Wednesday, 3 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Crowe: I made the point before lunch that there should be a level playing field regarding the IT colleges and the universities. A point that arose during the discussions with the universities and the heads of the IT colleges was that there was no mechanism in place to allow many IT colleges receive funding from individuals, different groups and so on. Perhaps the Minister could examine that in the context of the Bill.
I share the concerns of other Deputies about the make-up of the agency and the membership of the board. Residents are keen that they will have a say and confidence in that agency. There must be balance in that regard. There must also be gender balance in the membership of the agency. The Bill refers to a chairperson but in her contribution the Minister referred to a chairman. There must be balance in this area. The previous Minister for Education and Science, when setting up a particular group, said he would introduce balance and I ask this Minister to give the same commitment. I agree also that there should be trade union representation on the board.
I welcome that psychiatric services will be maintained in the area. St. Brendan’s has served the area well. Given that there is an ageing local population, a facility for the elderly would be important. It could be a step-down facility providing services specifically geared to the elderly. The proposed Dublin city development plan 2005 is seeking a site for an Educate Together school. Perhaps the new agency would consider that. It is the last green site in the area. There are 200 pupils in the school and it has been moved from one premises to another. It is now based in St. Joseph’s.
I welcome the Minister’s statement which provides a good deal of information. However, the timescale for the project is unclear to many residents who regularly ask us about it. When will work begin on the site? How long will it take? In what year will it be finished? We need to get that information to the community. There is a lack of information and that is part of the difficulty that has arisen. The community must have a say in the development of the site and there must be better balance in the agency.
Mr. Gregory: I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. The redevelopment of this major site is of immense importance to the constituency I represent as the site is located in the heart of Dublin Central. I welcome its redevelopment with the campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology as its centre point
The long-term impact will be to transform this part of Dublin so close to the city centre. It will certainly bring significant change in a way that will benefit the local community and the city generally. Much of the adjoining area is already subject to redevelopment and integrated area plans have been in place for some time. The markets area, for example, is being redeveloped by the historic area rejuvenation project. The O’Connell Street area is also the subject of an integrated area plan.
These plans are already transforming the areas from Grangegorman to the city centre. West of Grangegorman, the last major city council flats complex at O’Devaney Gardens has recently been targeted for renewal and, to the east, redevelopment of the Dominick Street flats complex is under way. There is one dramatic difference in the Grangegorman proposal before the House. The renewal of all the other areas is being conducted under the transparent and democratic control of Dublin City Council while this Bill seeks to establish a special development agency to carry out the redevelopment of Grangegorman.
I am not opposed in principle to the establishment of an agency to spearhead this important project provided it is done in co-operation with Dublin City Council. However, I have a fundamental problem with the composition of the agency as outlined in the Bill. In so far as its membership is specified in the Bill, it is an elitist group divorced from the local communities. If there is to be real accountability, there should at least be provision for a resident from the local community organisations to be in the agency. This would merely be one member of an 11 member body. The member would represent an essential, democratically based ingredient and would enable the agency to work more easily and in harmony with the communities adjacent to it, on whose lives the redevelopment of that site will undoubtedly have a profound impact.
If the Minister agrees to put a resident in the agency, that resident should not be chosen by the Minister. With no disrespect to the Minister concerned, that would almost inevitably lead to a safe party associate being chosen for the position. That is not what I or the residents in the area have in mind. The resident should be nominated by the various local residents’ groups, of which there are a number in the areas around Grangegorman. There are responsible, knowledgeable and intelligent residents’ groups whose representative would be a valuable asset to the deliberations of the agency. The local communities are supportive of the DIT project. If their value is recognised in this way, they would help ensure the speedy progress of the redevelopment. However, the only way their role and value can be fully recognised is if they can nominate a representative as a member of the agency. To refuse this request would be a mistake.
The Minister will say that the Bill establishes a consultative body and that all local interests will be fully represented on it, including the residents. I have some experience of agencies and consultative bodies. I have been a member of the Dublin Docklands Council, the consultative body attached to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. This concept does not work. The consultative body is a talking shop. It can debate the most controversial issues ad nauseam and make a recommendation to the authority. The latter can choose to ignore the recommendation and provide no explanation to the consultative body for doing so. As the Minister said earlier, the agency would consider recommendations or submissions. It is a little like a family who, after approaching Dublin City Council for a house, are told they will be considered for a house. That is the last one hears of the house. It is also the last the consultative body would hear of its recommendation if it did not have somebody in the agency to press the case and to ensure that the concerns of the residents are being addressed.
The Minister has the flexibility to ensure that a local resident nominated by the established residents’ groups in the area can be put on the agency. The agency has 11 members in all and fewer than half of them have been specified. In this way, the residents would have a genuinely meaningful role on the agency. If that concession is granted, I will gladly support this Bill. If, however, residents are consigned to the so-called consultative body, I will not be able to support it wholeheartedly.
In any area of major redevelopment, it should be a basic right of the people who live there to be represented on the agency overseeing the renewal of the area. As an extension of that principle, section 11 of the Bill refers to the preparation of a strategic plan by the agency. It lists the bodies with which it will consult in doing so. Again, there is no mention of the local community. This omission is extraordinary. Not only is it a serious error, it is an affront to the hard working, responsible local residents’ organisations. I trust this error will be rectified by the Minister on Committee Stage. If not, it will be seen as symptomatic of both her approach and that of the legislation to local residents.
When the Bill refers to other “interested parties”, it is talking about the residents but it specifies certain interested groups, not the residents. This illuminates the approach towards the local residents of those involved in drawing up the legislation. I would like this to be rectified and for the residents to have right of place and to be specified in the Bill.
Section 11 has a further equally serious omission. The section lists the objectives for the redevelopment of the Grangegorman site but it does not specifically mention the commitment given in this House in reply to parliamentary questions, many of which I tabled. I refer to the commitment to allocate a site to the Dublin 7 Educate Together non-denominational primary school. I ask the Minister to make specific provision for the school in section 11 and make clear that a site must be set aside to accommodate this school. A commitment was given by the Taoiseach in parliamentary replies to myself and other local Deputies. It should be in the Bill but is not, and I hope it will be inserted by the Minister on Committee Stage so there will be no confusion or vagueness about the matter. The Dublin 7 Educate Together school is a terrific tribute to the parents and staff who built it up from nothing and who sourced several buildings at different stages and different locations to house the school on a temporary basis while waiting for a site at Grangegorman, where they can finally achieve their goal of a permanent base for a modern school building. This commitment must be honoured and provision must be made for it in the Bill.
Section 11 sets down as part of the strategic plan the objective of the provision of recreational facilities. It is most important that any such facilities be shared with and accessible to the local residents. Again, commitments have been given that the amenities of the site will be available to the local community. However, this should be clearly set down as an objective of the strategic plan. The Minister in her remarks stated that such access is envisaged. While I am quite good with the English language, I am not 100% sure what “envisaged” means. It either means there is a commitment to ensure that the local community will have access to these amenities or not. If there is a commitment, it should be specified in the Bill. Every other relevant agency and the part it will play is specified in the Bill. Equally, access for the residents should be specified and should be clearly set down as an objective of the strategic plan.
Cuirim fáilte roimh an deis chainte ar an mBille tábhachtach seo agus tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire sásta na hathraithe a ndearna mé tagairt dóibh a gcur i bhfeidhm. Beidh mé ag éisteacht go géar le freagraí an Aire ar na pointí sin.
Mr. Carey: Gabhaim buíochas leat, a Cheann Comhairle, as ucht seans a tabhairt dom labhairt ar an mBille tábhachtach seo, an Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004. If ever I must declare an interest, I must record that from 1985 to 1997 I was in some or other way associated with the DIT and its governing body as a member of City of Dublin VEC and its governing body. I only left the membership of the DIT when some ludicrous legislation was invoked, brought in by what Government I do not know, which precludes Deputies and Senators from being members of such bodies.
Mr. Carey: It was not ring fencing. I pay tribute to the Minister for bringing forward the Bill. As Chief Whip, she took a particular interest in ensuring it would be brought forward. I know also of the particular interest of the Taoiseach in ensuring the Bill would reach the Statute Book.
Those of us who have been for many years associated with the VEC, the DIT and other agencies might be tempted to ask “what if?” in regard to the former Albert College grounds. When the late Jim Tunney was Leas-Cheann Comhairle and vice-chairman of the VEC and Paddy Donegan was chairman, they wanted to move the DIT onto what is now the DCU site. DCU has grown from humble beginnings to being a significant academic institution. In some respects, it is a pity the opportunity was not available to allow the City of Dublin VEC to locate that part of its development on the Albert College site. Sin scéal eile and there is no point going back over it.
The Bill presents a major opportunity for a significant contribution to be made not just to education but to Dublin city. When I speak on topics such as this, I like to consider the final page of a Minister’s speech. I am pleased to note what the Minister stated earlier. The conclusion of her speech is as close as one could get to a mission statement in regard to this project. The Minister stated:
In fulfilling the mission outlined by the Minister in her contribution, DIT and Dublin city will be transformed and huge opportunities will be presented to the young and not so young to study at the range of levels for which the DIT is noted. If I get an opportunity, I will say a word or two in their ears in regard to the dangers of upward academic drift. Some of those in the Gallery know my views on that issue.
The 73 acre site was identified in the late 1980s by the then acting director, Mr. Michael O’Donnell, the principal of DIT Bolton Street, as an ideal location for the relocation of the DIT campus. We all know and the Minister has stated how dispersed the DIT campus is, stretching over perhaps 39 different locations throughout the city. The locations are as disparate as Prussia Street and Sackville Place as well as the high profile sites at Rathmines, Kevin Street, Bolton Street, Chatham Row and Cathal Brugha Street. In addition, the White House and all sorts of other coloured premises have been and are associated with DIT.
Central to the development of DIT were Mr. Michael O’Donnell and his colleagues, Mr. Tom Madden, Mountjoy Square, the late Mr. Jim Hickey, director of the College of Commerce, as it then was, in Rathmines, Mr. Bob Lawlor, Cathal Brugha Street, Mr. Frank Brennan, Kevin Street and Mr. Frank Heneghan, College of Music, Chatham Row. I am sure I have left out some names but those mentioned and their colleagues, working closely with the academic council of the DIT, were an enthusiastic, visionary and ambitious group and were the first to succeed in persuading Government.
I note that one of the officials present in the House worked closely with the then Minister for Education, Senator O’Rourke, in bringing about a unified structure for the DIT. I had the opportunity to make an input to the development of the DIT as a unified structure using a faculty structure. While not all the aims set out were achieved, a long journey was undertaken and much was achieved.
The underdevelopment of that part of the city is a further matter. Apart from the Liberties area of Dublin city, this was the most historic part of the city associated with the Vikings, Normans and medieval era. It was ripe for transformation. A body similar to the one proposed in the Bill has achieved much for Dublin inner city, the Docklands, Temple Bar, Smithfield, Collins Barracks and Kilmainham. An agency not unlike this has been successful in transforming housing in Ballymun.
