A cross-party delegation of local politicians is seeking a meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers in a bid to secure a commitment from government to the plans to expand Derry’s Magee campus.
Members of the city’s parliamentary grouping met today at the request of the Mayor, Councillor Brenda Stevenson, to agree a joint position in response to the shock decision by the Minister for Education and Learning, Stephen Farry, to delay development plans for the University of Ulster at Magee.
The meeting was attended by the Town Clerk and Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor, and a cross-party group of local MLAS and representatives from local Constituency offices – including Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan, and local MLAs Raymond McCartney, Colum Eastwood, Pat Ramsey and William Hay.
Speaking after the meeting, Mayor Stevenson described the meeting as extremely positive in terms of driving the campaign forward. And she stressed that local parties will continue to work alongside Magee representatives on the Strategy Board in building a compelling case for the expansion plans at government level.
Cllr Stevenson said there was general consensus among all local parties that an urgent meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers was needed to allow the city stakeholders to underline the importance of the expansion plan going ahead so the city can move forward with the One Plan and the economic, physical and social opportunities for regeneration that it has been tasked to deliver.
“I think today’s meeting was extremely important in identifying a clear cross-party strategy in driving forward the case for Magee expansion,” she declared.
“Everyone at the table agrees that the expansion of Magee is a key priority for the city and one of the Strategy Board’s key objectives moving forward to deliver on the One Plan.
“The economy of this city depends on the education of our young people, and with the biggest youth population under the age of 25 in Europe we are failing to make provision for their needs in terms of skills and education. This will undoubtedly continue to have devastating impact on the economic success of the region as a whole.
“We intend to request a meeting now with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to secure a clear commitment to the expansion of the university as a whole,” she said.
She concluded that the meeting must be arranged as a matter of urgency.