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New Atlantic TU will drive investment

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LAUNCH Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy, TD  launching the West Regional Enterprise Plan on Friday last at the GMIT campus in Castlebar, from left: Stephen Creaner, Enterprise Ireland; Meabh Conaghan, Enterprise Ireland; Ricky Conneely, IDA; Minister of State, Robert Troy, TD; Chairperson Evelyn O’Toole; Tánaiste Leo Varadker, TD; Ray O’Connor, IDA; Louise Ward, Roscommon LEO and Helena Deane, WDC. Pic: Alison Laredo

Tánaiste launches West  Regional Enterprise Plan


Anton McNulty

The incoming President of the new Atlantic Technological University (ATU) says she wants the new university to play a major role in attracting investment to the west.
Dr Orla Flynn, the current President of GMIT was announced as the first President of the new Atlantic Technological University which will be formally established on April 1 next month. The new technological university will comprise of the three existing institutes of technology in the region - Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny IT and IT Sligo.
Speaking at the Castlebar campus of GMIT at the launch of the government’s West Regional Enterprise Plan on Friday last, Dr Flynn said the Mayo campus will be at the heart of what the regional enterprise plan has to offer the west.
“We will be working hard to support enterprise for the entire west and north-west region and we aim to be your higher institute of choice. All our doors will be open to you and this campus located in the heart of the region will be a gateway to the full strength which an Atlantic university can offer. My colleagues and I are very much looking forward to working with you all to translate this plan into a reality,” she said.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD, visited the GMIT campus on Friday to launch the West Regional Enterprise Plan for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon as part of a €180 million investment in regional development.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Varadkar said his priority as Minister is to create job opportunities all over the country and that 85 percent of new jobs are now created outside Dublin.

‘Encouraging’
“Recent employment data shows that the three counties, Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, there is a year on year increase on employment which is really encouraging,” he said.
He added that he believes that the new Atlantic TU will be vital in attracting investment into the west of Ireland.
“We must prepare now for jobs of the future and jobs that do not yet exist but will exist and we have to be ready for them. This campus is exactly the type of place that can make that transformation happen. On April 1, GMIT along with IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT will be come the fourth technological university in Ireland to be known as the Atlantic TU.
“The new TU will provide a multi-campus university presence in eight locations including here in Castlebar and I think this will be a real benefit for the region ensuring that more students from the local areas can go to third level and ensure more students are attracted in from other areas of Ireland and abroad.
“We know that local universities can attract investment into the locality and we saw the success of UL [University of Limerick] and DCU in north Dublin when people were skeptical. Nobody doubts now the decision to give those institutions university status,” he said.
Powerhouse
Referring to the Regional Enterprise Plan, Minister Varadkar said the he believes that the west can become a powerhouse of renewable energy.
“This plan, which has been developed by the local community, will look at how we can strengthen and grow existing industries, such as Life Sciences, AgTech and Food and of course the Cultural and Creative sector and realise the potential of new, developing industries, such as Renewable Energy. I believe the West has the potential to become a renewable energy powerhouse, fulfilling Ireland’s electricity needs and also some of Europe’s too. This plan is about realising that and other opportunities,” he said.
Welcoming the launch of the West Regional Plan, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy TD congratulated Evelyn O’Toole, Chairperson of the West Steering Committee, along with Helena Deane, West Programme Manager and to the committee members for delivering an exciting and ambitious Plan for the region.
“This plan is a direct result of the ambition and collaboration of industry leaders, enterprise agencies, local authorities, and more from across the region to address the unique challenges and opportunities for the West.
“I had the pleasure of working with Evelyn and the Committee throughout 2021 as the new plan was developed and am delighted to see the final product. I was determined to ensure that funding be made available to drive the Regional Enterprise Plans and I am very pleased that we have secured up to €180 million in funding over the coming years.  This will allow the enterprise community in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon pursue this ambitious plan and I look forward to working with Evelyn and the Steering Committee as they begin implementation,” he said.