Tribute must be paid to those who established the colleges of technology and the apprentice schools, many of whom have gone to their eternal reward. Tribute should also be paid to local elected representatives who, through their membership of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee and associated bodies, worked with the committed staff of the institute in developing an educational structure for Dublin, second to none. Dublin City Council can take pride in establishing the College of Music in Chatham Row, long before such colleges were developed in other cities.
The Minister and other Members spoke of the range of courses offered by the Dublin Institute of Technology. This is education provision at every level, from apprenticeship right through to post-doctoral study. The Minister has the laudable intention to promote high-end research, high quality interaction with industry and create synergies with the scientific community. These should be pursued at a more accelerated level. However, I must urge caution. It is not right that the Dublin Institute of Technology is the poor relation in this area to many other universities. It has a unique ability to develop the area of applied research which the more traditional academic universities have not pursued. There was the pioneering work of Dr. Marlene Proctor on food matters in Cathal Brugha Street where it was neither popular nor remunerative to become involved in research projects. I remember the difficulties experienced by the Dublin Institute of Technology directors in trying to access meagre funds from the Government to become involved in pioneering work in the food technology area.
I know of the work of Kevin Street in ophthalmics with St. James’s Hospital, in the days when it was unheard of colleges and universities to work with hospitals or industry. I am aware of the pioneering work of the product development centre carried out in Prussia Street in a leased IDA Ireland building. At a time when campus companies were unheard of in Ireland, Michael O’Donnell, a former principal of Bolton Street, first spoke about them after he saw them in operation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The setting up of the Dublin Business Innovation Centre was first mooted around the boardroom table in Bolton Street. The pioneering work taken on by the Dublin Institute of Technology has been truly significant.
However, there comes a time when opportunities for further development have to be undertaken. Members associated with the Dublin Institute of Technology are aware of the difficulties encountered in trying to provide basic library services. Until recently, library services were provided in co-operation with Dublin City Council libraries, both doing a good job. However, it is not possible to provide a high quality service if libraries are dispersed in several locations. Having different admissions offices caused difficulties. The purchase of Mount Street as the headquarters for the Dublin Institute of Technology admissions office was a significant improvement. The Central Applications Office has taken over that development.
I recall when I was chairman of City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee the opening of extensions at Bolton Street, designed by the architect of the tremendous Croke Park stadium, Des McMahon, and Kevin Street. I recall the gestation of the Bishop Street project and how difficult it was to reach construction stage on it. The buildings are now on Aungier Street. I am aware of the difficulties in procuring buildings for the marketing school in Mountjoy Square. The square was transformed because the Dublin Institute of Technology had the courage and stubbornness to stay there. I doubt if the redevelopment of Mountjoy Square would have occurred if the Dublin Institute of Technology, Tom Madden, Paul O’Sullivan and those activists — considered irritating at the time — from the TUI had not been dogged in their pursuit of accommodation for the marketing school.
Significant additional investment is now required to bring some of these buildings to the standard expected in a modern, technological university. Bolton Street is a fine building. It is noteworthy that we speak of Bolton Street and not the college of technology in Bolton Street. The building and the apprentice school however are limited. It is opportune that the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill has been introduced.
The various task forces, Science Foundation Ireland and Forfás have highlighted in their various reports how acutely important is research. In my time, I have presented several thousand certificates in the Dublin Institute of Technology. Each one had to be signed individually. The presentations I got most satisfaction from were those of the apprentices, those who came in from the construction sites after work in the evenings and the catering workers who attended Cathal Brugha St. college after a day’s work to upskill, as Deputy O’Sullivan mentioned.
I urge the Dublin Institute of Technology to remember it is an important and significant educational institution producing high quality qualifications at every level. It has a large contribution to make in apprentice and in-service education for the ordinary workers. Not everybody will be a doctor or hold a masters degree. However, it is important for the Dublin Institute of Technology to maintain contact with those in other employment sectors.
The opportunity must be availed of to use the finances released from the sale of significant sites around Dublin city to develop this project. I hope to live long enough politically to see that project realised. People such as the artist Robert Ballagh saw the possibility of having a real public transport connection to that area because of the proximity of the site to Broadstone Station.
We are all talking about what needs to be done to develop infrastructure in urban and rural areas and we must remember that the Broadstone Station was an important national railway terminal. There is no reason that part of the city could not be opened up again. I hope plans for a metro to Dublin Airport will soon be confirmed and that the line would start somewhere around Broadstone, go out through Glasnevin, Ballymun and on to the airport. There are great opportunities for links to different parts of the city.
Consultation, to which Deputy Gregory referred, is vital. I have experience of how consultation can be interpreted in different ways by the agency that is supposed to do the consulting and by those who are consulted. We have a model of development in Ballymun, Ballymun Regeneration Limited, which is a company whose composition is not unlike what is suggested here. As is proper, it produced a master plan for the area in consultation with the local community. I utter a note of caution to those who will be responsible for consultation. It is not good enough just to consult about the master plan, that is the big picture, the problems will occur in regard to the width of streets, size of footpaths, height of buildings and their finish. They are the irritants that cause great annoyance to local communities.
Other speakers referred to who should be represented on the proposed agency and, although it is unfashionable to say it, I believe local public representatives should be on it. We are selling ourselves short as elected representatives in not demanding representation on agencies like this. Public representatives already successfully represent communities. The board members of Ballymun Regeneration Limited includes community representatives. I see no reason, in addition to community representatives, public representatives of Dublin City Council cannot be bona fide members of this body.
Methods of consultation can vary. I have seen very successful consultations take place, for example, on the port tunnel. Although the consultation got off to a very shaky start, as did the tunnel, the model of consultation has settled down to a great extent.
Access by people not just from disadvantaged areas but those who left school early and by adults will be acutely important in future. I visited UCLA last year or the year before where 80% of students in one of its colleges were mature students. That is the way forward, in addition to doctoral and other high-end research at which DIT excels. Wider participation in education will be important for the future.
I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak on the Bill and to support it. I look forward to the day when I might receive an invitation to be present at the cutting of the ribbon, turning of the sod, laying of the foundation stone or a graduation ceremony.
Mr. Ring: The Ceann Comhairle may wonder why I intend speaking on the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill. The main reason I speak about it is the contributions I heard from my Dublin colleagues and the Minister, whom I congratulate on the first legislation she is steering through the Dáil. It is wonderful that no fight was required for this, although Deputy Carey may disagree with me. We have GMIT in Mayo.
Mr. Ring: That is why I am here. I think I was responsible for getting it because the money was granted for it when I got elected in the hope that I would not get elected the next time. I was also responsible for getting a hospital for the county. If I never did anything else in politics they are two things for which I can take credit, the GMIT and Mayo General Hospital. The Ceann Comhairle knows the hospital as he was down there on many occasions when he had another brief.
I do not have anything against Dublin. I know the ushers are listening because they always say I am critical of Dublin, the city and its people. I am not, but I must say there will be no shortage of money. Nobody will have to lobby or hold protest meetings. People will not have to block up roads to get this project up and running. Because it is in Dublin, it is in Ireland; Dublin is Ireland. Everything is grand and the project will go ahead. All these facilities will be brought under the one roof. A total of 65 acres will be bought from a 73 acre site. It is wonderful and I have no problem with that.
I wish to give a few examples of how things are in Mayo in terms of investment in education. I would prefer if the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin, were in the House but her officials are here and will bring the message to her loud and clear. We spent more than €1 million on a school in Castlebar. The Ceann Comhairle should listen to this. He will find it hard to believe. This would not have gone on in Russia in its worst day. The sum of €1 million was spent on the school and everybody was delighted. The Minister came down and turned the sod. The job was done. Five years later a new roof had to be put on the new school.
I tabled two questions in the House last week on this matter. The Ceann Comhairle nearly ruled one out of order and I had to redraft it but it worked out and I got the information I needed. I was informed that almost €300,000 was paid to consultants on this project by the Department of Education and Science. Deputy Carey should listen to this because it is important. That was taxpayers’ money. It cost almost €1 million to build a school which four to five years later required a brand new roof. The builder was not to blame. The Department of Education and Science was not to blame. The consultant was not to blame. I was informed that the problem was local wind. There is a great deal of wind in this House much of the time.
Mr. Ring: It comes from all sides of the House. That was the best answer I ever got since I came into this House; local wind. What about all the consultants and professional people that were paid? I tabled a further question to discover how many other schools had been affected by the same problem but I could not get an answer, probably because they were embarrassed so many schools had to be re-roofed. I have news for the Department, it had better get ready as I now intend referring the matter to the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. John Purcell. I have been in touch with the Ombudsman on the matter and I intend to seek information under freedom of information legislation.
Mr. Ring: I am trying to save taxpayers a fortune in regard to Grangegorman. I want to tell the people involved in this proposed scheme that somebody will be watching them. We need somebody to watch the Department and whoever will run the agency. We must ensure the Department does not make as bad a job of the third level sector as it did of the first and second level sectors. Taxpayers’ money will be spent and I want to see value for money on this project.
Deputy Carey and I clashed in another forum. He opposed the case I took in the High Court when I stood up for the public and public representatives. I did not win and I wish I had the money to bring the matter as far as the Supreme Court, but I do not. However, I agree with the point he made regarding public representatives on the board of the agency. I see nothing wrong with Deputies or councillors being appointed to any board. I have no problem with the appointment of any publicly elected representative to any State, school or college board. At least the public elected these people and they have to respond to the people. If questions are asked of them they have to be in a position to respond, not like other vested interests one can never get hold of.
We are discussing the amalgamation of the DIT under one roof. In Castlebar, a town I represent as well as other parts of County Mayo, we got a college up and running. It is going very well and many people were educated. Deputy Carey is correct, it is wonderful to see people coming back to the educational sector. Young people drop out for various reasons and then return. It might not be a course that we think is fit or good for us but it is good for them because it gets them back into the system. Many of these people do very well when they come out of the institute. The problem in Mayo is that some courses will be taken away. Will the Minister of State, Deputy Tim O’Malley, notify the Minister, Deputy Hanafin, that we are looking for funding for the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology campus in Castlebar? I also seek a commitment from the Minister and the Government that money be spent on research to ensure that more courses are created at the institute. Many people fought hard to get that college. Paddy McGuinness and I, and other elected representatives and members of the public worked hard to get it up and running.
The Dublin Institute of Technology property is all State property. While I note some is being bought from the health authority, it is all taxpayers’ money, whether we like it or not. Some of the land in and around the city of Dublin on which the buildings that are sold are situated should be made available for housing developments which should include facilities for young people. The greatest mistake we made in this State was not to put in place facilities for young people.
I hope the campus in Grangegorman succeeds because I am not a begrudger. That said, I like to see Mayo and the west getting their fair share of the national cake. I do not like to see everything going to Dublin although it deserves its fair share too because it has many disadvantaged which need employment and amenities. The Minister and the officials in the Department should, when building a new school or college, ensure the facilities are made available in off-peak times, such as weekends or summer months, when schools do not use the premises. That applies to all colleges and institutes as well. We should encourage and help young people so as to educate them. We made mistakes in the past by building thousands of houses without providing facilities. Now we wonder why crime is rife. One can visit my county or any housing estate in the city and see what is happening.
