SETU Expands, Acquires the Waterford Crystal Site

SETU Expands, Acquires the Waterford Crystal Site

Response of Green Party TD, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, to the news that Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today confirmed approval has been given to the South East Technological University to expand its presence in Waterford.

‘This is a day that a number of us within government have been working towards over the past number of years. For the Waterford Campus of SETU to cater to the increased number of students planned for the University, it was clearly necessary to expand the physical footprint. Others would have preferred that future development would have focused on the Carriganore Campus, but I have always argued strongly that acquiring the Waterford Crystal site was the better option, and for a number of reasons.

Firstly, WIT was always rightly proud of the space it occupied in Waterford, both geographically and socially. Acquiring the Crystal site cements this legacy for SETU, and the economic benefits from being in the shadow of a university will continue to accrue to the surrounding neighbourhoods of Ballybeg, Lismore Park, Lisduggan and now communities even closer to the city. We often look to UL as an exemplar, but one of the mistakes made in Limerick is that the University turns its back to the city. In learning from that mistake, we can hope to maximise the beneficial links between our University and Waterford City.

Secondly, bringing this central site back into use is far better from a spatial and planning perspective. The transport links are already in place to allow students to walk, cycle or take public transport, and there are many improvements to come in these links as well. Developing purpose-built student accommodation on site will have to be part of the picture, relieving some of the pressure on housing in the city. With vision and ambition, we can develop a walkable, liveable, sustainable campus benefitting and benefitting from the city close by.

And thirdly, like many Waterford people, I have a deep emotional connection with the Waterford Crystal site. I would cycle past it each day on my way to St. Paul’s from my family home in Butlerstown. It has been totemic of Waterford’s rise and fall as a manufacturing economy, and in its derelict state it has too long stood as a symbol of stagnation on one of the main access corridors into our city. Now we can hope for and plan for both a physical and a symbolic renewal on the site as Waterford repositions itself as a force in the burgeoning knowledge economy.

I’m very thankful to Min. Harris for his support in making this happen, but he knows well that acquiring this site, while an immensely important step, is only half the battle. We will need to see significant capital expenditure on the site; for teaching buildings, for research facilities, for student accommodatation; if we are to realise the ambition we all share for our University. The acquisition of the Waterford Crystal site is the latest in a series of very significant investments in Waterford, from the North Quays to our new Sustainable Transport Bridge to the Second Cath Lab at UHW, that demonstrates in real and concrete terms this government’s commitment to Waterford City as the social and economic heart of the Southeast region.’