Video: Julian Smith backs medical school but refers Magee expansion to 10k to Stormont as Colum Eastwood says Derry has been waiting for full university since 1965
The Secretary of State Julian Smith has said the expansion of the student body at Magee College to 10,000 was a matter for the Executive after Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said university status was something Derry has been waiting for since 1965.
Speaking at Westminster this morning Mr. Smith said: "I'm glad my honourable friend is pleased with the work he campaigned so hard for, of the £45m [the figure is £60m, according to the NIO financial package] of ring-fenced capital for the Derry medical school and that is a great news story for Derry.
"On the issue of students, clearly for the Executive there is a decision to be made on whether to fund more student places or whether to take action in other areas."
Mr. Eastwood thanked the Secretary of State and the Tánaiste Simon Coveney for the "enormous effort they put in to make sure we had the restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA)."
He added: "Can I, in particular, welcome the commitment to the Graduate Entry Medical School at Magee in my constituency of Foyle.
"But as he will know and has already been said there are lots of commitments in this deal and there is a gap between the commitments and the financial package offer.
"One of the other commitments in the deal is to extend and expand Magee university to 10,000 students.
"We've been waiting since 1965 to see that actually achieved.
"Will the Secretary of State continue to work with the Irish Government and our newly established Executive to finally, once and for all, see a full size university in Derry?"
While Mr. Smith said this was a matter for the Executive at Stormont he said that he would support Belfast financially.
"I stand ready to support the Derry medical school in any way I can.
"And on the issue of the commitment to the financial package more generally we do stand ready, as I've said before, to support the Executive as it develops its priorities."