Derry university a last unrealised demand from civil rights, declares SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin

Sinéad McLaughlin says the delivery of a university for Derry is the only demand of the civil rights campaign yet to be realised.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 3:59 pm

The SDLP MLA made the remark during a debate on Budget 2021/22 in the Assembly on Tuesday.

“Making Derry a proper university city was one of the demands of the civil rights movement over 50 years ago.

“It is perhaps the only demand of the civil rights movement that has yet to be delivered. Despite 14 years of joint leadership by Sinn Féin and the DUP, that demand has yet to be delivered,” said the Foyle SDLP MLA.

Sinéad McLaughlin

She said it was ‘crystal-clear’ that expanding higher education would be good for the local economy.

“If we had an evidence-led Government, the Finance Minister would put far more resources into skills and would recognise the result of holding down the size of our university sector.

“The result is not only economic harm but social harm: the dislocation of families, the loss of skills and the impact on innovation and invention, our cultural and arts sectors, civic life, wages, poverty and productivity. The list goes on.”

But the Finance Minister Conor Murphy, in response to these points, said: “I have been about here for so long that I can remember the portfolios that SDLP Ministers once held. They held the Department of Finance and the Department for Employment and Learning portfolios at the same time. DEL had responsibility for further and higher education. The fact that the SDLP ran both those Departments meant that it had the possibility of doing something with the university in Derry, had it wanted to.”