Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1969 Provisional Council 40th reunion lunch

I hosted a lunch today at 22 Clyde Rd for the members of the 1969 Provisional Council - Finbar Callanan, Ron Cox, Thomas Desmond, Donal Downes, Jim Dooge, Martin Hally, Bryan Hardwick, Patrick Hennigan, Jimmy Martin, Kevin Madden, Colm McLoughlin, Risteard O'Colmain, Vincent O'Doherty, Hugh Pollock, Brian Tansey and James Walsh.   Martin Lowery,  PJ Rudden,  and John Power attended with me to represent Engineers Ireland.

As Prof Dooge reminded us,  the Civil Engineers Society in Ireland, (later renamed the Institution of Civil Engineers in Ireland) was established in 1835,  with its chief aim to promote the "acquisition of knowledge".  In 1928,   the Cumann na Ninnealtoiri was founded,  to improve and advance the status and remuneration of qualified members of the engineering profession.  The two organisations then ran in parallel,  and it was not unusual for some Engineers to in fact be members of both organisations.

In 1968,  the majority of members in both organisations approved exploratory discussions to merge the two.   There were apparently however some in each organisation who believed that this might not be prudent.   Despite these reservations,  an Oireachtas subcommittee consisting of 4 Deputies - Gerry Sweetman (ex Minister Finance), Vivien De Valera (academic Chemist), Des O'Malley (whose father Donough had been an Engineer and member of the Cumann), and John O'Connell - together with 3 Senators - Eoin Ryan (a lawyer and member of FF), Ben O'Quigley (a barrister and member of FG) and Bill Sheldon (TCD Senator) - worked together to produce a report in November 1968 which established the regulatory framework to merge the two organisations.   A Provisional Council was then convened,  with representatives of both organisations and whose surviving members were at the lunch today - to give effect to the report and in particular to draw up a combined set of By-Laws for the new organisation and the profession.  Thus the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (Cumman na Ninnealtoiri) was formed by a private Act of the Oireachtas in 1969. 

One important consequence of the new organisation was granting it responsibility for the title of Chartered Engineer.  Another was to build a single organisation for all categories of Engineers in Ireland,  rather than for example the situation in the UK and USA in which different engineering organisations operate for different categories of engineering professionals.  A third was to extend membership to both technicians and student engineers.

At the time of the amalgamation,  we learnt today that the ICE in Ireland was about 900 members,  and the Cumann was about 2,200 members,  with about 600 members in common in both organisations.

Prof Dooge proposed a toast after the lunch to remember all those who since 1835 have overseen the profession of Engineering in Ireland,  to those who oversee it today,  and to those who in future will serve Engineers in Ireland.

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