Sign off on med school now, urge NW politicians

Politicians across the NW have joined forces to urge the Stormont Executive to sign off on a medical school for Derry.
The NI Executive meets at Stormont.The NI Executive meets at Stormont.
The NI Executive meets at Stormont.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Michaela Boyle and other elected representatives from across the district have co-signed a letter sent to First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

In the letter, the local politicians also urge the powersharing Executive to match funding for the £105 million Derry/Strabane City Deal.

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The letter is signed by the region’s two MPs, its five MLAs, all members of the Council and Elisha McCallion, who was recently elected to the Seanad in Dublin.

The letter highlights, in particular, the need for a positive decision on the Graduate Entry Medical School to ensure a 2021 student intake.

Senator McCallion told the ‘Journal’ last night: “There was a great deal of hope and expectation in the north west when we secured the record funding of £105m City Deal/Future Fund from the British government in 2019, particularly in terms of the impact this funding would have on the establishment of a medical school at Magee.

“This expectation increased with the welcome commitment in the New Decade/New Approach document which pledged match funding for the north west for infrastructure, tourism and regeneration projects, as well as the medical school and wider expansion of Magee.

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“It is now vitally important these commitments are delivered on, that match funding is put in place by the Executive and that the approval is given to the medical school as a matter of urgency so that the first students can begin their studies in September 2021.

“I welcome that this letter has received support from all political parties.

“There is one unanimous voice coming from the people of this city and the wider north west calling for this vital project to get the green light and for the delivery of the promised match funding to help the economic regeneration of the region.

“The responsibility to approve the medical school rests ultimately with the Health Minister and we are calling on the leaders of the Executive to work with their ministerial colleagues to make sure this essential project is delivered and funding put in place to continue to support the economic development of the north west.”

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Meanwhile, local SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin has tabled a priority question in the Assembly regarding the medical school.

She has asked the ministers for health, economy and finance whether they and their departments have approved the business case and all necessary resource allocations to enable the med school to open next year and, if not, why not.