants so let it at it. Let us not have any inverted snobbery. There was a time when the DIT did want that status. While it may be wrong, a part of one's status internationally is based on perception. If the DIT decides it wants to be a university and seeks my assistance in promoting that, I will do so. I do not give a damn about inverted snobbery. Let trades be part of a university. I was listening to a programme about the leaving certificate applied course which includes an examination on hair care and beauty. That is fine because such work provides a lot of employment. I would caution somewhat against what I call inverted snobbery.

In an interesting speech the Minister went through the history of the purchase of the Grangegorman site. I will not recap on that but it was imaginative to buy 65 acres. I am also glad that a little section was left to continue the tradition of Grangegorman in serving the needs of people who are in intellectual, mental or emotional difficulties. I am glad that an after-care service will be provided there.

It is also a good idea to rationalise and get rid of these properties, and thus avoid paying the rental which currently costs €4.15 million. There will be savings at the end of the day. The Minister referred to the remarkable courses offered by the DIT, including digital and other new media technology.

I listened with interest to what Senator Brady said because he is a representative from that area and was a member of the local authority.

He is from the north side and we have kept him.


I am an asset on the north side.

He is definitely an asset.

He will not be stripped either.

The consultation process may not go far enough, however, because people want to be included in decision making. I have been lobbied on that matter by some of the local groups. Among the impressive documents I received in this respect were some brochures from the DIT. They are fascinating because they encapsulate what the proposed development is all about. The opening paragraph states:

The campus will be located at Grangegorman in Dublin's north-west inner city. Combining experience in Ireland with best practice internationally, it will be one of the most exciting developments in higher education in Europe. Integrated with the locality and with the fabric of the city, it will incorporate flexible, international-standard facilities for students and staff, as well as for industry partners and the local community.

The new campus will cater for 21,000 students, with 85 full-time programmes, 200 part-time programmes, six faculties and a staff of 2,000. That is big by any standards. The 21,000 students break down as 10,000 full time, 7,000 part time and 4,000 apprentices. All six faculties will bring them together in an interesting learning environment, including library resources. I will not read out the list because anyone can do so.

I am glad to see the inclusion of a cultural and artistic centre where Brendan Behan would fit in, rather than in the paint workshops. Sports facilities will also be included and I hope they put in a swimming pool. Trinity College does not have a pool which is a great pity. It is important that the new campus should be linked to the local community through proper access which will lift the entire area.

I welcome the fact that some 2,000 residential places will be provided on campus, which will provide a community spirit. That used to be the difference between Trinity College and UCD which had no residential places.

It has now.

It has now, so it is not a big deal.

I always thought it was a pity, although I did not look down on UCD because there were wonderful things out there. However, the provision of residential places coupled with the tutorial system really seemed to mark Trinity College out. It was not the old buildings but the fact that students lived on campus and the college was alive with university clubs.

The Grangegorman proposal is a wonderfully imaginative development, whether one calls it a university or an institute of technology. It does not matter to me because it is up the DIT to choose a name. Such developments can, however, help to lift areas of disadvantage. I urge the Minister to ensure that it will do so in that area of the city. The Minister has received a letter from the inner city network.

Thousands of them.

I am sure she has received thousands of letters. The inner city network has made some very good points. According to the census, 15,000 local people in the area left school at or before 15 years of age. Although there has been an increase in educational attainment, much of that is accounted for by people who have moved into the apartments that have been built there in recent years. Less than 3% of local people in one block of flats have had any contact with third level education. We must lift that figure by bringing people together into our developing and now quite rich community. I hope the Minister will find a way of doing this because it is important to include members of the local community in the new Grangegorman project. A strategic plan with practical points is required to spell out how the project can improve the whole community. Let us live up to the idea of social inclusion, ensure that people represent the area and bear in mind that it is quite a complex area. The north west or north inner city is not just one block. It includes Constitution Hill, Rathdown and Grangegorman, North Circular Road, Cabra, Stoneybatter, Smithfield and the markets area.

This is a good day for education in Ireland. We all welcome the Bill and look forward to the development. As Senator O'Rourke, a former Minister for Education, said, we all look forward to the day when we celebrate with our colleagues in the DIT a wonderful day for all of us, not just in Dublin but in Ireland.

I warmly welcome the Minister, the Bill and the Minister's comprehensive speech. Our Leader's speech about the origins of the idea reminded me of a remark by former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt about the origin of the European monetary system. He chided someone, saying "Il ne faut pas chercher la paternité des idées”—one must not look for the source of ideas.

I was not doing that.

As Senator Henry reminded us, Grangegorman was a byword for what was most depressing in the city of Dublin. The project now before us is an enormously exciting initiative. I presume the figure of €900 million is a gross one as I assume the existing sites all have a value which will contribute considerably to reducing the net cost. The project will help deal with the deprived area of the inner city and will be part of the revival which is already under way in places like Smithfield.

In her comprehensive speech, the Minister detailed in so many different areas courses which the DIT was running on its own or with another third level institute. I was interested in but will not dwell on what the Minister said the DIT was doing in the conservatoire area of music, which has a somewhat chequered history. During the debates on that, the DIT made clear what it was doing. The DIT has probably the best employment record of any third level institution in the country.

