OPINION: Colum Eastwood MP asks Boris Johnson and Michéal Martin to draw up roadmap for new Derry university
For more than half a century the people of Derry have campaigned for a university in our city.
It was one of the early demands of a fledgling civil rights movement and more than 55 years later it remains one of the outstanding objectives. The image of John Hume, Albert Anderson and Eddie McAteer on the steps of Stormont in 1965, with a motorcade of people from this city is now written into Derry’s DNA.
Those in authority in the Executive need to understand that this campaign will not stop. This isn’t about status or symbolism, it is about providing people in our city with the opportunity to study, work and create a life for themselves in their hometown. It is about ending the decades long policy of raising our young people for export.
Derry is the fifth largest city on this island and is similar in size to Limerick which has a vibrant and research driven university attracting 17,000 students, thousands of whom are from beyond these shores. It attracts investment to the region and provides a world leading learning institution on the doorstep of people locally who wish to stay. Derry deserves just as much.
The SDLP worked closely with the Irish Government on establishing the Shared Island Unit within the Department of the Taoiseach. We have willing partners across the island working on practical projects that improve the lives and life chances of people here. This isn’t just rhetoric it has been backed up with €500 Million for projects in the North.
I have asked both the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to come together and lay out a joint roadmap with a clear timeframe on how they will jointly fund a new university in the city. Through cooperation we can transform this city. We can maximise opportunities for our people and take advantage of our emerging position as a bridge between the EU and Britain.
We need to demand more from our Executive and our political leaders. This city needs guarantees about investment in our future. 56 years on from Lockwood, we are not going to be marched to the top of the hill to be let down by government again.
By SDLP Leader, Foyle MP Colum Eastwood