A Fine Gael Fingal TD has called for a third tier teaching institute for Swords, ‘to unlock skills and take Ireland into the next decade’.
MP Alan Farrell was speaking to the Dáil recently, when he called for a third level college for Fingal county town.
Deputy Farrell said there was a “clear deficiency” in further and higher learning institutions in Fingal and Swords, and called for “significant investment” in towns such as Swords and Balbriggan.
MP Farrell said: ‘As previously discussed with the Minister and indeed Ireland’s Education and Training Boards, ETBI, over the past few weeks there is a clear gap in higher education institutions and higher than Fingal, especially Swords, the county town and one of the fastest growing communities in the country with a population expected to top 100,000 over the next decade.
“Services are currently provided by facilities that may reflect earlier policies from 20 or 30 years ago. The emphasis which the Minister has placed on improving further and higher education in Ireland is welcome, including the very significant increase in budgets which the Education and Training Boards, ETB, have mentioned for nationwide service.
Deputy Farrell said Swords in particular offered the opportunity to develop and deliver additional facilities which can “unlock skills and take Ireland into the next decade”.
He praised the minister for his “relentless focus” on continuing education (FET), which he said is available on CAD applications this year, and developing learning in existing and emerging sectors such as cybersecurity.
The Fine Gael MP said Fingal being the most diverse and youngest community in Europe, “on this basis” the Department should invest more in Swords and in communities like Balbriggan, which has seen dramatic growth in the during the last decades.
He said: “Fifteen years ago the population of Balbriggan was 6,000 to 7,000 and now it is over 20,000. However, there are gaps and I think Fingal is one of those gaps that can to be filled, especially with the additional emphasis placed by the government and the minister on this sector.
“In order to meet the need to empower people, both locally and nationally, to acquire the skills required in the decades to come, it is crucial that we invest in the long-term health of the nation and its long-term education.
“Furthermore, by providing these services in areas of maximum impact that will be critical to this goal, Swords offers the Department a chance to have a meaningful impact on a young and growing population.”
Deputy Farrell said he “fully expects” the upcoming census to show that the population of Swords is “well over 55,000, if not 60,000”.
He hoped, he said, that the Minister, together with the Education and Training Boards of Ireland (ETBI) and the Education and Training Board of Dublin and Dún Laoghaire (DDLETB ), would consider Swords a suitable location for a third-tier institute, given its proximity to the city but also the large young population there.