Med school project likely to be delayed: Durkan

Mark H Durkan.Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.
A local MLA believes plans to locate a medical school in Derry look likely to be delayed.

Mark H Durkan, of the SDLP, was speaking after Stormont’s top civil servant said it was unclear what decisions departments here can make without ministers.

Earlier this week, the High Court ruled that civil servants acted above their station in granting approval for a major incinerator on the outskirts of Belfast.

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Mark H Durkan believes this decision will impact on the delivery of the medical school project.

“The SDLP has consistently warned both the DUP and Sinn Fein that failure to get the Assembly back up and running could compromise the delivery of much needed projects such as the medical school,” he said.

“Unfortunately, our fears look likely now to materialise. While the SDLP has worked with Ulster University to campaign to ensure this project goes ahead, given the ruling this week in relation to the Hightown Incinerator, which says that civil servants cannot make decisions without ministers, it would appear that the delivery of this transformational medical school looks to be delayed.

“Politicians can jump up and down about equality and respect but the fact remains that projects such as these are key drivers for finally delivering economica equality West of the Bann. And the reason we are unlikely to have delivery is simple - because there is no Assembly. The DUP and Sinn Fein have to full responsibility for their failure.”

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Meanwhile, the head of the North’s Health Department, Richard Pengelly, has told a local SDLP councillor that any final decision as regards financial support for the medical school proposal will, “given its cross-cutting nature”, require both Ministerial and Executive agreement.

In his letter, seen by the ‘Journal’, Mr. Pengelly also indicates that Ulster University is still working on issues arising from a business case it submitted to the Department in September of last year.