Video: Willie Hay ‘seriously worried’ about lack of progress on medical school

The DUP’s Willie Hay has said he is ‘seriously worried’ about the apparent lack of progess on a Medical School at Magee.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 4:44 pm

The ex-Derry Mayor, who takes the title Lord Hay of Ballyore, said: “This goes back to the early 1960s and the whole expansion of the university in the city of Londonderry.

“A strange situation seems to be developing now around the medical school, which is really part of the wider City Deal. We are continually being told that the business plan is complete, we are moving forward, and of course there has to be a year before the intake of students can begin to come into the university.

“However, although the meetings are continuing, I am being told that a local Minister needs to be in place to take this issue forward. That seriously worries me because of the fact that it is part of the wider City Deal.”

Malcolm Bruce, or Lord Bruce of Bennachie, a Liberal Democrat peer, offered his support, stating: “Regarding the medical school in Derry/Londonderry, it would be good if we could establish that there is freedom to pursue this idea. Many of us have engaged in different ways. The university tells me that it is in a position to do this, if it is possible to do it. It would still be matter of getting its hands on the money—we know that—but it has a building and a clear plan and it feels able to press ahead. It is always good to see something that takes us forward, rather than leaving us stagnating.”

On the separate but related matter of whether or not a stand-alone university should be established in Derry Ian Duncan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said that was a matter for any institution that came forward with a proposal.

John Alderdice, the former Alliance Party leader, or Lord Alderdice, as he is now known, said: “I pointed out that historically the placement of the university in our second city of Derry is a sensitive political issue and that it is not just a matter of economics or even of education.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary said: “The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, asked about the founding of a university in Derry/Londonderry. The answer, in truth, is that it rests with the institution itself to put forward the case.

“To date, none has done so. If the university is indeed in such a position it should do just that and put together its case to initiate the proceedings, because nothing can happen until that has been completed.

“It is a matter of devolved authority but, none the less, the first step will necessarily be taking forward the examination of the business case for the initiation of the establishment of a university.”