Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week visited Institute of Technology Carlow where he met with students, staff and research leaders who showcased the huge range of environmental and socioeconomic activities currently underway at Ireland’s third-largest institute of technology.
Mr Varadkar was given a tour of the modern and expanding campus, including the Haughton Teaching and Learning Building, the Barrow Centrehousing the student support services and sports facilities, the Central Services Building and the site of the new €20million applied and health sciences building announced earlier this year.
He met a number of the Institute’s managers and faculty who outlined some of the initiatives underway at Institute of Technology Carlow.
Brian Ogilvie, Head of Research and Commercialisation Support at Institute of Technology Carlow, briefed the Taoiseach on CATALYST, a new project launching this week at the Institute to drive innovation within Welsh and Irish businesses in the life science and food and drink sectors.
The scheme will work with 60 businesses to develop new specialist products, access new markets, and ensure packaging of products are sustainably sourced and minimised.
Dr. Thomae Kakouli-Duarte, director of enviroCORE Research Centre at Institute of Technology Carlow, spoke to the Taoiseach on the new European-fundedReNu2Farm initiative, involving the Institute and nine other national and international partners from higher education organisations, research institutes and industry, which is seeking to replace conventional mineral fertilisers with recycling-derived equivalents.
The project will work to address the global threat posed to industrial agriculture by the vast depletion of the essential macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, without which plants cannot survive.
Dr. Niamh McCrea, Director of socialCORE, spoke to the Taoiseach about the work of the recently-established centre dedicated to applied research to support quality policy and practice in the fields of social care, youth work and early childhood education.
She discussed the solidarity work being undertaken by students and staff of socialCORE, alongside other partners, with members of the Rohingya refugee community in Carlow.
The Taoiseach also met with Dr. Allison Kenneally, Director of the Office of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity at Institute of Technology Carlow, who talked about developments in this area and on the Institute’s application for an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, the gender equality benchmark.
Institute of Technology Carlow will be among the first in the technological sector to make an application in November, which it has been working towards for the last 12 months.
“An Athena SWAN Bronze Award recognises a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff,” Dr. Kenneally told the Taoiseach.
Speaking about his visit, the Taoiseach said: “I was delighted to meet with students and staff at IT Carlow and I was very impressed to learn of the various research initiatives being brought forward here across a range of different fields.
"Institute of Technology Carlow plays a very important role in driving economic progress and job creation across the south east region, and the Government is fully committed to investing in our higher education institutions, including the new Technological University for the South East, through Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s €116 billion investment plan.”
Later, the Taoiseach called to the Student’s Union where he was greeted by students from some of the Institute’s 60 clubs and societies.
A keen runner himself, the Taoiseach congratulated Women’s World Silver Relay Medallist Molly Scott and 100m and 200m medallist Marcus Lawler, currently 2nd Year Law and Masters students, respectively.
He also greeted and spoke with several of the Institute’s other sports scholars, including: Richie Leahy (Hurling), Aoife Heffernan (Gaelic Football), Jack Nolan (Rugby), Meaghan Kenny (Rugby), Grace O’Donnell (Camogie), Michael Hurley (Gaelic Football), Adam Murphy (Athletics), Amanda McQuillan (Soccer) and Shane Barnes (Soccer)
The Taoiseach also attended the Carlow Business Awards and he went for a bite to eat in Mimosa.