Sinn Fein Westminster candidate Gearóid Ó hEára has welcomed news that the revised business case for expansion of the Magee campus will be on the desk of the DEL minister Stephen Farry in the next couple of weeks. He also outlined how as MP he would work to maintain momentum on the expansion project in the coming period:
“Following a series of discussions in the last few days I welcome the fact that the revised business case, which has been scrutinised by economists on behalf of the DEL minister and amended accordingly by staff from ILEX, will be on the minister’s desk in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“This is the culmination of two years solid work by many people committed to Magee expansion including a dedicated sub-group within Sinn Fein led by Maeve McLaughlin MLA and Councillor Mickey Cooper who have devoted untold energy to the project.
“Maeve’s insistence that nothing would progress until such time as a proper business case was developed has been validated. It was the correct call which put the necessary pressure on the DEL minister to commit to expansion if the business case meets the required criteria.”
Mr. Ó hEára added: “If the people of Foyle give me the mandate at Thursday’s election, top of my agenda in my first weeks as MP, will be to arrange for a delegation of key stakeholders from the city to meet the DEL minister to impress on him the need to act urgently on the basis of what I believe is a robust and comprehensive business case.
“Given the fact that the resources and expertise of the Ulster University will be required for expansion to become a reality, I intend to invite the new Vice-chancellor to come to the Strategy Board and give an outline of how he sees the project being brought to fruition and what part Magee itself will play to ensure its success.
“I realise that the new Vice Chancellor does not come into position until June but I am informed that he is well aware of the depth of feeling on the issue in this city. By addressing the Strategy Board at the earliest opportunity he will be able to outline the key steps he feels are required to progress the project.
“I’m sure the Strategy Board will also be interested to hear what steps are being taken to ensure the Magee campus is ready to accommodate the increase in MaSN students which is envisaged in the business case. It is essential that measures are in place to attract adequate numbers of graduates in STEM and other subjects to attract Foreign Direct Investment and increase benefits to indigenous business in the city and region and reinvigorate the local economy.
“I will also seek an early meeting with the Ministerial sub-Group so that they are in no doubt about the unity of purpose which exists in all stakeholders in this city not just around expansion of Magee but also the need for action on other infrastructure projects necessary to redress the historical neglect that this region was subjected to.”