I hope that when plans are drawn up for the construction of this facility, the Department and whoever has responsibility when the agency is set up works with the local community to ensure it is not told what is happening as planning permission is being sought, something that often happens. Before such permission is sought, those involved in the agency should consult the local community and listen to its ideas and suggestions. Taxpayers pay for these facilities and should have an input. It is wrong that they are told something is happening and must put up with it. Ministers should work with local communities.
I do not know much about Grangegorman but I am sure it needs many facilities and I hope that whatever is needed is put in place. There is no point building a facility such as this if no student accommodation is to be available at a reasonable price for those who use it. Over the years people have had to come to Dublin from throughout the country to be educated because the colleges of their choice, or the one for which they were selected or had the points, are located in the city. Parents spend weeks trying to find accommodation at a reasonable price and in a safe place. This issue should be discussed beforehand and accommodation put in place. This proposal should be discussed with the local community because I have seen in Cork and elsewhere that student accommodation can be rented out for the summer months, for example, on the weekends of All-Ireland matches. When this agency is put in place under the provisions of the Bill, it could manage the accommodation as well as the facilities. I hope that will happen because it is important to have good facilities for young people.
I wish Grangegorman the best of luck and will watch it very carefully. It will not have the difficulties we had in Mayo which were such that we fought Ministers and Government and had to bring people onto the streets and make it a major political issue. The Castlebar campus is up and running and I hope it will not be interfered with by stealth by the removal of some courses. I will fight that. We fought hard for it and all we need are some resources from the State. The Minister and her officials should ensure that facility is left there. It has done great work and certainly has educated people who may not have had a chance before but have returned to education.
A man came to my clinic approximately a fortnight ago, following which I tabled some parliamentary questions with the result that FÁS will examine the issue. The man is a thatcher who came in from England. He does not have enough hours in the day to do the work that is needed. Thatchers are being brought in from all over Europe to work here. As far as he is aware, he is the only one in the west. He said he would do it for the State at a reasonable cost. He is not looking for a job because he has too much work to do but said he would make his expertise available to the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in Castlebar or Galway or to the Dublin Institute of Technology. He is willing to train young people because he has no family and cannot pass on his skill. Would it not be better to train our people to give them jobs and for the trade to be passed on to another generation? We will lose it unless we do something about it.
Deputy Carey spoke about the baking industry and he is right. One can go to any city in continental Europe and see small bakeries and shops. There were once many bakeries in this country but multi-national stores and supermarkets took over and we lost many young people from that trade. That area is an opening for young people. I spoke to someone recently who is thinking about taking this up as a profession but he is having difficulty finding a place where he can get an apprenticeship. He wants to set up a bakery in a town because bread is not baked every day. I wrote to the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology to inquire would there be any hope of setting up courses for that in Castlebar. There must be many people with business ideas who want to be educated and do something about it.
It is good to have doctors and nurses and consultants but it is important to have apprenticeships as well and to cater for people such as this man. I was glad to hear Deputy Carey say that his most joyful day was signing certificates for an apprenticeship. It is important because although all parents want their sons and daughters to be doctors or consultants, we also need people to bake and thatch. I advise them not to be politicians if they can avoid it because it is not a simple job and nothing in politics is easy any more. Many ideas can be used.
The Castlebar campus of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology should be preserved. We fought hard for it. With some commitment from the Department of Education and Science and from those running the institute, it will work. I do not want to see courses removed and staff withdrawn to the Galway campus to the point that there is a crisis and we cannot enrol sufficient numbers to fill the courses. We will not get enough people if we do not run the courses for them. It is important that we get money to do research and provide further courses, whether by day or night, to give people the chance of an education.
The Bill will be passed because the agency is based in Dublin and our Taoiseach and many of the Ministers are from the city. There will be no shortage of money. It will be found for Dublin. When the Dublin Institute of Technology property in and around Dublin is sold, some of that money should go to the west. We do not want to see all of it spent in Dublin.
Mr. Andrews: I wish to share time with Deputy Fitzpatrick. Would Deputy Ring give support if the Taoiseach was from Mayo? I might be stretching credibility by suggesting that. The Deputy might be putting himself under pressure if he said that. I admire the manner in which he spoke about his constituency and for the number of times he managed to mention GMIT during the course of his contribution.
The Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004 came before our education committee in the past couple of months. The staff in DIT very kindly brought the committee out to see the site at Grangegorman. They gave us a presentation on it, explained what their ambitions were and what the difficulties were. One of the major difficulties they were having was that this particular legislation needed to be passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas before they could proceed. They are very pleased that this is now in process and the Bill will become law as soon as possible and allow the agencies to be set up so that this exciting development can proceed further.
I have personal experience of DIT as I lectured there in labour law in Cathal Brugha Street some years ago. One of the problems with DIT is the outlying nature of the buildings. I was giving lectures in Cathal Brugha Street and running down the road to Sackville Place where there were other rooms. This was something that was repeated by staff in DIT for years. The rationalisation of buildings into one single development makes great sense. More important than that, we have to justify the enormous investment in education by the State by showing how it will benefit the wider community.
There have been similar investments in inner city areas in recent times. One of them was the digital hub area. An agency was set up to try to encourage development in the local area, to bring people in as stakeholders and to make sure that there was a trickle down effect of the wealth and the investment in the digital hub for people in the area. The digital hub development agency recently set up the liberty time capsule where they symbolically buried a time capsule for 50 years time and it was the ambition that in that time, everyone living in that area would have benefited from the investment that the Government has put into it.
The Diageo Liberties learning initiative and other initiatives have brought great hope and confidence to the area. It is an acknowledged fact that the local residents are enjoying using digital technology in school and community settings. This is a template for largescale Government funding into inner-city areas. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority was established in 1997. One of its specific functions as an authority was to ensure sustainable economic and social regeneration of that area. The ambition is to develop the Dublin docklands into a world class city quarter, one in which the whole community enjoys the highest standards of access to education, employment, housing and social amenities, and which delivers a major contribution to the social and economic prosperity of Dublin and the whole of Ireland. Some progress has been made in that area. This year, 116 students received bursaries to allow them access to third level. By 2006, pursuant to the Planning Act 2000, over 200 social and affordable houses will have been built in that area under the auspices of the authority.
As far as I am concerned, more could have been done in both cases. I hope the area contiguous with Grangegorman will benefit from the investment the Government makes. Nonetheless, a large amount of this development will be self-financing. DIT is in possession of a considerable amount of buildings and land which it indicates it will be able to sell off. It has access to funding of its own and it will also borrow under the terms of this Bill. The Government investment is not as great as the benefit to the community. The business incubation models that exist in most universities are reciprocated in DIT as well. This is another return for the State. There is no question but that the State will benefit in this sense.
It is important to look at the breakdown of the Bill itself. It contains some interesting developments that are not dissimilar to the Dublin Docklands Authority and the digital hub development agency. Section 11 of the Bill states that there must be a strategic plan for the development of recreational facilities. Some Deputies are concerned about making sure that the campus is sustainable and that it provides balance in the services it makes available to the students and local population. Unusually, it requires that the agency consult with local public representatives, such as Deputies and councillors. That is something I have never seen in a Bill before. Section 14 deals with the crucial borrowing requirement. Section 20 sets up a stakeholders’ group. In the legislation for creating a digital hub, one member of the local community is nominated to the digital hub agency. In this Bill, the local community is part of this stakeholders’ group, a consultation group which ensures that they will definitely have an input into the way in which the development carries on.
The important thing for DIT is to ensure that in the development process over the next few years, local residents are brought into the project. The elements of the Bill that refer to local representatives and local residents are fully enacted and fully carried out. It is important that they never take their eye off the goal that this Government invests large amounts of money in inner-city areas for the good of the whole country and for Dublin. It is not just a case of investing for the benefit of DIT. From my meetings with members of staff of DIT and from their own presentations to the education committee, it is absolutely clear that they have that target in mind. They propose to keep the interests of the people of the area very much to the forefront. There is no doubt that the local economy will benefit and I am sure Deputy Fitzpatrick will give more detail about that. Naturally, the secondary students that are trying to get into third level will have to be brought in to this. There must be ways of ensuring that the lack of equity of access to third level is addressed in this area for the benefit of everyone, as has happened in Tallaght. The benefit must also be for the area, as has happened in the digital hub and the financial services area.
Dr. Fitzpatrick: I welcome this Bill. It is a pity Deputy Ring is not here as he was speaking about the roof in Castlebar. DIT may be able to provide the research facilities as it has a building trade school that would obviate the loss of a roof after five years. I agree with him; I doubt the wind in Castlebar is any more dangerous than any other part of the country.
St. Brendan’s Hospital in Grangegorman is the oldest public psychiatric hospital in the country. As a result of the movement towards community care, it was given renewed emphasis in the Department of Health and Children’s publication, Planning for the Future, in 1984. The Ceann Comhairle will remember that. The hospital, which had over 2,000 patients in the 1930s, now has less than 400. The original buildings which opened in 1815 as the Richmond Lunatic Asylum are now derelict and empty, although some offices are still in use. The main fabric of the buildings is still in sound structural condition.
It is fortunate that I can consider the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004 from a medical perspective. I was once a member of the former Eastern Health Board, which has long since been replaced. When a senior officer of the health board proposed that the Richmond Lunatic Asylum buildings be entered into a competition for the Europa Nostra award, a lowly member of the health board pointed out that the asylum’s beautiful old wooden windows, which dated back to the 18th century, had been replaced by aluminium windows. We were immediately precluded from entering any kind of competition, in Europe or elsewhere.
The history of the Grangegorman institution relates to more than one hospital. In its early days, it was the only public lunatic asylum in the country. I am using the language that was used in days gone by to describe such institutions, which was a reflection of how such matters were viewed. The Irish word for “asylum” is “faoiseamh”, which highlights that such institutions were founded to allow people to withdraw from the stresses and strains of life, to receive some care and to be helped back to good health. Physicians and governors laid down the ground rules for the district lunatic asylum system, which, for all its defects, provided a haven for the mentally ill and the handicapped when no other such system existed. The spirit that animated the first governors of the asylum remained with the various committees which administered the institution over the years.
One needs only to read reports of some of the public inquiries into the asylum to appreciate that there were administrative failures over the years. From time to time, the staff of the asylum failed in their duty of care to the people in their care. The governors were concerned not only with managing the hospital, but also with seeking a general improvement in care and social attitudes towards the mentally disordered. The hospital’s physicians were foremost in advancing the boundaries of psychiatric care from its earliest days.
Before the establishment of the Richmond Lunatic Asylum in 1815, there was no place of care for the mentally ill in Ireland. I assure Deputy Ring that some of the original 1815 roofs are still in place. They must be in good order because they can still keep out the rain. General hospital care was non-existent before the asylum was established. Leper houses and other charitable institutions which had been established in the Middle Ages were closed when the monasteries were dissolved and not much was provided in their place. The mentally ill fared badly because they got into trouble for their bizarre manners and often violent outbursts. They were often left to languish in prisons and alms houses, sometimes half starved and naked.
