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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D., at the Official Opening of Arup Consulting Engineers' New HQ, Ringsend Road Monday, 12 November, 2007 at 4pm


Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D., at the Official Opening of Arup Consulting Engineers' New HQ,  Ringsend Road Monday, 12 November, 2007 at 4pm

 I am delighted to have been invited to open Arup's new HQ here at 50 Ringsend Road.

Arup is a name to conjure with. The Sydney Opera House;  the Pompidou Centre; and "The Gherkin" in London are just a few of the breathtaking projects it has been involved in around the world.

Arup 's Irish practice is infused with the same talent for innovative engineering.  Major projects include the Sandyford to Cherrywood Luas Extension; Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport; the Trinity Science Building; the M50 Upgrade; and the Grand Canal Theatre. The firm has received many awards over the years, including for the Citibank HQ;  the new  UCC Art Gallery; and the restoration of Trim Castle.  I have had the pleasure of opening a number of projects involving Arup, including one of my own favourite buildings, the Palm House in the National Botanic Gardens.

Arup has played a major role in the expansion of the Irish construction industry over recent years. In 2006, output from the sector was €35.5 billion - which represents almost 24% of GNP. Despite some of the expected adjustments in the housing sector, construction will remain central to our economic performance. Demographic demand for housing will continue to be strong over the medium term, while investment in infrastructure under the NDP and private non-residential construction will continue to grow. While the industry will need to adjust from a period of high growth, there are plenty of reasons for confidence about future prospects.

Arup Consulting Engineers celebrated its 60th year in Ireland last year and it has grown a lot bigger over the years!  Staff numbers are now approaching 500 and you have offices in Cork and Limerick, as well as here in Dublin. This new building marks the culmination of years of hard but I have no doubt, enjoyable work - in line with Arup's ethos, which I fully agree with, that people should enjoy both their work and their leisure.

I know that the Arup ethos also includes a strong commitment to the environment and to society. The Company is involved in building the world's first eco-city, in China, with the aim of achieving, so far as possible, a carbon neutral environment.

Closer to home, environmental considerations featured strongly in Arup's work on the Health Sciences Building at the University of Limerick.  And, of course, your new HQ  here in Dublin was designed as a green building -  and the location was strongly influenced by the easy access to public transport. 

I very much welcome this focus on environmental sustainability, which is a key theme in our Programme for Government.

I am glad to see that you also take your responsibilities to the community very  seriously.  Working with GOAL,  you marked your 60th with a major development project in Uganda.  Here in Ireland, Arup contributes to the Equal Rights Access programme, which opens the door for many students at third level; and you sponsor a number of awards for students who demonstrate exceptional talent. You are also keen to integrate with the local community here, as you did during your 40 years or so in Ballsbridge. I understand that you are currently exploring ways of working together with Ringsend Technical Institute.

There is a growing awareness in Ireland of the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility. I very much welcome and encourage this.  Every business and organisation, whatever size it is, can make a difference, for the better, to the community around it, to the wider world and to the environment. And we can all make a difference as individuals as well.

As you will all know - because I understand it is required reading - your founder, the late Ove Arup set out the principles which should inform the Company in his famous Key Speech.  I was particularly struck by his distinction between two ways of looking at the pursuit of happiness. The first was to go straight for the things you want, without considering anyone else besides yourself. The second was, as he put it, "to recognise .....that our lives are inextricably mixed up with those of our fellow human beings, and that there can be no real happiness in isolation."  I think the sentiment is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it was penned in 1970. 

And this is a good opportunity to salute not just this Company and others like it but all the community activists and volunteers who have the good sense and generosity of spirit to follow Ove Arup, opt for the second way and act on it.

In closing, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to help you celebrate your move and to wish you many more years of success as one of Ireland's leading engineering consultancies.

Thank you very much for your attention.