Labour peer, Andrew Adonis, expressed his frustration at there still being no ‘University of Derry’, and at the sub-par road and rail connections into and out of Ireland’s fourth city, during a flying visit to Derry on Friday.
The former Labour minister of transport and education was in the city to campaign for a so-called second ‘People’s Vote’ that would allow citizens of Britain and the North have a final say on any forthcoming Brexit deal.
A few week’s ago the one-time Tony Blair confidante, who now takes the title Lord Adonis in the British House of Lords, pulled no punches in declaring that the neglect of Derry over the course of a century of unionist and direct government misrule from London had been “a real stain on the reputation of the UK.”
He has said he had been appalled at what he had learned about the historic neglect of Derry. During a visit to the Guildhall on Friday, Mr. Adonis, did not row back on these sentiments but he did say he was delighted to see the progess that was being made.
“Derry has been transformed. The last time I was here I was at what was the [Ebrington] barracks, which has now been converted into restaurants and coffee shops,” he remarked.
“Who would want to turn the clock back on any of that?” he asked.
In late August Mr. Adonis ruffled unionist feathers by lambasting how the establishment of Craigavon, the reduction of the railways to the west, the concentration of industry around Belfast, and the establishment of a second university in Coleraine, under the Matthew (1963), Benson (1963), Wilson (1965) and Lockwood (1965) reports respectively, had together led to the chronic underdevelopment of Derry.
Now he believes more needs to be done to redress these historic wrongs.
“Not enough progress has been made,” he declared.
“Why isn’t there a university in Derry? Why does it take all day to get from Belfast to Derry by train?
“Why is there a road that becomes a single track and is very dangerous, halfway across. These are big, real issues that affect ordinary people in Derry. They want them sorted out,” he added.
Mr. Adonis said he believed it was in the interests of the people of the North to remain in the European Union, which, he accepted, had been seen as an honest broker.
“If we spend the next 20 years arguing about Europe and a new wave of identity politics and whether or not we’re going to be having new border patrols, then that’s going to turn the clock back, and we’re not going to address any of this,” he said.