I know the site well, as a former member of the board of the hospital. I studied there, just as the Ceann Comhairle did. It is an historic area. I am keen that the buildings and historical ambience of the area be preserved in any future development of the site, which is bounded by Prussia Street and Stoneybatter, which is known in Irish as Bóthar na gCloch. The locality is where Irish was last spoken as the daily language of the people of Dublin. The site is also bounded by Brunswick Street, Constitution Hill, North Circular Road and the old Broadstone railway station, which Deputy Carey argued earlier should be used again. If the Luas line is brought to the airport, it should be brought through Broadstone because the road on which the track was once laid is still in place as far as Cabra and the edge of Finglas.
I do not doubt that the transfer of the Dublin Institute of Technology to the St. Brendan’s campus will facilitate major social, educational and health benefits in the Grangegorman area. One should not forget that nine acres of the site, which was first occupied by a health facility in 1815, will be retained for future use as the location of a health facility. There is a serious need for step-down facilities, neurology facilities and psychiatric facilities in the area. The development plan for this important site should be drawn up in full consultation with the surrounding communities. The area is home to many institutions which were located there without reference over the years to the needs of local people or consultation with the local community.
The Minister said the Bill provides for the appointment of 11 members of the development agency, including the chairman. The Minister for Health and Children will nominate two members, one of whom will come from the Eastern Regional Health Authority, the Northern Area Health Board or their successors. One member will be nominated by each of the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Dublin city manager and the rest will be nominated by the Minister for Education and Science. It is not specified that a member of the agency should be a publicly elected representative. I ask the Minister to consider providing in the Bill that two members of the authority should be elected members of Dublin City Council. It is vitally important that Dublin’s citizens should be represented on the agency by public representatives who are directly answerable to them. Previous speakers called for local consultation and local committees to be represented on the agency. Consultation with local people should be as detailed as possible. Many years’ experience has taught me that locally elected public representatives provide greater continuity of input. They are accountable to their electors because they have to come back to them.
I welcome DIT to the site, but it faces formidable problems in refurbishing buildings so that they become modern facilities without destroying the fabric of the buildings and the site. I am sure the institute can overcome such problems with the help of those involved in its schools of architecture, engineering and building trades. If they are not up to the task, nobody else will be.
While we are upwardly mobile in the educational sense, I echo Deputy Carey’s comment that we should not forget those who really matter — people involved in trades. It is important that we should have doctors, consultants and masters, but nothing gets done without the continuing education of people on the ground. I welcome the Bill and recommend it to the House.
Dr. Cowley: I welcome the Bill, which is really excellent. One often encounters important legislation when one comes to the House, but this is an example of a Bill which has so much going for it because it has got it together to a major extent. It can be seen as a blueprint for our work in many areas. It addresses circumstances which need to be addressed in a rational manner. It is interesting that various services which are being offered at present will be brought together at a single location. The proposal offers great potential not only for the future of the people of the area, but also for the people of the nation. The public appreciates the tremendous potential of this project, which involves the development of approximately 70 acres of land within walking distance of the centre of our capital city. We are taking the major opportunity which is being offered to us. If the project develops as planned, it will greatly help to make life much better for many people and benefit our country significantly.
This development is being planned for many reasons, including the current scattered nature of DIT. It is most interesting that the site of St. Brendan’s Hospital in Grangegorman has been chosen as the location of the new campus. I am involved in the St. Brendan’s village project in Mulranny, County Mayo. The Grangegorman site would be an ideal location for a project similar to the Mulranny village, which involves bringing a sense of community back to the people. The village allows people to stay in their home areas, regardless of how old or disabled they are. It is interesting that the Grangegorman project is being pursued by the Eastern Regional Health Authority, as well as DIT. There is a great opportunity. With Grangegorman and St. Brendan’s, the system is institutional. It is the medical system for supporting older people that is inappropriate and out of date. There should be something else, but the problem is that there have not been such things. However, in Grangegorman there is an opportunity to have something like what we have in Mulranny, where there is support for people at home or at the day centre, and low, medium and high support sheltered housing so that no matter how old or disabled someone is, he or she can remain in the local area. That is very important for people.
In Dublin, where there is a large population, people say that there are older people everywhere and that our population is ageing. We are now catching up with the rest of Europe in the age of our population and must consider such matters. First and foremost, there is a great opportunity for a St. Brendan’s village in this location. That wonderful opportunity should not be missed. We must also be inclusive and not simply think about those who have nothing. Most people have a little, but older people need some supported or sheltered housing since they may not qualify for social housing as such, nor should they when they have enough equity to help support themselves. They would be proud and happy to do so if there were the opportunity. This site offers a wonderful chance to do just that and should not be overlooked in any way.
My background is that of a general practitioner who lived in urban areas and moved to a rural one in 1981, when I began to see that the most important thing for people was services. If people had services in their area, that kept them there. If one loses the services in an area, one will not stay there. Most of all I noticed that older people were leaving our area because there was nothing for them. Some could live alone in the community in their own house in the country with the support of neighbours, friends and family, but the latter group got older themselves. Neither had emigrated and when those people could no longer live in the community, having lost the support that would have allowed them to do so, they went to a far-away place where they knew no one. Just like the old Indians, they lost heart and died.
I call older people in institutions the sad side of migration. Our St. Brendan’s Village is about supporting those older people when they are at home, which is best for as long as possible, followed by low support sheltered housing. That way, when they can no longer live in the community by themselves, instead of going to a far-away institution where they know no one, they can stay in their own area in a supportive environment with care provided. When they get a little frailer, they can move sideways. They have no fear of the future if they can move to a medium or higher support unit.
There is great opportunity for people to do that. It is very much an alternative to the profit-driven, non-community nursing homes which are currently so important because there is nothing else. However, there should be an alternative in the shape of the same type of village as St. Brendan’s. I suggest that it be in Grangegorman with other important things such as the DIT. What is more appropriate than having everyone together? Institutes of technology have been of great importance to this country and have played a large role in getting us where we are today. Such bodies as Science Foundation Ireland support the kind of research that institutes of technology and universities conduct, and they are extremely important. We should never lose sight of that. Sometimes, when our budgets are small — they are always finite — it is important that we maintain as a priority such important centres of learning and research. I can envisage Grangegorman as the most wonderful facility. It is logical, when one considers how spread out the DIT is, that it all be brought together in one centre; that makes great sense.
I have a personal interest in the DIT in Bolton Street because my son is attending it studying civil engineering. That is my vested interest in the matter. However, I have personal experience of the wonderful facilities, in particular it is so inclusive of all strata of society. There are people from rural Ireland and inner city Dublin. We know that the north inner city area has the lowest uptake of education. It is wonderful that the campus will be there in consolidated form to help people who might otherwise not have access to education.
The institute of technology has something that we have underestimated. Before one goes to university, one has a sheltered background where one enjoys the support of one’s parents and so on, but then one goes to a university city or town where one does not have the same supports as at home. The institute of technology takes a more hands-on approach, and it is very appropriate for younger people who have just left home. They appreciate that support.
I am greatly supportive of the DIT and what has been done at Grangegorman; it is the way forward. Sometimes I come here from the west and talk about my area of Mayo. Equally, I recognise, as would my GP colleagues in rural Ireland — the Ceann Comhairle will know all about it — that in inner city areas too there is a need for services. People must have a service available, whether it be the GP, the post office or whatever. From the start, I saw that the most important thing in rural areas was the maintenance of services.
There is the notion of rural-proofing legislation to ensure that any change does not injure a rural area but instead supports it. The same is true for inner city areas. They are two ends of the spectrum of neglect, showing where resources should have gone but did not. I greatly welcome the work that has been done. My colleague, Deputy Gregory, was instrumental in causing a great many good things to happen for inner city areas. That was when he held the balance of power and negotiated the Gregory deal with the Taoiseach, which meant a great deal for inner city areas. However, we should not have to depend on such deals. The same goes for rural areas. If I held the balance of power, I would be pushing for rural areas to be developed. We need such things as post offices — in Achill one recently closed. Such things are simply not acceptable since there must be some kind of public service obligation.
At one time I stayed in a strange place in Dublin 1 with my wife. We took our little dog with us, which had the role of our first child before we had children. The dog ate poison under the bed. It was nearly dead and we had to go around Dublin with it looking for a vet. Eventually, we found one. The position is the same if one has an ill child and is trying to find a doctor or any other service. We need services in every area and we should be thankful that good medical services are available. The primary care system is probably the only one that is working properly in this country. A same-day service is available to people whether they have money, and that is the bottom line. People on the minimum wage or just above it who deserve to have a medical card have difficulty accessing services because of eligibility problems.
The Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004 is very welcome. It is interesting that this development will be called St. Brendan’s Campus since it shares a name with our St. Brendan’s Village. There is mention of going from an institutional to a more appropriate community setting. That is exactly what St. Brendan’s Village in Mulranny is about — the community doing something rather than the private sector doing it. I have nothing against the private sector since as long as there is a deficit and it can come in and do something, it will certainly do so, and fair play to it. However, there should be a community-driven alternative.
I am of the community. People say to me that I lean towards this party or that, but that is not true. I am independent and represent the community. That is my bottom line since I see it as the way forward, though it is very much the poor relation in all this. There is the State and the private sector, but in the middle comes the community, which has great potential. With Grangegorman, it is very important that there is more community input in the board.
It is important to have a proper community input into this board. It is a very important agency and I welcome its establishment. The campus should also reflect the community, young people as well as old. The campus will be a centre of learning and research, which the DIT is, and it will be the most valuable and wonderful one, the biggest in the State. It will be important to have proper accommodation for students. There is nothing more wonderful than to see young and old mixed together in an inclusive society. So much has happened to drive people away from rural areas, which had great values. I am not talking in any right wing sense, but about the fact that there was always room for Granny, for the caileach, in the corner, the warmest place in the house, beside the fire. Granny was there in her bed by the fire, where she was safe and warm. People then became sucked into the urban areas, and where was there room for Granny in the flat in Ballymun? Thank God the Ballymun towers have been pulled down because there was no room for Granny there.
Perhaps there is a move back towards community life, which is so necessary and important. This Bill gives an inkling that some sense is being put into planning in Ireland again, with a return to a community focus. This Bill is about going from an acute situation, as it notes, to rehabilitation with regard to the care and support of people. Support is more important than care because care is a sub-set of support. There is an opportunity here for a type of facility which would offer a day centre with low-support housing to allow people to stay in a sheltered environment. That can be done quite easily and would reduce the numbers of people who need to stay in profit-driven non-community nursing homes. There is nothing wrong with such homes, which do a wonderful job and I admire the people who run them. They are not adequately supported and they must make a profit. However, community homes can put the money back into the service to improve it.
We should think more about community. There is a great opportunity here. Why not get the community involved in running this enterprise? That would work out well. Why must we always think of bringing in the private sector to make a profit? If someone is making a profit, something has to suffer. Resources are finite. I am not against private enterprise or profit as people must make profit to live, but we now have this opportunity for the community to have its say.
