Thursday, 23 October 1969
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. FitzGerald: Is the Minister not aware of the recent report of the Higher Education Authority and the fact that his Department has, until last year, never spent even £1 million in one year on the university buildings; that the backlog now created requires an average of £4 million to be spent over six years. £24 million in all, to catch up with the backlog left by the neglect of his Department? Does the Minister accept the recommendation of the Higher Education Authority that this sum be spent over the next six years?
Mr. Faulkner: I do not accept that there has been any neglect on the part of my Department in relation to the provision of accommodation. I have outlined here the sums that are at present being spent. I am having the report of the Higher Education Authority  examined in very great detail. As the Deputy is aware, this is an autonomous body which did not report to me or to the Government but I am studying the report myself and I am also having it studied by my Department.
Mr. Desmond: In view of the need to allocate the very scarce capital resources can we have any assurance from the Minister that the programme of such expenditure on buildings will be brought into the merger investigations of the Government? How do we stand in terms of the projected building development? Are we going to build first and merge afterwards in terms of university buildings?
Dr. FitzGerald: Would the Minister say if he appreciates the need to avoid delay in this matter? We appreciate his need to re-study the merger question as he has recently been appointed to his present position but does the Minister appreciate the importance of ensuring that the merger, which has already held up university developments for two and a half years, is not used as an excuse for any further delay in view of the enormous backlog of buildings, and, indeed, of the provision of current resources and staff?
Mr. Faulkner: The Deputy is aware that the Higher Education Authority is  studying the whole question of the merger. It is meeting representatives of the various bodies concerned and will make recommendations in due course. Until I get these recommendations I will be unable to make a final decision as to what I am going to do.
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