Magee University expansion campaign: SDLP MLA says Executive needs to refocus

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey. (2307C39a)
Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey. (2307C39a)

SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesperson Pat Ramsey has expressed concern following confirmation from the Universities Minister this morning that he and his officials have never been asked to report to the Executive on the progress of Magee expansion and have never been asked to specifically drive the commitment of expansion.

Mr Ramsey spoke following an Employment and Learning Committee meeting this morning, the first since the Minister made comments ‘shelving’ the expansion of Magee

The Foyle MLA said: “I was quite surprised by the Minister’s forthrightness this morning when I questioned him about commitments to seeing Magee expanded as laid out in the One Plan for the City. Dr Farry was very clear that he has never been asked to report on or deliver - as part of the One Plan or Programme for Government, expansion of the Derry campus.

The Minister referred to the commitment in the Programme for Government to see Magee expanded as non-existent, and that plans to see Magee grow are simply ‘an aspiration’.

I put it to the Minister that delivering on Magee is not just a decision solely for him but that there has to be Executive focus and drive on the project and all Ministers who have a strategic vision for the City must ensure that they are not just talking about support for the project, but are actually encouraging progress by creating circumstances where it can be delivered.

The Executive needs to refocus on this priority for the economic future of Derry and the wider North-West. A situation arising whereby in a number of months the Employment and Learning Minister repeating that he has never been asked to report on or deliver any commitment on Magee by the Executive would be totally unacceptable and I would call on relevant Ministers on the Executive to release documentation to the public that shows they are seeking to deliver circumstances and drive for the Magee project – we must have clarity that all is being done to deliver on this most crucial of public projects.”