There are some wonderful opportunities before us in this Bill. The Bill uses the words “elderly” and “dementia”. That is wonderful. When I started working in St. Brendan’s Hospital in Mulrany, people said that it was not possible to support people with dementia in their own communities and that they would have to enter institutions. That is not true. Over time I have discovered that one can look after older people in their own community. The worst thing one can do with people suffering from dementia is to send them somewhere where they know nobody, where every face is that of a stranger. Those with dementia need to hold on to whatever fix they have on reality. The sally rod does not bend when it ages. An older person sent to hospital becomes very confused. It is important that older people can stay in their own community and get supports there. Why should they need to leave their communities if the supports are there for them? It is the most natural thing in the world for them to remain.
The RTC in Castlebar is important. We have had major worries in the area lately because of a proposal to cut the courses adopted by the executive board. This is currently supposed to be happening in Mayo. The RTC in Castlebar was set up by the Government with great reluctance, in the face of massive public support from the people of Mayo. The people there are very proud of the RTC because they see it as infrastructure. It is all about services, which are just as important in Dublin as they are in Mayo, as important in Grangegorman as they are in Mulrany, as important near Dublin city as in Castlebar or anywhere else.
This is all about allowing people the opportunity to stay in their own area. One might live in an area where one discovers the doctor is about to leave, and one will not get treatment for illness. The chemist shop might close down, or perhaps one does not even exist in the area so that one cannot buy medicine. One might find a doctor but have to travel another 20 miles for medicine. That is no good. People will not stay in such an area, where they cannot even post a letter or send children to school, where there is no help from marauding criminals because there are no gardaí there. That is the vicious circle of rural depopulation and loss of services. The same vicious circle exists in inner-city Dublin, driving people out of the city centre. The city then loses its heart, and people go to the suburbs — maybe not the leafy suburbs, but somewhere else.
The DIT in Dublin is the biggest educational facility in Ireland. The RTC in Castlebar has meant a great deal to us in terms of infrastructure. It has drawn industry to the area. There is research going on there. There is a school of nursing, and so on. All these elements would not be there without the RTC. Science Foundation Ireland also carries out research. People were forgetting about these aspects.
I am anxious that the Government continues to support the GMIT in Castlebar. I am very impressed with the DIT in Dublin. It is logical that it would be centralised. I know decentralisation of the health service is under way but in the case of the DIT the centralisation is justified. There will be economies of scale when all the campuses are brought together. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a St. Brendan’s village in Dublin, and a number of them. There is a great opportunity in Grangegorman.
Ms M. Wallace: The Grangegorman Development Agency Bill is a very important step in bringing to reality the wonderful decision taken by the Government in December 1999 that the Department of Education and Science would purchase 55 acres of the 73-acre Grangegorman site from the Eastern Regional Health Authority to provide a new campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology.
This is a very positive Bill, providing an exciting future for the DIT, for third level education and for all of the students of the future who will benefit greatly from the wonderful new education facility that will be the result of the work of the agencies to be established under the legislation.
The Second Schedule lists 22 different locations in the city of Dublin regarding properties of the Dublin Institute of Technology. There is a total of 39 buildings on 30 sites currently providing third level education through the DIT. The final outcome of the legislation will be to see the 22,000 students and staff from these 39 different buildings moving to a new facility on a single campus at an excellent location on the north side of the city.
I felt it was important I should contribute to this debate on behalf of the very many students from south County Meath and their families who are participating in third level education courses throughout the present 39 buildings, and on behalf of the County Meath students of the future who will be among the beneficiaries of the legislation. There is no doubt that the change to a single campus will provide a whole new centre of excellence to build on the wonderful educational tradition of the Dublin Institute of Technology and its predecessors under the City of Dublin VEC in their 123-year history in the provision of third level education.
In the past ten years, the institute has experienced record numbers of applications for places. Despite the space restrictions imposed on it, the institute has continued to educate graduates to a unique level of expertise, which has great importance for industry and provides benefits in terms of the ongoing growth of the economy, with special emphasis on science and technology and hotel and catering. With far more efficient use of space provided by this unique opportunity to design a new campus on the Grangegorman site, huge benefits lie ahead for students in terms of the optimisation of resources in areas such as the co-ordination of research and the sharing of facilities and equipment across multidisciplinary teams. With the development of the new single campus, the provision for growth and new opportunities and increased student numbers are obvious.
The changes to which I refer will be of major benefit to those involved in education. The development of Grangegorman will be wonderful for the local community and for the students of the future. A move away from the current situation, with the DIT’s operations spread across scattered buildings, with their inherent lack of space and suitable infrastructure — I refer to the seven administrative offices, seven examination halls, seven libraries and ten canteens — will provide obvious benefits in operational effectiveness and savings in terms of administration, inter-communications and support services for future students.
Establishing the agency is the first important step that will follow the passage of the legislation. The agency will be the sole authority for the development of the site at Grangegorman. It will also be responsible for the generation of income for that development. Included in this will be the sale or development of existing campuses, many of which are valuable premises within walking distance of the city centre. As Deputy Carey and others stated, there is no doubt that many of these premises are historic in nature and are situated on key city centre sites. Their sale and redevelopment will transform large sections of Dublin’s city centre.
DIT properties will be signed over to the agency as they become available. The agency will then dispose of them and the income generated will be used, together with other resources, to fund the project at Grangegorman. The Department estimates that the value of the property to be disposed of and savings on rental costs will generate €250 million and probably a great deal more. This money will help to offset the capital costs of locating on the new campus. It is interesting to consider the current cost of rental, which alone amounts to over €4.15 million per annum. Economies will obviously be made through savings on rental costs and these will be added to day-to-day operational savings and efficiencies.
It is important to welcome the fact that approximately eight acres of the site at Grangegorman are intended for the development of health care facilities. I welcome, in particular, the proposals to provide residential and day care for people with intellectual disabilities, young people with physical disabilities and elderly people who suffer dementia. Deputy Fitzpatrick outlined the history of St. Brendan’s which is the oldest public psychiatric hospital in the country. At one stage it had 2,000 clients but now it only has in the region of 400. The refocusing of the St. Brendan’s campus, including the move from institutional to community settings, will provide a more appropriate environment for people availing of the services. This is a welcome development.
On-site co-operation between health and education providers will obviously be important for both. However, it will also provide major benefits for students and service users. I would like every effort to be made to explore avenues of co-operation which could provide long-term benefits for clients, students and future professionals who will be located on the site.
On behalf of the many County Meath students who attend DIT colleges and their families, I wish to state that the legislation is welcome because it provides the first important step in this process of establishing the agency that will carry out the planning and development of the new 65-acre campus on which DIT students of the future will be educated. I wish the agency well in its work. I hope it will be able to carry out its job efficiently and effectively in order that the new campus will be available to students at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Costello: I welcome the legislation for a number of reasons. I must declare a vested interest in that I live in the area in Aughrim Street which is situated 100 yards or so away from the Grangegorman site. It is a traditional area and includes Stoneybatter and Oxmantown. History has it that, because they were forbidden to cross the city, the Vikings settled there after the Battle of Clontarf. Indeed, the area is very much associated with history and folk memory. Whatever about the vandalism that happened during the period to which I refer, the general area is about to enter a more cultural and educational era.
The second vested interest I must declare is that I have been involved with the City of Dublin VEC for many years. Like the Minister for Education and Science, I served as chair of the Cathal Brugha Street committee prior to the DIT’s establishment in its current form. I was also a member of the Bolton Street committee and I subsequently served as chairman of the VEC after the legislation was introduced in 1990 or 1991 to divorce CDVEC from the new independent DIT. I have, therefore, a particular interest in the Bill, especially as I am aware of the needs of the DIT. The entire space, in terms of buildings, belonging to the institute covers approximately ten acres. The DIT is constrained in terms of what it can do with the space at its disposal. It is incredible that the institute’s 39 buildings are squeezed on to 30 sites. It is amazing that the institute itself has operated so successfully in academic and educational terms over the years, particularly when one considers the enormous constraints placed upon it in a physical sense, with its buildings scattered across the north and south of the city.
Everyone would welcome the opportunity for the DIT to consolidate its operations on a single campus and bring its faculties together. The new structure will bring the institute into the future in a coherent fashion and it will rid it of the fragmentation that exists at present. At present, the DIT pays over €4 million annually in rental costs because a number of the buildings in which it operates do not belong to it. I do not see, for example, Mountjoy Square included on the list so I presume it and other buildings cannot be disposed of.
It makes sense from every point of view for us to take the route outlined in the Bill. The proposals were initially made a short time after the establishment of the DIT on a statutory basis. The principals of the colleges at the time were anxious to provide a structure whereby student accommodation could be provided. The lack of a proper campus has bedevilled both the DIT and, before it, the VEC because student accommodation could not be provided in the city. This is despite the fact that it is the largest third level institution in the country. Now, however, all the faculties will be brought together in one location. These discussions went on throughout the 1990s and did not happen today or yesterday. The legislation was passed in 1991 and it was the DIT’s objective since then to establish a unified campus for all its faculties. Collins Barracks was selected at one stage but it was turned into an excellent museum instead. The Grangegorman site was then promised to the DIT by the then Labour-Fianna Fáil Government. The proposal has been at least ten years in gestation and it was only in recent times that it was formally implemented.
On the eve of the general election in 2002, I was delighted to read a circular distributed by the Taoiseach to all the houses in the Oxmanstown-Grangegorman-Stoneybatter area in which he informed householders that the DIT was on the way and that the first footprint of the building would be in place by the end of 2002. That did not happen, but I was equally delighted to espy a similar circular, which had been distributed in the constituency on the eve of the local elections this year, informing us that the DIT legislation would be passed soon and the project would be up and running quickly. We are nearly there and I am delighted the legislation is being debated.
I refer to the functions of the site. It is intended the site will be shared between the DIT and the Department of Health and Children, with the DIT getting 90% of the site and the Department getting approximately 10% for the provision of residential facilities. I tabled a number of parliamentary questions regarding the use of the site and I was informed that Educate Together, Dublin 7, would also be given a two or three acre site on the campus. Currently, the school does not have a permanent site. I would like the legislation to reflect this so that a primary level facility can be provided on the campus, as intended. Most public representatives in the area campaigned for such a facility and the Departments of Health and Children and Education and Science were contacted regarding the matter. In addition, parliamentary questions were tabled in this regard and I am surprised the legislation does not contain a commitment to an educational facility other than the DIT. I do not take away from the institute but it must be ensured a site is made available for Educate Together.
Discussions also took place with Dublin City Council, which sought a portion of the site for social housing. The general tenor of the discussions was that housing would be provided for senior citizens. It should not be forgotten that is the final large site available in the north inner city. Half of the site, approximately 35 acres, comprises playing fields and other recreational facilities, which, presumably, will not be encroached upon, although we do not know what will happen in this regard.
The final function of the site was to provide facilities for the local community. Throughout the process DIT representatives were excellent in engaging with the local community. They attended all the meetings that were organised with local people and they explained their intentions. They also put it on public record that they would seek to ensure the local community would have unlimited access to the lands and facilities provided in a generous and open fashion and that the facilities would be regarded as community-based.