When the RTCs were upgraded to institutes of technology, that put a certain squeeze on the DIT and the Waterford Institute of Technology. I will declare my interests at this stage. I have a family member on the staff of the DIT and I am a member of the foundation of the WIT.

I will say a little about the university issue and illustrate it by an anecdote. A German bank recently advertised what they are calling the William Rowan Hamilton prizes. This year is the bicentenary of that scientist's birth. The prizes, of which there are several, are for excellence in maths, and I understand they are administered by the Royal Irish Academy. The prizes are for people in their penultimate year of study, but maths graduates from the DIT are not eligible to compete. There is a lot of hidden educational snobbery about, which I regard as an absolute scandal. It is because of this hidden form of discrimination that third level institutions like the WIT and the DIT want university status.

The Leader will recall that in 1989, when she and the Taoiseach of the day, Charles Haughey, were contemplating giving university status to the college in Limerick and to DCU, there was a great deal of resistance. Words were spoken into people's ears.

That is probably an understatement. The Leader and Charles Haughey had the courage to do the right thing. Does anyone now criticise those decisions? I will not beat about the bush. The best time may be when the move to Grangegorman is complete, but the Dublin Institute of Technology deserves university status because of its students, its staff and the research they do. I will make a similar argument on another occasion for a university of the south east modelled on the University of Ulster. There will be people in the National University of Ireland, in Trinity College and so on who will advise against this, and say it is a question of standards. Those colleges draw people from the south east. The argument has been conclusively made, and it was made in the Minister's speech, regarding the linking of technology, third level education and employment. The Minister will probably want to be remembered for many initiatives in education, but I urge her, as the Leader did in 1989, to give this issue her serious consideration.

Garret FitzGerald was very cross about that issue.

He was also cross about the institutes of technology.

Gabhaim buíochas leis na Seanadóirí ar fad a ghlac pháirt sa díospóireacht. It is always a pleasure to come to the Seanad, if only to compare the type of debate with that of the Dáil. With the latter House perhaps having more local representatives, much of the debate there focused on the local representation and community involvement, whereas in the Seanad the debate revolved largely around the educational institutes and the education involvement. That is what this site is all about. The development of the Grangegorman site is, in the first instance, for the Dublin Institute of Technology.

I was interested to hear of various people claiming as much involvement as others in the Dublin Institute of Technology. It is to the credit of the DIT that so many people at all levels of society in Ireland have had an involvement in it. It is exactly 20 years ago since Senator Liam Fitzgerald, Deputy Pat Carey and I, all new members of the CDVEC, used to meet with the Minister for Education of the day, the current Leader of the House, Senator O'Rourke, to discuss issues pertaining to the DIT, when Eamon Tuffy was education officer there. It all comes back to haunt us.

That is true.

It shows that we have all had some sort of involvement. Whatever it was, in light of the debate that has taken place here tonight, we can all claim due credit in some way for part of the development of the Dublin Institute of Technology. Everyone in this House recognises the role it plays and the challenge before it when based on a single site, when it can deliver even more for the local community with the outward-looking campus it intends to have.

There were some debates not central to the legislation but clearly of interest regarding "to be or not to be" a university, to consult at length or not to consult, and the role of the local community. All of these are valid issues for debate, including the Seanad representation, the votes in the Seanad elections and so on. It is the joy of Second Stage legislation that one gets to discuss all these issues without having to deal with any of them. When it comes to Committee Stage, there may be specific issues of interest to people.

Senator Ulick Burke asked at the outset whether the agency would continue to manage the site, and how that would relate to the bodies which will be using it. Once the site is fully developed, the agency will be dissolved, and the buildings will be vested in the relevant body according as they are ready. Accordingly, the agency will not interfere in any way with the management of the Dublin Institute of Technology or with the Health Service Executive and its role there.

Regarding the development of the building projects, Senator Burke adverted to the Cork School of Music. One could on the other hand look at the National Maritime College in Cork to see how it became successful so quickly. The development of all the buildings will be done through the agency and the National Development Finance Agency. By then we will have perfected various methods of the delivery of projects.

This will be a major investment and the development will take a number of years. The first step lies in setting up the agency. I do not know who first had the idea of this development but I know who is driving it. It is not the Minister for Education and Science, much as I would like to claim credit for it. The person driving it is, undoubtedly, the Taoiseach. He has taken a personal interest in it from the outset and is anxious it goes forward. If one needs somebody on one's side, the best person to have is the Taoiseach. Therefore, we can have great optimism that the legislation will not just pass through the House, but will set up the agency with a view to moving quickly towards the development of the site, which is the main interest of the staff members of the DIT who are here and who followed the legislation, word for word, through the Dáil.

We accepted a number of amendments in the Dáil and when we get to Committee and Report Stages here, I will be happy to accept any amendments that add to the legislation and to what, ultimately, will be an exciting development, not just for education but for the city of Dublin.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 21 June 2005.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.