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Minister Simon Harris TD visits Atlantic Technological University’s Killybegs campus

Simon Harris, TD., Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science during visit to ATU, Killybegs with President of ATU, Dr Orla Flyn.

Minister Simon Harris TD visits ATU Killybegs Campus

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) welcomed Minister Simon Harris TD today, Monday 22 January for a tour of the university’s Killybegs campus, showcasing projects that promise to reshape Donegal’s marine and educational landscape.

After receiving a tour of the campus, Minister Harris was shown plans of the new Ocean Innovation Centre, an initiative poised to become a flagship rural regeneration stimulus. Designed to catalyse substantial change, this centre is set to develop into a vibrant blue economy hub, fostering enterprise, innovation, applied research, commercialisation, and learning. Currently in the sketch design stage, the project aims to submit planning permission in the coming months.

The project is being part-funded by ATU in collaboration with the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF). The project has received substantial support for the design stages.

Speaking during his visit to ATU’s Killybegs based campus, Minister Simon Harris said:

“It’s been inspiring to visit both the Killybegs and Letterkenny ATU campuses today where innovation and hard graft are coming together to create something very special in higher education. From plans to create a ground-breaking Ocean Innovation Hub, as well as the development a much-needed electrical apprenticeship facility, and the ongoing upgrade of all the facilities in Killybegs, it is clear that the region has embraced the opportunities that having its own university can bring. I was also fortunate to see what can be done in the area of renewable energy with the new biomass heat centre at the Letterkenny campus. ATU is showing once again that it is at the cutting-edge of innovation and creativity, while also considering and addressing the needs of the entire country.”


Simon Harris, TD., Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science during visit to ATU, Killybegs with President of ATU, Dr Orla Flyn.

Welcoming the Minister, President of ATU, Dr Orla Flynn thanked Minister Harris for his visit to the Killybegs campus;

“Today, we had the privilege of showcasing to Minister Simon Harris the innovative projects and new apprenticeship plans that will not only reshape Donegal’s marine and educational landscape but also contribute significantly to the future of Europe’s marine industry. Together with regional stakeholders, we look forward to creating a vibrant blue economy hub that will leave a lasting impact on our community and beyond.”

During his visit Minister Simon Harris was also shown the commencement of the Electrical Apprenticeship Expansion project, a vital addition to the Higher Education Authority’s Apprenticeship Expansion program 2023. The project is a strategic move to address the evolving needs of Ireland’s workforce. The initiative includes the conversion of the Tourism building into an Electrical apprenticeship facility, accommodating 18 additional blocks of phase 4 & 6 Apprenticeships. With funding from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, the works are scheduled to be completed by August 2024.

In conjunction with the Electrical Apprenticeship Expansion works, Phase 3c Refurbishment Works were unveiled during Minister Harris’s visit. This program aims to upgrade existing buildings on the ATU Killybegs Campus to meet modern standards, maximising capacity and utilisation. Supported by HEA/DFHERIS funding through phases 1, 2 & 3a, the ongoing refurbishment includes works on the Main Building, Millennium Building, Tourism Building, and wider site improvements.


Seated with Simon Harris, TD., Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science during visit to ATU, Killybegs L-R: Mary Daly, Retired Head of Estates at ATU Donegal; Paul Hannigan, Head of College ATU Donegal; Dr Orla Flyn, President of ATU and Henry McGarvey, ATU VP for Finance and Corporate Services; Joined by staff and local public representatives.

On the final leg of his tour of the campus, Karl Bonner, cluster manager, gave Minister Harris an update on the Killybegs Marine Cluster, one of twelve clusters on the island of Ireland established as part of Enterprise Ireland’s National Cluster Programme and is the only Cluster dedicated to the Blue Economy.

Minister Simon Harris TD’s visit to ATU’s Killybegs campus was followed by a visit to the Letterkenny campus where he officially launched the university’s new Biomass centre.

Aidan Haughey
ATU Communications Manager /
Bainisteoir Cumarsáide OTA
Ollscoil Teicneolaíochta an Atlantaigh (OTA), Éire
Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Ireland
Tel: +353 86 086 6913