19 February 2004
University of Ulster, Coleraine
In a wide-ranging speech at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, on the theme of partnership as the only way forward for Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern TD, paid tribute to the work of Universities Ireland and its chairman, University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McKenna.
Mr Ahern said:
“I want to make particular mention of the importance of links [between North and South] in education, and at university and third level in particular. In that regard, I want to pay special tribute to the contribution being made by Gerry McKenna, your Vice Chancellor. Gerry, I know that you have always had a personal commitment to the value of North-South links, and it is fitting that you are the first Chairman of Universities Ireland, the new group bringing together the Heads of the nine Universities on the island to promote collaboration and to market Ireland internationally as a centre of excellence in higher education. We are very pleased that the combined potential of the nine Colleges is being harnessed in this way.
It is clear that research and development are key to enhancing competitiveness, and here the links between Universities and business on an all-island basis are going to be crucial.”
Mr Ahern also noted “an exciting new initiative launched last week by InterTradeIreland called expertiseireland.com. This initiative draws together in electronic form a large range of research projects and work currently being undertaken by Universities, North and South. It is a valuable tool for both academics and businesses in both parts of the island.”
In closing Mr Ahern said “the landscape of North/South co-operation has been transformed in the last few years” and we must “all get on with the business of mutual benefit – working together to deliver the practical fruits of peace to both parts of this island.”
See the Taoiseach’s full speech.