UCD to review future of research farm

THE retention of the University College Dublin (UCD) research farm at Lyons Estate in Straffan, Co Kildare, is being sought following confirmation that the college authorities are reviewing its future.

Fine Gael Senator Ulick Burke urged Education Minister Mary Hanafin to insist on the retention of the estate for agricultural research and development.

He told the Seanad that research departments make serious practical contributions to the development of farming.

“If we allow agricultural research decline at UCD, we will no longer have a college providing a pure agriculture degree. UCD is the only university here providing such a degree.

“If we allow the UCD agriculture degree to become purely theoretic with no research, practical or ‘on the ground’ element, we will have nothing more than a science degree in the agriculture area. That would be a great failure,” he said.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science Brian Lenihan said the college authorities are free to dispose of lands and property acquired prior to the passing of the Universities Act 1997 without recourse to the Minister for Education and Science.

As the Lyons Estate, which belongs to UCD, an autonomous body, was acquired in the 1960s, the college authorities are free to do what they want with it.

Mr Lenihan said any decision to dispose of part or all of Lyons Estate will be made when the findings of the review group have been approved by the governing authority.

The brief for the review body will require it to consider the need for the university to retain access to suitable field facilities for agriculture and veterinary science on a continuing basis, Mr Lenihan said.

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