By Darcy MacRae |
Nov. 22, 2010
There has long been a special connection between Newfoundland and Labrador and the Republic of Ireland, a relationship that has helped foster economic, social and educational linkages for decades.
The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland is a very active participant in such partnerships, as was evident by a recent visit to MI of a delegation from a prominent Irish post-secondary institution.
The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) recently sent representatives to the Marine Institute, on the heels of a freshly signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the institutions. Among the visitors from Ireland was Commander Martin Counihan, associate head of NMCI, who gave a glowing review of the Marine Institute and the budding relationship between MI and the National Maritime College of Ireland.
“The Marine Institute is the premier marine institution in all of Canada, and Canada is a very big country,” Cmdr. Counihan said. “This was an important visit because it confirmed the partnership between MI and NMCI. We both want to further develop this partnership so there are many benefits for both parties. Research and training are two key elements we would like to move forward with.”
Cmdr. Counihan pointed out that there are many similarities between the Marine Institute and the National Maritime College of Ireland. Both facilities house some of the most modern training tools in the world, such as a wide array of bridge simulators. NMCI also makes use of an engine room simulator used to train mariners in watch keeping and process management, and like MI offers world-class instruction in survival training and firefighting.
“There are obviously several areas of common interest between MI and NMCI, which is one reason there is so much potential for future partnerships,” said Dr. Peter Fisher, head of Academic and Student Affairs, Marine Institute. “We are both interested in building linkages between the institutions, particularly when it comes to simulation, ROV training and academic programs.”
The Irish delegation met with the Marine Institute’s school heads, centre directors and individual instructors during its visit to MI. Meetings were also held with Marine Institute executive director Glenn Blackwood, as well as with Dr. Fisher.
Cmdr. Counihan said the talks were productive and helped him map out a plan of how he would like to see the relationship between NMCI and MI develop.
“We have a world-class facility and we have a lot of room to grow. From an education and training point of view, the maritime sector in Ireland is going to expand hugely in the future and we want to play a big role in this,” he said. “MI is already a world leader in the maritime industry and in the delivery of training and we would like to tap into the expertise here. We feel there is a lot to be learned from each other and if we can develop a partnership model, it would be very important for the future of both institutions.”
He added that the relationship between the Marine Institute and the National Maritime College of Ireland is possible in part because of the close ties between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador. He said this relationship is as strong today as it has ever been and remains a very distinctive partnership.