Wexford County Council are to look to other third level institutions in a bid to establish a new state of the art college campus in Wexford following the latest snub from IT Carlow.
In a long running saga, IT Carlow had funding allocated for a new Wexford campus in 2015 and since pulled out of deals for sites at Ferrybank and Newtown Road. At a previous county council meeting, Cllr George Lawlor had blasted a lack of engagement from the institute on the project, after sites in Barntown and Killeens had been put forward as potential locations. He had asked that the council invite the President of the institute Dr Patricia Mulcahy to come to the next meeting and discuss their plans for Wexford.
However, as councillors sat for their March meeting, they were disappointed to find that there had been no response to the invitation.
'We've discussed sites and are doing good work, but I don't think we're any closer on this than we were three or four years ago,' said Cllr John Hegarty. 'If they (IT Carlow) are not willing at this stage, then we need to look elsewhere and talk to other universities.'
Cllr Leonard Kelly branded it 'a disgrace' that the institute hadn't even replied to the invitation
Usually one to remain optimistic, the situation with IT Carlow even seemed to be testing the patience of the County Manager, Tom Enright.
'We made a substantial proposal to IT Carlow last October,' he said. 'We've had no response almost six months later. We will follow up on the invite given to the President to come and meet with us and maybe they'll give an update. Funding approval was given to the project back in September of 2015.'
Mr Enright also confirmed that Wexford County Council are now actively talking to other third level institutions about locating a campus here. It was noted that Wexford has many connections to other universities, one notable one being that the Provost of Trinity College, Dr Patrick Prendergast is an Oulart native.
Cllr George Lawlor vented his frustration that the topic had come up for discussion once again, still with no end in sight and no idea of what plans IT Carlow have for Wexford.
'I'm blue in the face from talking about this,' he said. 'I was the one who proposed that we invite the President of the college and their attitude towards Wexford is deplorable. Wexford has connections to some of the top universities in the world and with the new road we're only an hour away from Dublin. We are an excellent option for a campus, particularly with the cost of living etc being so high in Dublin at the moment. I think that we should treat IT Carlow with the same disdain that they've treated us.'
Cllr Lisa McDonald agreed with her colleagues, stating that 'The cost of living in Dublin has put education beyond reach for some people in Wexford'. She added that there was a real opportunity for Wexford in terms of establishing a third level campus and that all options should be examined. 'We need to think big,' she said. 'We need to be ambitious. We shouldn't let IT Carlow off the hook.'