Cowen Announces New Beginning for Irish College, Paris
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D, announced today, 20 March 2001, the nomination of seven members of the Administration Council of the Fondation Irlandaise which formally administers the Irish College in Paris. Minster Cowen expressed confidence that the new Council will ensure the development of the Irish College in Paris as a flagship Irish Cultural Centre abroad. The Government has committed IR£7 million (€8.9m) for the complete restoration and refurbishment of the College.
The seven nominees who will serve with immediate effect on the Administration Council are:
Mr Jean Bijasson
Director of an asset management company
and a property management company in Paris
Ms Jennifer Campbell
Secretary and incoming Chairperson of the Friends of the Linen Hall Library, Belfast
Very Rev. Hugh Connolly, S.T.D.
Vice President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth
Mr Seamus Crimmins
Head of Lyric fm
Mr William J Glynn
Mr Patrick MacEntee
Mr Patrick O'Connor
Ambassador of Ireland to France
The Administration Council has a mandate of four years. The present appointments are for the remainder of the current four year mandate which is due to expire in February 2003.
The Minister said that the Bureau of the Administration Council has decided to recommend to the Council the establishment of a Management Board to which will be delegated responsibility for the day-to-day running of the College and particularly its future activity as an Irish Cultural Centre. The proposed Management Board would be chaired by Mr William J. Glynn. The Minister expressed satisfaction at this decision of the Bureau.
The Minister paid tribute to those who had continued to serve on the Administration Council while formal nominations were being finalised. He said that Dr. F.J.O'Reilly, Rev. Professor Brendan Devlin, Professor Proinsias Mac Cana, Mr. Gerard Walsh and Mr. Joseph Linders made an important contribution to the Irish College during an exciting time in the College's history. Fr. Hugh Connolly and Mr. William J. Glynn who served on the previous Council have been reappointed.
The nominations coincide with the commencement of the complete restoration and refurbishment of the College which is being fully funded by the Government. The Minister recalled the announcement of £7 million (€ 8.9m) for this purpose by Minister of State Martin Cullen in May 2000. On that occasion, Minister of State Cullen, who was standing in for the Taoiseach said "The restored College is intended to be a major cultural and educational centre for the benefit of the Irish nation and to become a flagship building in the heart of Europe, providing a vision, profile and personality of Ireland".
To facilitate the work of the Administration Council and the proposed Management Board, Minister Cowen announced that the Department of Foreign Affairs will fund a position of Programme Manager, for a limited period, on a consultancy basis. The Programme Manager will work with the proposed Management Board in drafting a strategic plan for the College, programming future events and drawing up a job description for the future permanent Chief Executive who it is intended will be in place some months before the College reopens. The creation of this position will enable the Board to fulfil its remit effectively over the next year.
In making today's announcement, Minister Cowen said " As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I attach the highest priority to the further development of Ireland's cultural diplomacy. The Irish College in Paris can and should be an important centre for Irish arts and culture in France and for Irish-French cultural exchange. The putting in place of the new management structures for the Irish College in Paris and the support and encouragement of the Irish and French Governments for their task will ensure that the potential of the College will be fully realised when it reopens in Autumn 2002. "
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Irish College, Paris (a.k.a. Collège des Irlandais, Paris) is located at 5 rue des Irlandais in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Following the Reformation, colleges and seminaries where Irish Catholics could study, in particular for the priesthood, were established in several French cities, including the oldest one founded in Paris in 1578. Of these, only Paris still survives and the College is at its present location since 1769.
2. The recent role of the College has been to provide student and other short-term accommodation in Paris, and, to act as an occasional cultural centre, where both French and Irish cultures can meet.
3. Under the terms of a French Government decree adopted in February 1991, the College is now formally administered by the fourteen member Administration Council of the Fondation Irlandaise. Seven members of the Council are appointed by the Irish Ambassador to France and seven are appointed by the French authorities.
4. The Bureau of the Administration Council consists of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Council. The President and Vice President are chosen from among the nominees of the French authorities while the Secretary and Treasurer are chosen from among the nominees of the Irish Ambassador.
5. Minister of State Martin Cullen, standing in for the Taoiseach, visited the College on 3 May 2000 and announced Government funding of IR£7 million (€8.9m) for the complete restoration of the College. The College closed at the end of December 2000 and is due to reopen in Autumn 2002. The two principal functions of the restored College will be to serve as a centre for cultural activity and to provide hostel accommodation for students.