None of these functions is reflected in the legislation and I am concerned about this. I would like the Minister to accept an amendment to ensure these functions are fulfilled. Given that the debate is under way, all the groups to whom I referred will contact the Department of Education and Science, the DIT and the health board and public representatives to ensure each gets its piece of the cake, as expected following the discussions.
Essentially the purpose of the site is to provide a home for the DIT and it will do so effectively because it is extremely important that the future of the DIT is assured. I have stated repeatedly that I would like another faculty added to the existing six DIT faculties. A police academy should be established on the site on the grounds that the Templemore training college is isolated in terms of the changes that have taken place in society and there is pressure on space. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform stated he would extend the current building in Templemore to provide the training facilities that are needed. While the Templemore facility should not be discarded entirely, new Garda recruits who otherwise will spend their time in a new, somewhat isolated extension in County Tipperary should have an opportunity to undergo some, if not all, of their training in an urban setting, in which 60% of the population resides. They are likely to spend most of their time on the beat where perhaps most of all they would have an opportunity of meeting their peers and receiving a broader education in that context. This would be a wonderful opportunity to add a further faculty to the DIT. It would allow for a police academy to be established there and for in-service courses to be provided. The Minister would be spared his proposed expansion in Templemore which is probably no longer the most suitable location for all Garda training. I ask the Minister to consider this proposal.
Section 16 of the Bill proposes 11 members. It is obvious that a particular mechanism is being used. The Minister for Health and Children will nominate two members, the president of the Dublin Institute of Technology will nominate one member, and one member will be nominated by the city manager of Dublin City Council rather than by the members of Dublin City Council. It does not seem to me to be the most democratic and comprehensive list of members.
The Minister should not depart very far from existing structures. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority has responsibility for the development of the docklands. It has both public and community representatives and other sectional interests. Its purpose is to ensure comprehensive, integrated development. Integrated area action plans exist across the city. One plan covers the north-east inner city east of O’Connell Street while O’Connell Street has a plan to itself and another plan covers the markets area. The idea behind these plans is to promote integrated development. The membership should reflect the local authority and community and other appropriate Government agencies. There should not be a departure from a model which involves both public and community representatives. The legislation would be more beneficial if it copied the model of agencies which are already in existence. The Minister may reply by saying that public and community representatives may be included in the 11 members but I do not think that is the intention. No entitlement exists and I suggest it should be stipulated in the legislation. I have no doubt the Minister will be given grief if community representation is not included in the legislation. It is a highly organised community with residents’ associations, the markets area representative organisation, the north-west inner city group, An Síol and so on. Those groups are well organised and will look to ensure substantial gain for the community from this development as well as the professional educational and health services which will be provided.
Section 20 mentions those with a consultative role such as the stakeholders and the local residents and public representatives. A bevy of people will have a consultative role, including no more than two members from each of the stakeholders appointed. This relegates public and community representatives to a second tier level of consultation and participation. If this was not the case in the docklands, I do not see why it should happen in the case of this agency. It would be better if a full-blooded agency or authority were established.
I would like to see the changes I have recommended included in the legislation. I want to see full local participation in both the recreational and educational facilities. The DIT has done excellent work in this area by providing, in association with Hewlett Packard, computer facilities in a number of flat complexes. The institute is well embedded in the community and in a good position to build on that base. I want to see an integrated transport network developed using Broadstone Station and the line linking it with the Liffey valley which could be linked up to Maynooth and to the airport if it is done properly. An integrated system would be wonderful. I look forward to the enactment of this Bill. I hope to table amendments to deal with those suggestions.
Ms Burton: I warmly welcome the Government’s presentation of this Bill. I will first declare an interest. I am a former member of staff of the DIT and I was a member of a special strategy group established by the then president of the DIT, Dr. Goldsmith, to progress this proposal. The group was chaired by a former Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science, Mr. Noel Lindsay, who has given great service by helping to develop this project to its current stage. I am also pleased to acknowledge the presence in the Visitors Gallery of a number of distinguished members of the staff of the DIT, including the president of the DIT, Dr. Norton, and to welcome them. I know how important this project is to the thousands of staff who work in the DIT and who have been associated with the institute down the years. It is especially important to the many thousands of students whom the DIT has served during its history as the DIT and earlier when it was part of the City of Dublin VEC. This history goes back to the last years of the 19th century.
This development has received a genuine, all-party welcome because it is an ideal which has been developed and progressed over many years. The DIT is Ireland’s largest third level institution spread over a large number of locations throughout the city of Dublin. While that may have been satisfactory 20 years ago, it no longer meets the needs of today’s third level requirements.
I have a personal interest in this development. I was brought up in the area and I went to school adjacent to the site. As Members will be aware, the site had quite a sad history as being one of Ireland’s largest mental institutions until the 1960s when the then head of Grangegorman, Dr. Ivor Browne, decided that it was appropriate, in respect of psychiatry, to break down the walls and help people who, until then, had been institutionalised for long periods in St. Brendan’s hospital, get back into the community.
I suppose this legislation is the end of that process in that while many of us have reservations about the way psychiatric patients fared in terms of community-based care, what is happening here is a positive development and a landmark occasion in terms of education.
As a child I recall the odd moments I would day-dream out the window and see long, crocodile lines of patients walking aimlessly around the very large grounds of Grangegorman hospital. It should be remembered also that when Mother Mary Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity, one of the earliest institutions was located at Stanhope Street, which is just on the border of the site. That was one of the first institutions in the country to provide free education for girls. I was one of the people who benefited from that. My colleague, Deputy Costello, talked about the local community. I was probably the first woman from that community to get scholarships to go on to third level. With all the changes in Dublin the community has since prospered but there are still areas of deprivation there.
The ethos of the Dublin Institute of Technology has been to open its doors to all-comers, people at the highest level of educational achievement and those returning to second-chance education or taking part in evening courses while working. The ethos of the DIT, through its various schools, has been to embrace almost every area of educational attainment and offer opportunities to students at every level of educational achievement, from those doing evening courses and undergraduate four-year degrees to people doing Ph.D. studies and research at the highest levels. The fact that the DIT comes to this campus with that history and ethos is important in terms of making a success of this development for the future of education in Dublin and the country.
In that context, it is particularly appropriate that in the past year or two the DIT has developed a very successful degree in primary engineering, which is open to people who formerly would have done technician level courses but who now, through the DIT, can complete a degree. That is a fundamental development which greatly assists access to education and if that is the type of development the DIT undertakes on the new campus, it will be very welcome.
The campus is an exciting opportunity in the heart of northside Dublin, as my colleague, Deputy Costello, said, to do something which represents the new century and new opportunities in education. The DIT has a distinguished school of architecture and I hope the occasion of the development of the campus will be an opportunity to marry this most historic site, with its occasionally sad history, with the status of the DIT engineering and architecture faculties and schools, and produce buildings of international showpiece quality on the site.
With my colleague and local Deputy, Deputy Costello, the Taoiseach has taken a strong interest in this site over the years, as did the late Deputy Jim Mitchell. A characteristic we have in common is that we are all Dubliners from the centre of Dublin who did not come from particularly well-off backgrounds. I was thinking of the late Jim Mitchell when the Bill was published because he was one of the people who was very much in favour of the development of educational opportunity in north inner city Dublin.
With my colleague I query the membership of the agency. I know the Minister will opt for the best available people to make up the membership because, as with the Docklands Authority and Temple Bar, that will be critical to the success of the project. There must be a mixture of people who understand the educational requirements of the project as well as, presumably, people with hands-on project management and business experience who can put such a complex deal together and have it completed on time.
The Minister will be aware that the trade unions, including the TUI, which represents the staff, have asked to be involved in some capacity on the board of the agency. Given the positiveness with which the DIT community has met this proposal, I hope the Minister will have an opportunity to make provision for that.
In terms of the needs of this country and of a knowledge-based economy, the driving purpose of this development should be about education and educational development. I realise some people may see it as an opportunity for property development but, inevitably, property development and the building of many buildings will be a critical, although not a primary, purpose of the project. We need to keep focused on the fact that this development will be a critical investment in third level education which, when completed, will mark Dublin for the next 100 years. Finding the right CEO and chairperson to manage the project, therefore, will be critical.
Deputy Costello spoke about his idea of locating a police academy on the site. This site is very close to two leading centres of legal education. The King’s Inns is just across the road and the Law Society of Ireland, Blackhall Place, is about five minutes walk away. There is merit in Deputy Costello’s idea because there is an imbalance in regard to policing education in that insufficient time is spent by trainee gardaí in urban environments. It should be remembered that the training centre of the Garda, until the 1950s, was located very close by in the Phoenix Park, which is the current headquarters of the Garda. There is room for an imaginative initiative which would be hugely beneficial to the gardaí as they face the problem of policing in an urban environment. That is one of their critical challenges.
It must be borne in mind also that for many years the DIT has run excellent courses in law and criminology and has a highly regarded legal department, as well as many experts in sociology, urban design and the whole aspect of developing towns and cities. One can think of the imaginative marriage, so to speak, for the gardaí in terms of having an integrated experience which would allow one to examine, for instance, key elements that lead to anti-social behaviour. Most Members talk about that problem, particularly in an urban context. This is an exciting opportunity for the DIT and it is something the Minister should examine.
One area in which the DIT has specialised over the years is science education and development. Given that an insufficient number of students study science at third level and that this is a 70 acre campus — more if one adds the buildings around Broadstone — we could do something world class in terms of providing science facilities which would not only be for the use of research staff and students but which would also act as a focal point for younger children and schools in the greater Dublin area to encourage an interest in scientific education and training. There are interesting and exciting possibilities in this regard.
These plans will cost money. I note that initial provision is made in the Bill for drawing down funding and loans to the value of €100 million or so. That is a great deal of money but given the ambitious scale of this project, I hope it is enough. The project has been a little slower in developing than we would have liked. A key element of the project is to recycle existing buildings in the DIT and use them to part fund the development. It is important that there be sufficient funds to complete this ambitious project within a reasonable period. It should be borne in mind that the DIT has a number of older campuses in Cathal Brugha Street, Bolton Street and Kevin Street. The Kevin Street premises need significant refurbishment and is the key faculty for the sciences in the DIT. We need a time based plan to ensure that this project is not excessively long-fingered.
The project is close to Broadstone Station. On the Order of Business the Taoiseach said that he has recently been rethinking transport in Dublin. The metro appears to be off the menu. Broadstone Station is probably the largest, unutilised key transport facility in the Dublin area. A railway line runs through it and connects, via the tunnel under the Phoenix Park, with the Dublin-Cork line and Heuston Station and through the loop line with Connolly Station. It connects with every railway line in Ireland. For reasons best known to the Ministers for Transport and the board of CIE, it has lain unloved and unutilised for a long time.
Again, if there is a significant urban master plan for this development, re-utilising Broadstone as a key transport hub opens enormous possibilities not just for the daytime use of the Grangegorman site but also for its night-time use. This is in the medieval part of the city. The site is locked into a series of small roads so unless there is significant public transport access, particularly with the current policing situation on Dublin city streets, it would not be very attractive at night. However, if the transport links were properly developed in a master plan it could be the making of the site.
