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Disappointment as Minister closes the door to any VEC amalgamation review – Cullinane

8 November, 2011

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has expressed disappointment that the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has categorically ruled out any change to the amalgamation of city and county VECs across the country.

Senator Cullinane was speaking following a meeting between the Minister’s special advisor and a delegation from Waterford City and County which included VEC officials and Oireachtas members.

Speaking following the meeting Senator Cullinane said:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Minister has closed the door to any reasonable and constructive alternatives to his proposed amalgamation of VEC’s across the state. Today’s delegation delivered a viable and constructive alternative proposal to locate the headquarters of the Wexford and Waterford VEC in Waterford City. It is disappointing that the Minister is not for turning.

“Waterford City is best placed geographically to provide the administrative headquarters. It is the most central location and is also the Gateway City. It is envisaged in the National Spatial Strategy that Waterford City should be the economic engine of the region. However it is not being given the tools by the government and is being badly let down by state agencies. It has the highest unemployment rate with 22% in Waterford City compared with 13% in County Wexford.

“If the Minister is serious about creating and fostering a culture of innovation then he needs to support the shaping of an education hub in Waterford. Waterford is home to the region’s lead Institute of Technology and the expectation is that this will become a University. It is also the largest provider of PLC courses in the southeast and is home to the largest FAS training centre outside of Dublin.

“The Minister’s special advisor conceded that the decision was a ‘close call and was finely balanced’. In truth it was a political decision made not on the fair application of criteria but on the presence of a Minister in Wexford. This is a bad decision by this government. It would seem the old way of doing business politically is alive and well and must be resisted. Important decisions such as this should be based on need and merit and not for narrow party political interests.”

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