Garvan O’Doherty says developing ‘Hume University’ as an independent third level institution would deliver a fitting legacy

Derry businessman Garvan O’Doherty has said Magee College should be renamed ‘Hume University’ in memory of the late John Hume .

Friday, 7th August 2020, 4:32 pm
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 4:34 pm
John Hume with Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and Bill Clinton at Magee College in 2010.

He said the only debate should be on whether the institution should be called ‘John Hume University’ or ‘Hume University’ in order to honour both the peacemaker and his wife Pat.

“As well as owing a great debt to John we owe a great debt to his wife and children. John gave his life for all of us and they had to sacrifice his time to allow him to achieve what was one of the most historic events in Irish history.

“We can’t let this moment go. He deserves this plaudit and I think the family deserve it as well,” said Mr. O’Doherty.

Before his electoral breakthrough in 1969, Mr. Hume chaired the University for Derry Action Campaign (UDAC) and famously co-ordinated the huge motorcade to Stormont on February 18, 1965, to demand a second full university be established in the city.

“We have been arguing for over 50 years for a university. He gave 50 years of his life to give us peace and we need to stop prevaricating. There is too much talk and not enough action,” said Mr. O’Doherty.

The businessman believes the relatively small size of Magee for Ireland’s fourth city, and the acceleration of remote learning due to COVID-19, can be turned to advantage.

“We are in a very invidious position because a lot of university models are going to fail now because their fixed costs are too high. So we could, with the changes in the world, based on COVID, around virtual education, create one of the most unique models that could be at the forefront of changes in trends at universities and how they operate, because we don’t have the fixed costs that others are going to crumble under.

“We actually could use the last 50 years of no progress to actually create a university. It’s a very exciting time. We could be at the forefront of creating a university as John was in creating peace and replicate his pioneer spirit,” he said.

John Hume's maiden speech at Westminster June 28, 1983But the businessman pulls no punches when giving his view on who should be at the helm of developing third level education in Derry.

“We don’t want Ulster University to do anything except get out of town,” he said, claiming: “They have failed to expand Magee but more importantly they have failed to give John a proper legacy and my view is that giving John a chair is an insult to the man.”