The site is bounded at one side by Prussia Street and Manor Street which historically constitute one of the five great roads of Ireland. At present, the site is landlocked on the Prussia Street side. If the site were opened to that street, it would provide access to another approximately 15 bus routes which would reinforce the hub nature of the site for public transport access. That is the reason it is important that a first class master plan be drawn up for the site and that the site, from an architectural and transport links point of view, should be a landmark development for this century.
On Committee Stage, the Labour Party will put forward a number of amendments. However, the Bill is an extremely positive development. The DIT, more than most Irish educational institutions, has developed a ladder system of education. In other words, it is possible to enter the DIT to study at different levels, for example, as a direct entrant from second level, on a part-time evening basis or short course basis, and through the accumulation of qualifications, credits and so forth to continue to PhD level, as the current professor of engineering in UCD did. I hope that tradition will not only continue but be expanded when the DIT finally locates to the campus in Grangegorman.
Mr. Cuffe: I must first declare an interest. I am on leave of absence from my lectureship in the Dublin Institute of Technology. I also wish to point out that the views I express in this debate are my own and not those of the DIT.
As an architect, urban designer and town planner, I am enthused and excited by the prospect of the development at Grangegorman. It is an incredible opportunity to create a new utopia in the heart of Dublin. It has incredible potential to transform the north-west inner city and the Dublin Institute of Technology. It also has the ability to transform people’s lives in Dublin city. The opportunity in this part of the city is unparalleled in hundreds of years. It is a hugely significant step for the institution. I believe we can build an incredible addition to the city of Dublin in the heart of the city.
We have had experience of that over recent years in the docklands, with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority carrying on the work started by the Irish Financial Services Centre. The Temple Bar project was a smaller attempt to create a sustainable community in the heart of Dublin. We can learn from the successes and failures of those projects.
Over the last generation there has been a sea change in the way planners view development. In the 1960s, there was huge enthusiasm for the ideas of Le Corbusier, who believed it was possible to build a modern new city with strict zoning, increased provision for the automobile and segregation of different types of transport. He had a modern view of the city. I believe we have moved away from that view. We are more concerned with having a mixture of uses within a single area and allowing for a diversity of expression within a single neighbourhood. It is important that we learn from the latest ideas and from the best practice of new communities and areas being developed abroad.
There is no dearth of ideas. There are fantastic new developments in education and in community development in places such as Barcelona and the Netherlands. We must learn from them. There is a danger that too much emphasis will be put on the educational aspect in the development of Grangegorman. I believe it should be a more mixed community. There should be housing not only for students but also the panorama of housing that we wish to provide through our housing policy, that is, social housing, affordable housing, student housing and private housing. Only that can ignite the tinder flame of making this into a sustainable community.
It is only if we get that mix that we can truly say the development of Grangegorman is of tremendous value and benefit to the wider city. However, we have this opportunity to create a utopia. First and foremost, we need a master plan which must be carefully drawn up in full consultation with the surrounding communities, the unions and all possible stakeholders to the development. There was an early draft plan which had more in common with the kind of planning ethos that gave us Belfield in the 1960s than the kind of ethos necessary for a new development in the heart of an existing community in the 21st century.
The new development must relate to the surrounding community and must break through the walls. I am conscious of how, for instance, the National College of Ireland takes as its motto, “breaking down the walls”. Grangegorman has exactly the same capacity to do this. It will have to break down the walls and make use of strategic opportunities if it is to come out onto Prussia Street, Manor Street and the surrounding roads, including the North Circular Road. Such opportunities exist and will have to be seized to make a first class campus.
It is not about building new roads but new streets. It is about an urban language and a topology that ties into the kind of medium density development that characterises the new Dublin. However, this must be undertaken sensitively and must liaise and take account of the local community as partners and stakeholders and must provide for them as well as the wider needs of the institution.
There is no shortage of knowledge. In Kevin Kearns’s fantastic book, Stoneybatter: Dublin’s Inner-Urban Village, this American sociologist has written with incredible insight on how the north inner city works. His views can aid the process of development. This process must reflect the urban grain of the inner city, must tie in the edges and should consider carefully the assets on site at present. One month ago, I had the pleasure of playing football with the sports against racism in Ireland initiative. When one stands on the playing fields at Grangegorman, one can see what a remarkable asset it is. If the gently sloping site was in slightly warmer climes, I am sure there would be vineyards on it, sloping towards the River Liffey, with the Dublin and Wicklow hills in the distance. All these opportunities must be seized and the existing strengths of the existing buildings, many of which are protected structures, must be fostered. The flora and fauna on site must be carefully examined and taken into account in the design process.
The previous speaker referred to transport issues in the area, which must be carefully considered. While Broadstone depot is a stone’s throw away, there is huge uncertainty in regard to the Government’s future plans for public transport. A huge stalling process is under way in this regard but it is crucial that public transport is at the heart of this development. We do not need surface car parks and we should be careful of building multi-storey car parks. I recently visited the Helix at Dublin City University and it is more of a “Blade Runner” scenario than a university campus should be. We should look at Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Boston, at Columbia University in New York and at the kind of campuses that allow the people of a city to pass through. To have a campus without walls is crucial. It must be a 24-hour community. We cannot allow the students to disappear and we cannot allow the campus simply to be an educational institution.
I am incredibly enthused about this project and about the capacity of the Dublin Institute of Technology to act as a focus for the ongoing development of Dublin’s inner city. The institution has an incredible capacity to interact with the working class communities of Dublin, the new communities of Dublin and those who have moved into the inner city in recent years. One fact I bring to the Minister’s attention is that the second most spoken language in Stoneybatter at present is Chinese. Stoneybatter has a huge immigrant community and Dublin 7 has probably the strongest immigrant community on the island. Links must be made there. Most of that community are here to study English and the DIT can work out ways of building on the strengths of that group.
The master plan is crucial. It should go out to a public competition, a process that worked well for Temple Bar. The master plan process was very important in regard to the docklands. What docklands stage two has learned from the IFSC is that not to have the local community on board is to miss out on a huge asset. This is why docklands stage two is working better. We need to apply this kind of thinking to developments at Grangegorman.
With my colleague, Deputy Gogarty, I look forward to engaging with the Bill on Committee Stage. It is one of the most interesting opportunities for Dublin’s inner city in many years. It is certainly a make or break opportunity for the DIT. I wish the Bill well and hope to comment in further detail on Committee Stage.
Mr. Connolly: I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill whose purpose is to relocate the various colleges of the Dublin Institute of Technology, of which there are perhaps 40 in all, to an extensive and major new campus at Grangegorman. While I approve of the way the action is being taken, I am concerned it could have implications for other psychiatric hospital grounds throughout the country. There is a danger a precedent could be set. That the land is not to be sold is welcome but the development raises the issue of the sale of such lands. The media is reporting the matter with regard to the value of the lands and how much can be made from their sale. However, if all went well and €1 billion was made, this would be only 10% of the health budget. It would solve some difficulties in terms of the current budget but, in the long term, the assets would be gone. We should think carefully before considering the sale of such lands. The type of development proposed for Grangegorman, with colleges or health offices moving into facilities, is the way we should be moving in other areas.
The new campus will be located side by side with purpose-built facilities to cater for the intensive rehabilitative needs of patients, including those with mental illness. The mentally ill will be integrated into college life to some extent and a village format will be developed. It is also envisaged to develop custom-built primary care facilities, day care and residential care for the elderly and those with special needs, which is to be welcomed and what the campus should be about. I understand that a palliative care day unit will also be developed in collaboration with St. Francis Hospice, Raheny. These facilities are perfectly in keeping with the ethos of St. Brendan’s Hospital in Grangegorman up to now, which was to keep abreast of international trends, to decentralise the delivery of psychiatric care services from large institutional settings to multidisciplinary community services and to move towards the development of acute psychiatric services in general hospitals.
It is important to note that treatment methods in the psychiatric services have changed significantly and we are witnessing new ways of delivering services. In the past, most patients were treated in hospital. The emphasis in my area was to split counties Cavan and Monaghan into four community sector areas with a community day centre in each headquarters from where services were delivered. Greater emphasis was also put on visiting patients in their homes through community and domiciliary services. The idea now is to get staff out of hospital and to provide services in the home. Staff take responsibility for a number of patients, give them attention in their homes and, therefore, reduce the need to have patients in hospital settings. That is the way services are going. It will mean that many of the psychiatric services will be freed up, which is to be welcomed. This new emphasis began in 1984 when the Department of Health, as it was known then, published its planning for the future report. In the mid-1980s, St. Brendan’s had an inpatient population of 900. Today, there are only 140 inpatients, excluding those residing in community houses. In the St. Davnet’s complex 25 years ago there were approximately 600 patients. Now there are approximately 40 patients, mainly geriatric patients.
Acute provision is now mainly transferred to general hospital settings arising from the considerable planning and development that took place over the last ten years. The theory is that treatment for mental or physical illness should be carried out in a general hospital building. However, occasionally in practice this can be carried too far. A patient admitted to hospital can often be in a disinhibited state. Is it fair to bring him or her into the general hospital system when he or she is not at his or her best? The location of acute units in general hospitals is often not in the best areas. I know of one located in the lower ground floor of the hospital. The idea is simply to locate the acute unit somewhere in the general hospital, which is not always right. For acute patients a good area is needed with lovely grounds and trees where patients can walk around, allowing them to recover from their illnesses in dignity and privacy. The notion of the general hospital at all costs must be re-examined. If not, then hospitals should be located in leafy green areas.
Some 16 years ago, there was a fantastic day care facility in the centre of Cavan town. However, it was moved to a hospital one mile out of the town centre. Before this, it was a much sought after facility and an example of how services could be brought to a community. The relocation was a reversal and at the time I believed it was wrong. The more services that can be located within the community, the better. For many years, the existing buildings in St. Brendan’s have been in need of modernisation. This presents the ideal opportunity to provide state-of-the-art facilities for the 21st century. However, St. Brendan’s Hospital is more than 100 years old and not much money has been spent on it. It is institutional which does not send out a good signal but provides a good media story on conditions in the health services. To some extent part of this will be left behind. The institutional face of these type of buildings will slowly break down.
The move by the Dublin Institute of Technology to Grangegorman is reminiscent of the relocation of UCD from its various scattered facilities around Dublin city to Belfield in the 1970s. It had major consequences for UCD when it moved from Earlsfort Terrace as it had been based there for 100 years. It was very traumatic for staff and students. The engineering block containing Leinster House offices was a UCD building. Some will argue it is now put to much better use. UCD has progressed significantly since the days the late John Feeney welcomed Archbishop John Charles McQuaid to the campus with snowballs.
The subdivision of the Grangegorman site into a modern third level campus with custom-built medical facilities is preferable to any suggestion to sell off hospital lands for development. These lands are often central and valuable and developers have their eyes on acquiring them. This merely serves to enrich developers in the short term while health services agencies concurrently lease premises in a variety of locations. I have great difficulty with how public service organisations, particularly health boards, lease premises. When I sat on the North Eastern Health Board, the finance officer continually put forward proposals to rent property. I saw the health board tying itself into contracts costing in excess of €1 million for five-year terms. Good public money is being poured down the sink. A system must be put in place where, for the same expenditure of money, a public service agency can buy its own property. In the long term, whether it is ten or 20 years, it will have the asset of the bricks and mortar at the same cost as leasing it. The Government must change the law to allow health boards to enter into purchase agreements. Selling off the family silverware by leasing premises amounts to a haemorrhage of public funds and is a classic example of false economy.
