Independent Media Centre Ireland

Eclectic Workshop in Omeath

category louth | sci-tech | news report author Sunday February 01, 2004 17:29author by Sean Crudden - Cooley Environmental and Health Groupauthor email sean.crudden at iol dot ieauthor address Greenore, Co Louth

Jack McQuillan Speaks by Proxy

The full program was accomplished in The Strand, Omeath at Saturday's fourth annual winter workshop organised by the Cooley Environmental and Health Group. Arthur Morgan TD was in attendance for the opening presentation. Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes OMA PhD, bishop of Ulster and Cooley, attended for the full session.

The fourth annual winter workshop organised by Cooley Environmental and Health Group took place on Saturday afternoon (31 January 2004) in The Strand, Omeath.

Caitriona O’Brien, Communications Manager, Central Public-Private Partnership Unit, Department of Finance opened the workshop entitled “Fabrication, Machinery, Dundalk and the Environment.” She said the Irish concept of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was not lifted straight from Thatcher’s Britain. It was not a copy of the French model. Nor was it privatisation – because most of the schemes in Ireland would revert to state ownership. The emphasis was on speeding up the process of tendering and construction. Not only was there greater value for money from PPP’s but consultation with end-users and innovations were built into the system. Typically projects would cost over 20 million Euro and projects would extend over a period of 25 years. Current PPP projects in Ireland involved a “bundle” of 5 schools, roads and water treatment. PPP may come into operation in the future where social and affordable housing is concerned.

Eric Hynes in a crafted talk gave an account of how he became interested in cabinet-making – from his schooldays in Dundalk Technical Schools to employment in McIlroys in Castleblaney, Walsh’s of Navan and The Dundalk Furniture Company. He outlined in a piquant way how Hynes Brothers’ Company established their furniture and “kitchen” manufacturing business in Bellurgan in the 1960’s.

Jack McQuillan, suffering from a heavy cold following a recent trip to Australia, was not in attendance, but Sean Crudden, as proxy, relayed Jack’s intended talk to the meeting from notes he took the previous evening in a 2 hour phone call from Mr McQuillan. The talk covered the history of engineering in Dundalk since the 18th century as well as a comprehensive account of the GNR (Great Northern Railway).

William Jones – a maintenance engineer in Belfast – said that regulations in manufacturing such as health and safety regulations in the food industry added heavily to the cost of production. It was difficult, therefore, for Irish firms to compete with foreign goods from countries where regulation was lax or non-existent. He mentioned the recent scare about farmed salmon and pointed out that salmon feed originated in third world countries where there was little or no regulation. Safety standards in food production should be universalised he suggested and the disposal of waste should be heavily regulated.

After a break for tea Larry Staudt showed the workshop some pictures on his lap-top of the giant windmill which will be built on the DkIT campus later this year and which will supply most of the Institute’s electricity in the future. He showed pictures, too, of a small wind machine with 1m “wings” which would be capable of supplying 1.5 kW of electricity to a family home. When this prototype machine is fully developed it is intended to seek ways of mass-producing it for Irish and world markets. Obviously it would suit rural houses where more than one machine could be conveniently erected to help with household energy needs.

Tommy Connolly outlined the development of technical training since the passing of The Vocational Education Act in 1935 through AnCO to FAS. Apprentice training has graduated from older laissez faire methods to modern Standard Based Apprenticeship. Apprenticeship training now consists of seven stages and the apprentice to qualify must pass the test at every stage. Irish training standards are high by world standards. There is less demarcation than in the old days and the modern engineering apprentice will be multi-skilled.

Peter Mulligan, in a very entertaining presentation, ranged over topics such as the importance of investment in machinery and the work of DEW. He produced a picture of the Heinkle bubble car manufactured in DEW as well as a picture of one of the giant box-making machines produced in S&S. He said that the biggest of these box-making machines constructed in Dundalk measured 120m in length and a penny could be balanced on edge at any point on the top of these machines when in full production if only they were correctly installed. He showed his many passports and told stories of an encounter with Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners, and the Real Madrid football team as well as a near escape in an encounter with “the law” in Fort Worth. He met by chance a McDermott family in the Mid-West of America who were his own relations whom he never had heard of up to that point. One of these McDermotts was American Ambassador to Britain.

The workshop was followed by a full candlelit dinner in The Strand.

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