The Minister for Employment and Learning today informed the NI Assembly the Magee business case was being examined “assiduously” and that the project was moving toward its “final stages.”
Responding to a question from SDLP MLA for Foyle Mr Gerard Diver, the Minister did not commit to any time frame, simply stating that the review of the business case was ongoing.
SDLP party spokesperson on employment and learning matters Mr Diver, said that it was: “Disappointing the department cannot commit to a time line in terms of moving the project forward. While I understand department officials must undertake due diligence of the revised business case, I would hope this examination will take less time than it did to study the original submission. Considering this Assembly mandate is closing fast, I also asked if the file would be expedited.
“We are continually seeing timelines pushed further and further back. We must strive to ensure that the local university is developed in time for the next generation of students, not their children or grandchildren.
“This is why I sought and received from the Minister an assurance that the same officials remain with the Magee file. Any change of personnel would only add to further delays for our university project.
“Therefore I welcome the fact that the same set of officials will bring continuity to the project.”
Responding to the Ministers comments that the Magee issue was a problem with funding not commitment, Mr. Diver said: “I have certain sympathy with the Ministers position. He didn’t visit huge budget cuts upon his department.
“That said a different way must be found come May and the election. Higher education and the hopes, ambitions and indeed even family relationships, which change when children are forced to travel vast distances to study, cannot be reliant on the economic illiteracy which has characterised this SF/DUP Executive.”