Councillors back Dundalk IT upgrade

Councillors have thrown their support behind a campaign calling for the upgrading of Dundalk IT to university status, despite one councillor saying Cavan is “falling between the stools” when it comes to third level education.

At their October meeting, the local authority was given a presentation from the college’s president Michael Mulvey and chair Paddy Malone.

They highlighted the work being undertaken in a bid to secure Technological University status, following on from the launch of the Technological University of the Shannon, Midlands and Midwest. It was formed after a number of ITs, including Athlone IT, merged earlier this month.

Mr Malone told the meeting the college was seeking the support of the four county councils in the north east - Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath - saying the upgrade would “be to the benefit of everyone in the region”.

However, questions were asked over what benefit the change would bring to Cavan.

Councillor John Paul Feeley (FF) said many students from Cavan travel to Athlone, Sligo, Letterkenny and Dublin for third level education, with poor transport options linking the county with Dundalk putting many off enrolling there.

“Dublin is more convenient than Dundalk for many,” he contended.

He said, looking at a map of where students choose to study, “Cavan is in the middle of them and it’s falling between the stools”.

Cllr Feeley called for a “proper link” to be set up with Cavan Institute, saying: “You’re looking for our support, we need your support.”

In response to what he described as “a very reasonable question”, Mr Malone said there was already a lot of collaboration with Cavan and Monaghan Institutes but “not as much as we would like”.

He also praised the work between DkIT and Ballyhaise Agricultural College, as well as the partnerships developed with local businesses but stopped short of giving any commitments on a future college campus or further investment in the county.

Cllr Winston Bennett (FG) also called for more support for the county.

“We need Cavan to be linked into this,” he said. Vice president of the college, Irene McCausland, who attended the meeting via Zoom, said there was a lot of work being done by the college in Cavan which isn’t visible, including training and upskilling with local companies.

She said there was a hope to set up a Memorandum of Understanding between DkIT and local councils to set out strategic goals and a plan for a three-year period.

Councillors present unanimously backed the campaign.