An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., is in Galway today (9th June) to open the new €50 million headquarters of the Marine Institute at Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway. The impressive 11,000 square meter building, housing the majority of the Marine Institute’s 200 strong staff, was designed by an award-winning Office of Public Works (OPW) team of architects. It features 54 scientific laboratories, a unique crescent-shaped office facility and a 150-seat auditorium for national and international marine science conferences as well as a new modern childcare centre.
The Taoiseach said: "The Marine Institute has already established an international reputation for carrying out world-class research, and the development of these new laboratory facilities will go even further in assisting our marine researchers who have as their vision 'a thriving maritime economy in sympathy with the ecosystem'. The building itself is a symbol of that vision in its use of sustainable materials, its energy efficiency, and design. This facility is a tangible demonstration of the great progress that has been made in achieving the Government's commitment to establish a world-class capability in marine research and development in Ireland."
The new building will greatly assist the implementation of Sea Change - the new National Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 - 2013, which is due to be announced shortly as part of the government’s national science plan. The strategy aims to apply science, research and innovation to growing opportunities in the marine sector, including renewable energies from wave and tidal power, international markets for seafood, the commercial application of marine technology in environmental monitoring, and the discovery of new medicines and compounds in marine animals and plants. It demonstrates that, given the right development policies and drive, the economic return from Ireland’s marine sector could be increased from €3 billion per annum at present to €4.5 billion within a decade.
“Equipped with this world-class facility and supported by national programmes to fund the essential innovation and development required for us to successfully compete in the global knowledge-driven economy, Ireland is now poised to unlock the potential of our 220 million acre marine resource,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, who has lead the Marine Institute as CEO since 1994, “The sea provides jobs to some 44,000 people and is a major source of opportunity for Ireland in terms of employment and economic growth. This new facility, combined with the two national research vessels, our own expert staff and those of our partners in the third level, state agency and private sectors, give Ireland the tools to realise that potential.”
Following the official opening, a monster “Pirate Party” and Family Fun Day will take place on Sunday 11th June to celebrate World Ocean Day and uncover some of the treasures beneath Ireland’s 220 million acres of undersea territory. The event is part of celebrations right across the globe to highlight awareness of our oceans and, in particular, is twinned with the World Oceans Festival in Tramore, where the Marine Institute is sponsoring a Guinness Book of Records sandcastle-building competition. The Pirate Party casts off at 11.00 am and finishes at 5.00 pm in the new building in Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway. Admission is free.
The Marine Institute was created under the Marine Institute Act in 1991 to “undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist” in the development of marine research and development in Ireland. Since its early days in Harcourt Street Dublin, it has grown into an internationally respected science body with almost 200 staff, two purpose-built vessels, a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo, regional port facilities and now a brand new headquarters and laboratory facility at Oranmore, on the shore of Galway Bay.