Foyle Assembly candidate Eamonn McCann has said that a recent funding announcement for university provision in Belfast is in stark contrast to Derry’s “second-class status” by the political establishment.
People Before Profit candidate Mr McCann was speaking after Queen’s University announced a £50m investment to secure its status as a “global leader in education and research.”
Mr McCann said: “How much more evidence do we need that the neglect of Magee and of Derry will continue until there is drastic change in the organisation of the university sector and in the extent to which Derry issues generally are taken seriously.
“Both of the North’s universities - Queen’s and Ulster University - are now set for significant expansion in Belfast while all Magee gets is annual promises and no action.
“Given what’s happened over the years, the case for a separate university - the University of Derry - grows ever stronger.
“The expansion of Queen’s and Ulster University in Belfast is not being driven by educational or social factors. If educational and social considerations counted, the transfer of Irish History from Derry to Coleraine would never have been contemplated. That move in particular made no educational sense whatever and shouldn’t have been allowed to happen without at least an almighty row.”
Mr McCann said that whatever arguments were made about the benefits across Northern Ireland, the impact was likely to be lopsided.
“All past experience suggests that any economic growth which occurs won’t be centred in Derry,” he said, adding:
“The Queen’s announcement also confirms the extent to which our existing universities are now governed by business rather that educational or social considerations. If educational and social factors were decisive, Magee would have been top of the list for expansion, instead of lagging behind and being the subject of successive cut-backs.
“Many long-time university campaigners in Derry have now come to the conclusion that the facilities which already exist in Derry - primarily Magee and Ebrington - should be handed over to a new North West-based body which would take into account both the needs of education and the crying need of this region.
“This alternative way forward will be vigorously pursued if People Before Profit wins a Derry seat on May 5.”