Bishop Mehaffey enters Magee debate

The Magee campus of the University of Ulster
The Magee campus of the University of Ulster

The retired Bishop of Derry, Right Rev. Dr James Mehaffey has challenged political leaders to release the money needed to create thousands of extra student places at Magee College.

Calling on Derry City Council, the Stormont Executive and the university itself to do more, Bishop Mehaffey said for the city and the university to develop, Magee needed at least 10,000 student places.

Stating that he was deeply concerned about the lack of progress on the matter, Dr Mehaffey said he hoped the people of the city would be be treated with fairness and that justice will be done and be seen to be done.

“Recent discussion has centered on the question of additional places at Magee - either the hoped for 500 or in fact half that number,” the Bishop commented. “This is an important discussion but it misses the key issue which is that the future development of Magee will depend on student numbers growing to at least 10,000.

“In recent years we have heard of various plans for the social and economic renewal of the city. The crucial condition which will make a radical difference is the development of Magee as a dynamic and rapidly expanding university.

At present I feel a deep sense of concern about the way things are shaping up and I believe that many share my concern.

What is needed is a clear and united call from the people of this city. We look to Derry City Council to give strong leadership and to enlist the support of the various economic and social groups who want to see this city and its university grow and prosper.Two key groups need to be convinced - the Stormont Executive and the University of Ulster.

No doubt we shall be told that it is an impossible ideal in the present economic climate. It will require substantial funding but experience tells us that politicians and governments can find the money if there is a will to do so.

My hope is that the people of this city will be treated with fairness and that justice will be done and seen to be done.