Labour ‘following through’ on its promise to Derry

Conal McFeely (far right) with Mike Amesbury, Mike Kane and Alison Stoecker.
Conal McFeely (far right) with Mike Amesbury, Mike Kane and Alison Stoecker.

The British Labour Party wants the Northern Ireland Office to produce a timeline on new university development and the opening of a medical school on Derry’s riverfront.

The call, which was made in the House of Commons by the Shadow Employment Minister, Mike Amesbury MP, on Wednesday (July 3), follows a private visit by senior Labour parliamentarians to the North West last month.

Conal McFeely, of Creggan Enterprises, who hosted the delegation at Ráth Mór, said Labour had made a commitment to help Derry and were now following through on that promise.

Mr McFeely said: “We welcome the contribution by Mr Amesbury during Parliamentary Questions in which he reflected our concerns about the scale and scope of the Derry/Strabane City Deal compared to Belfast’s. We also welcome his comments about the need for a timeline for a riverside university and medical hub. We were completely unimpressed, however, by the inability of the office of the Secretary of State to provide any clarity on either of Mr Amesbury’s questions.

“The Labour delegation told us that, during their visit to Derry, they had been presented with a ‘compelling case for the establishment of an independent university and the prosperity and regeneration it could bring to the city’. And we look forward to continuing our engagement with them to ensure this can and will happen.”

During their visit to Ráth Mór, the Labour delegation - which included MPs Mike Amesbury and Shadow Schools Minister Mike Kane, and Alison Stoecker, from the Leader’s Office - took part in an extended round-table meeting with groups from the Creggan area. There were representatives present from Creggan Enterprises, Community Foundation NI, Unheard Voices, Lifehack, Hive Studios, Guildhall Press, Derry University Group, Sean Dolan’s GAC, the Forge, and Ráth Mór Over-50s.

While in the North West, the delegation also visited Oakgrove PS, the Harbour Museum to meet with Council officials, the Nerve Centre, the Colmcille Pipe Band, Charlie Nash’s Ring ABC, and Jobby Crossan’s sports shop, where Mike Kane MP got to meet a former captain of his beloved Manchester City.

The visitors also made a trip to Grianan and St Patrick’s Well, while Mike Kane met with the organisers of the Building Bridges Summer School at Ráth Mór, where he played the flute and bagpipes as part of a traditional music session.

Conal McFeely said it was very timely that Labour was now visiting Derry and that he was looking forward to their return in the near feature.

“We have made them aware of the very significant challenges faced by the community, particularly at this very uncertain time in relation to Brexit and its impact on Derry,” he said. “As a result of the visit, our community concerns about Brexit, the lack of a university, poor infrastructure, deprivation and unemployment, are now being raised at Westminster.”