A classic example is St. Davnet’s Hospital complex at Rooskey, County Monaghan, which has been utilised to provide a range of social, educational and community facilities. In recent years, it has accommodated a Monaghan Institute of Further Education and Training centre, a nursing home, a theatre, local health services office, servicing counties Monaghan and Cavan, a births, marriages and deaths registration office, two hostels, a swimming pool, Monaghan Harps club complex and a breast screening facility. Where is the logic in having a scarcity of room at Monaghan General Hospital while there are ample facilities in the St. Davnet’s complex? Can the administrative facilities of the general hospital be transferred to another location? Can the laundry or pathology departments, for example, be relocated? In the St. Davnet’s example, acres of space could be used for this purpose. Meanwhile, in Cavan General Hospital, one of the main difficulties is space for the accident and emergency unit, where recently 29 people were on trolleys. This is a rural hospital that did not have much experience with trolleys three years ago. Instead of setting up committees to examine selling lands, they should be focused on considering the need for this type of space. St. Davnet’s is a perfect example of using hospital facilities to their optimum capacity.
The transformation of the Grangegorman site will add to its international prestige. A number of years ago, films were made on the site. As Deputy Cuffe said, it is a beautiful site and ideally situated for the Dublin Institute of Technology. The proposed complex will be a major factor in the regeneration of a large segment of north Dublin, including Phibsborough and Broadstone. The total cost of the project is estimated at €750 million, of which the Government will contribute €200 million. Redeveloping the Grangegorman site can be classified as the provision of infrastructure in the revitalisation of the 70-acre site close to the inner city. This would represent excellent value for money since previously derelict areas would be revived. The DIT would be responsible for the provision of 73% of the costs from various fund-raising and revenue generating activities.
The Department of Education and Science recently put a dampener on the further development and evolution of the DIT by declaring last May that the transfer to Grangegorman would not mean the DIT would be granted university status. In this momentous move for the DIT to a single integrated campus where it will achieve a new identity while retaining the best features of its past, the icing on the cake would be the achievement of university status. The DIT has long sought university status, and it would be appropriate that with the consolidation of all its facilities in a single location, it should take its place as the country’s next university.
Professor Malcolm Skilbeck recommended the granting of university status to the DIT with a clear industrial and technological mission, thereby introducing a new type of university. He said the current deep divide between the seven universities and the institutes of technology only serves to inhibit creativity and innovation.
University status for the DIT would reflect the pressing need for more graduates as we move towards a more highly-skilled and knowledge-based economy. It would provide much greater flexibility for the DIT and would allow it to respond to the educational needs of students and industry in a positive and constructive way. It would enable the institute to develop further its own distinct ethos and tradition. Many people would not otherwise have gained access to third level education were it not for the DIT.
The former Minister for Education, Niamh Bhreathnach, recommended that consideration be given to the granting of university status to the DIT. During her tenure in office, a review group recommended that the DIT be granted authority to award degrees in respect of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses with effect from the academic year 1998-99. However, the Higher Education Authority rejected this proposal, even though the DIT had made a strong case for inclusion in the Universities Act 1996 which provided a statutory mechanism for the recognition of third level institutions as universities.
It would be reasonable if funding for the Eastern Regional Health Authority were to be made available from the transfer of land to the DIT for investment in health facilities. The DIT is doing well out of this deal and it would also be fair for some consideration to be given to making a financial contribution for health purposes.
As far as the Grangegorman site is concerned, the importance of providing transport access is a crucial issue that cannot be stressed enough since the site is effectively landlocked. Public transport access must be considered in the context of an integrated urban design and land use plan. Such a plan, similar to a feasibility study, would include proposals for community use and access with a high quality urban design perspective. It would also be essential that it would complement the character of the neighbourhood.
The CIE site at Broadstone is adjacent to Grangegorman and, given that there would be a Luas or metro link with the new Grangegorman development, it would make eminent sense that any planned development of the CIE site at Broadstone should be integrated with the development of the Grangegorman site from the viewpoints of greater flexibility, improved access and financial return to the State.
The Government recently announced the national spatial strategy. Part of the development of this strategy included the selection of greenfield sites in towns. In many cases large psychiatric hospitals can provide the necessary level of greenfield sites. We should re-examine how we can devolve Departments outside Dublin as the greenfield sites are available and this would be a fantastic way of addressing the matter. In most respects, general hospitals are located adjacent to psychiatric hospitals which would fulfil the national spatial strategy requirement of general hospital access in every area. I ask that consideration be given to this and not just to overcome short-term financing difficulties. We should hold on to what we have and not sell off the silverware. It can pay dividends in future and it would be a tragedy to look at financing ourselves out of trouble by selling off these lots of land. I welcome the Bill.
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): I thank Deputies for their contribution to the Bill. I am not sure if any other educational institute in the country can claim to have had the range of interests expressed here. By my reckoning, we have had three board members, three lecturers, two parents and one full-time student. I forgot to say at the outset that I was a part-time DIT student when I did the diploma in legal studies. Other institutes might claim to have more graduates or more parents but I do not think we would get the diversity we heard here today.
I can only hope future legislative initiatives I bring to the House as Minister for Education will be as welcomed as this particular Bill, but I am not so naive to expect that will be the case. It is very encouraging that all sides of the House have acknowledged the importance not only of this legislation in setting up the agency but have also recognised the role and importance of the DIT and its educational value throughout the country and not just in the city of Dublin.
Many speakers referred to the senior members of the DIT who are in the Visitors Gallery and I too welcome them. I also thank them for their interest, involvement and help in progressing this legislation, of which I am aware through my involvement as Chief Whip.
Many Deputies from the constituency in which Grangegorman is located have spoken on this matter. The legislation would not be discussed here today if it were not for the personal interest of the Taoiseach who has been the driving force behind this initiative. Of all the local TDs who are all very interested in it, he genuinely wants to see this happen. He wants to see the development for the good of the educational institute but, especially for the good of the local area. As other Deputies stated, the Grangegorman site has immense potential. It has tremendous potential for the students of this illustrious body, DIT staff, health facilities as referred to by Deputy Connolly, and the involvement of the entire local community. While most speakers focused on the educational side of the development, he stressed the health aspects. We hope to progress the establishment of the agency quickly on foot of finalising the Bill.
Deputies raised various issues that can be summarised under a number of headings. These include membership of the agency, commercial on-site activities, student accommodation, accessibility and transport needs in conjunction with transport bodies and Dublin City Council, community involvement, the role of local representatives, political input and the participation of the disadvantaged.
If we were to take on board all the suggestions made as to what should be included on the site ranging from public housing, health facilities and educational facilities, we would need to include the redevelopment of the area up to O’Connell Street. As I said, the site is a substantial one and there is great scope for us to do all the things people have asked.
I wish to address some specific issues regarding the site itself. A number of Deputies, including Deputy O’Sullivan who is present, asked if there was a danger that parts of the site would be sold off for commercial or industrial activity. There is no intention to sell of any part of the site for such purposes. All commercial activity will be linked directly to the education centre, perhaps in the form of the enterprise incubator units where research facilities will be based, and research activities ancillary to the health services or the wider education services. Nothing will be sold off for that purpose. It will all be directly linked to it.
Student accommodation on a campus enlivens the campus and the area. By keeping people there through the evening and night, greater use is made of the sporting or social facilities and this will be an important part of the development of Grangegorman. The Dublin Institute of Technology proposes to include student accommodation on campus. It is confident that by being on one site and having a stronger identity than at present, it will be able to lever private funding, not just for student accommodation but also for other academic activities on site, and I wish it well with that. Student accommodation will be an integral part of the site.
Deputies from the area raised the issue of community links but all welcomed the Bill and will play a major role in progressing it as we go through Committee and Report Stages. The Dublin Institute of Technology has been to the fore in including programmes for disadvantaged students and ensuring access and involvement in its various colleges throughout the city. We pay tribute to it for that. The computer skills programme in the flat complexes working with Hewlett Packard was mentioned, and there has been a great deal more such activity. I recently gave a lunchtime talk in St. Thomas’ church in Cathal Brugha Street where traditionally I participated in the conferring ceremony. It was strange to be back in a different capacity in the little Church of Ireland. The college provided the lunchtime soup and sandwiches free of charge. That is a simple example of the type of co-operation in which the institute has been involved. It is anxious to strengthen and build on those links at its new campus in Grangegorman.
Deputies proposed various ideas about the transportation strategy, the need or otherwise for car parking space, opening Broadstone railway station and the kind of links needed. It will be critical. Students will come from throughout the country. Many will stay locally while others will stay around the city. For that reason the Bill provides for consultation with various transport providers. Whereas initial contact has been made with the relevant Departments and State authorities, it will be a priority of the agency to pursue access and transport issues with the institute. It will not be needed for a few years but planning must take place now.
I agree with some of the issues raised about the membership of the agency. I have begun to examine that and will have completed it before Committee Stage. The involvement of the Dublin Institute of Technology struck me as an area to consider. Some mentioned the role of public representatives on the agency. It is true that sometimes we rule ourselves out of activities about which we know most and public representatives can play a significant role, as we have seen in the contributions today. The Taoiseach too has played a role in progressing this. I am conscious also of the local community. The agency allows for the Minister to have several members so there are mechanisms for ensuring that we can have representation, but I will strengthen that in a more defined way on Committee Stage.
This is the initial stage of the project in that we are talking only about setting up the agency, but that is crucial in determining the future of that body. The Government has committed approximately €200 million for phase one of the amalgamation. The value of the properties which the institute holds throughout the city cannot be underestimated. Those properties will be vested in the agency which can use them to provide financing for subsequent phases of the project. The Department of Finance believes this project will be self-financing. We will wait and see. There is great potential for the development of this area of the city and it is the right type of development. By involving education, health, sport and leisure facilities and the community it will kick-start the development of the area.
I am less sure about Deputy Costello’s suggestion to locate the Garda training college on the campus. He mentioned that it is located in Templemore in Tipperary which is very isolated. As somebody who comes from a place nine miles down the road from Templemore, I must say it is far from isolated. That is not to deny that the legal department in the Dublin Institute of Technology is very good but the work in the training college in Templemore is equally good and is internationally recognised.
Nevertheless, the potential is great as the complex develops in the future. There is potential for educational and commercial development and for job opportunities, all of which is true of the sites being vacated as well. The project offers scope for imaginative development in this part of the city. The agency will be able to draw on the expertise and knowledge of a wide range of interests. It will be of value to the Dublin Institute of Technology, the local community, the city as a whole and ultimately the country. On a day when we acknowledge and celebrate 150 years of University College Dublin, it is opportune that we talk about the largest institute of technology which will soon commence its move to a single site.
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