The South East will finally have its own University by January 2022 and it will include a Wexford campus.
That was the message relayed to local TDs and Senators during a meeting held on Monday afternoon in which representatives from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and IT Carlow discussed their plans for the future.
Senator Malcolm Byrne chaired the meeting and he said that it had been very positive on all sides.
'The Institutes have clearly indictated their plan to lodge their application by year end with a view to achieving designation as a University of the South East by January 2022. It is planned to meet with Minister for Education, Deputy Simon Harris, later this week,' said Senator Byrne.
Joining the Senator were Wexford TDs Verona Murphy, Paul Kehoe and James Browne, and Deputy Murphy said approaching the development as a unified team was key to ensuring it got over the line.
'It was a good meeting, very positive, all the South East TDs came together with WIT and Carlow IT and we looked at it from a mainstream approach,' said Deputy Murphy.
'The good news is we expect the Technical University for the South East to be up and running by January 2022. We'll be taking further meetings on a regular basis with representatives so we can get a firm roadmap permanently in place.'
The subject of a new Wexford campus has been the source of much debate in recent months and tensions between IT Carlow and elected representatives had occasionally ran high.
But Deputy Murphy said those issues had been resolved and everyone was now focusing on looking ahead to the futre.
'I've been talking to Paula Mulcahy (President of IT Carlow) about the Wexford campus and she's actually meeting with Wexford County Council tomorrow with regards to a site, and says she expects the planning permission to be in place by the end of this year,' said Deputy Murphy.
'It's very, very positive, I'll be speaking to her again after tomorrow's meeting.'
Referring to previous discourse, which saw IT Carlow brand comments made by local councillors as 'unhelpful', Deputy Murphy said, 'There's a been a lot of misrepresentation, but if we're going to enage as a cohort we need to do it in a mainstream way and get the job done.'
Although Deputies Brendan Howlin and Johnny Mythen were unable to make the meeting, Senator Byrne said everyone was now singing from the same hymn sheet.
'We all want to achieve a multi-campus University of the South East, including with a Wexford campus,' he said. 'And this University will have a regional, national and international impact.
'The fact that this is a cross-party, cross-constituency group of Oireachteas members is really positive and we are all working together. Brendan Howlin and Johnny Mythen could not make the meeting but both have been involved in the process and we are committed to the overall goal.'
Meanwhile the governing body of IT Carlow have identified a preferred site in Wexford town for their new campus.
Last week, Mayor of Wexford Cllr Leonard Kelly met with President of the College Dr Patricia Mulcahy and VP for Corporate Affairs Cormac O'Toole to discuss the progress being made on the project and received assurances that things are now moving in the right direction.
'It is progressing,' Cllr Kelly said. 'The IT have identified a site of 30 acres in Wexford and they are now carrying out their own feasibility studies.
While Cllr Kelly refused to be drawn on the location of the site, it's reported that a green field site at Killeens was among the favoured destinations for the new Wexford campus, both from the point of view of Wexford County Council and the college.
Following on from the announcement of a new 1,000 student post primary school and a new Educate Together Primary School to be built in Wexford, Cllr Kelly said that all three create a unique opportunity for Wexford, particularly if all three could be constructed on one multi-faceted 'educational campus'.