Doubt has been cast on the Executive’s commitment to implementing Derry’s regeneration plan, a local lobby group has said.
The University for Derry (U4D) group has said that it is fearful for the future of the plan after the Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry’s stated in the Assembly that the Magee campus expansion targets specified in the One Plan “appear ambitious”.
Responding to an Assembly Question from Derry MLA Colum Eastwood, Dr Farry said: “Bearing in mind the competing calls on public funds and the legitimate demands for additional places at other locations across Northern Ireland, the aspiration to have 9,400 full-time equivalents at Magee by 2020 would appear ambitious.”
U4D says the expansion of university provision in Derry is “the core element” of the One Plan. Padraig Canavan, chair of U4D, said it was disgraceful” that Executive and Assembly do not recognise the necessity for the plan’s implementation.
“We are bitterly disappointed by the statement from the Employment and Learning Minister. Dr Farry has evidently no confidence that his colleagues on the Executive are fully signed-up to the One Plan. U4D reiterates once again that if the Assembly is genuinely committed to the economic regeneration of Derry-Londonderry then it must put resources behind the implementation of the One Plan and, most important of all, the expansion of university provision in the city.”
Mr Canavan said that while the City of Culture designation was “great”, he said much more is needed to provide the necessary economic regeneration of the city. “Expanding the university is the single most important ingredient required to make Derry an economically successful city. It is absolutely tragic and disgraceful if that reality and necessity is not also recognised by the Executive and the Assembly,” he added.