plea from parents on magee creche

Plea from parents on Magee creche

[An open letter to Prof Richard Barnett, Prof Anne Moran, Prof Deirdre Heenan and other senior officers of the University of Ulster]

We are a group of parents whose children are being, or have been, cared for at the University’s day nursery at Magee. With this letter we appeal to you publicly to reconsider the permanent closure of the nurseries in Summer 2013.

The University of Ulster crèches have provided high quality childcare to children of students and staff for years. We believe the closure of this important service would be a retrograde step for the University and the wider communities around your campuses. Below we provide five reasons why the University should keep the crèches open.

1. If the nurseries were closed, the University of Ulster would be the only major university on the island of Ireland without crèche facilities. Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, National University of Ireland Galway, National University of Ireland Maynooth and University College Cork ALL have crèches for their staff and students. It is notable that QUB has three crèche sites and an afterschool facility.

2. Quality childcare facilities are important assets which allow existing staff and students to juggle their family lives and their studies and careers. They help attract many future parents to UU – either to work or to study. In a recent interview with Women’s Hour, Eve Pollard, the chair of the jury on Radio 4’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Britain award, commented that one of the most important barriers to women succeeding is the lack of childcare. On-site accessible childcare also removes one of the barriers experienced by breast feeding mothers when returning to work or study.

3. The University of Ulster’s Magee campus has a long history in attracting and supporting mature students to complete their education. As noted in the education appendix to the University’s One Plan, these students are more likely to need childcare than students who have just left school. The closure of the campus nursery would affect that section disproportionately.

4. The day nurseries at UU have always provided places for children of parents who are not directly linked to the University. This has made them important community assets as well as University assets. In Northern Ireland quality childcare continues to be in short supply. We believe the University should be proud to offer these facilities and thus maintain a very important link to the communities around them. For example, many parents from large employers such as Seagate have used the services of Magee crèche. Has the University considered the option of developing the crèche as a shared facility delivered in partnership with larger employers in the city?

5. If the crèches do make a ‘loss’ as the University argues, then there are many ways to make them viable. If the University had provided appropriate management resources in recent years, it could have facilitated the introduction of a marketing strategy, a sensible pricing structure and the provision of a more flexible service that could have resulted in the crèche generating a surplus. The introduction of paid-for after-schools clubs and extra fundraising are examples of opportunities not even considered. For example, the sports centre in Magee has provided excellent after-schools facilities and summer schemes. These two services could be merged to provide a viable business case for the University or be considered for a social enterprise run by parents.

Prof. Barnett, if the University is to expand it simply cannot afford not to have crèches on its campuses. Derry in particular cannot afford to lose these nursery places.

The staff cannot afford to lose their jobs. The children cannot afford the upheaval the closures would bring.

Most of all, surely the University cannot be seen to be taking such a backwards step in the 21st century? What does that say about UU’s ethos and commitment to widening participation?

Your own website says, “the Nurseries offer a caring, warm and friendly atmosphere, emphasising the safety and wellbeing of the children cared for within the setting” ... “Every child’s welfare, development and best interests are of paramount importance to us. Therefore each child is respected, considered and treated as an individual.” Your nurseries have more than lived up to that brief. Take pride in them. Defend them. Make the services provided by the crèches a selling point for UU to recruit students and high quality academics.

We appeal to you once again to reconsider – for the sake of the children, the crèche staff, your students and staff, and the community parents, and the University as a whole.

Ciaran Cregan (current parent); Teresa Coyle (current parent); Caitriona Doherty (current parent); Julie Hassell (current parent); Ros Young (current parent); Gabrielle McGowan-Campbell (current parent); Deirdre Fullerton (Past parent); Paul Edwards (Past parent); Fergus Begley (Current parent); Fiona Begley (Current parent);

Shonagh Higgenbotham (Past parent); Shane Wilson (Past parent); Paula Mullan (Past parent); Colm Bryce (Past parent); Hilary Doherty (Past parent); Stephen Doherty (Past parent);

Cormac Newark (Past parent); Rachel Naylor (Past parent); Helen Breslin (Past parent)

A big thank you

to Holy Child P.S.

When our son Ryan leaves the Holy Child Primary School in Creggan on Friday it will bring to an end my family’s involvement with the school goes back over 25 years. All of our children, Christopher, Michelle and Darren also attended the school. I would like to take this opportunity through your newspaper to say thank you. I couldn’t begin to name everyone , the list is too long. So can I thank all the past and present members of staff and everone who helps out at the school for all your hard work and dedication to your profession over the years, and for always being there for the children and the parents. We will all miss the Christmas plays, Hallowe’en parties, fun days out and so much more. I must mention Ryan’s teacher for the last two years, Mr Bill O’Donnell who has done a fantastic job with his class. His results are there for everyone to see, thanks Mr O’Donnell. And finally a big thank you to all the staff at the Creggan Library who do a lot of work with the children and the school. They also provide a first class service which we all should be very proud of, thank you all. God bless you all and best wishes for the years ahead.

The Griffin family

2 Linsfort Drive


Columba House Flag Day thanks

The members of the Columba Community wish to thank everyone who contributed so generously to the Columba House Flag Day held on Saturday 1st June 2013. The total amount raised was £2124.00. We are also grateful to the many collectors who made this possible.

Brian Rainey,

Flag Day Co-Ordinator

Queen Street,


The protection of the unborn child

People worldwide have been saddened and abhorred over the years by the abuse and murders of innocent children and many of us in recent years and months have been horrified on the numerous occasions where little children have been slaughtered. It is touching to hear the sympathy and concern expressed, and it is also disconcerting, for in the U.S.A and in many other countries people have no qualms about ripping defenceless infants from their mothers’ wombs and dumping them like garbage in waste bins. The horrific realization is politicians in Ireland are planning to make abortion legal here. The Taoiseach thinks he is doing a great job by legislating for a minority viewpoint, yet he and all those who are for abortions are being deceived into slaughter of the holy innocents.

Are the politicians hoping to gain approval from the EU? Is this what they mean when they say that they have to bring Ireland into modern Europe? Poor Ireland!

What can be more savage than the killing of the country’s children who are our future, our hope and heart?

People must speak out and work hard. We must pray earnestly too for without God, we cannot, and without us, God will not. The children have no voice but ours. We dare not be silent, for as the great Civil Rights activist, Martin Luther King Jnr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Christina McLaren


Co. Derry

Ethna Johnston


Co. Derry

Where are our health care jobs?

Due to us living longer and demanding better health care, health care manufacturing is enjoying massive jobs growth. Apart from a welcome health care packaging factory the North West has no health care manufacturing jobs. Compare us to East NI. On Tuesday the Japanese Terumo Corporation announced 400 new health care manufacturing jobs in Larne. It already employs 350 in the Larne area. It manufactures medical devices such as blood transfusion equpment. Craigavon pharma company Almac last week announced 229 new pharma mainly high end jobs generating £5.5m in wages. It’s a £14m investment - Invest NI giving £2.2m- partly to boost their successful laxative drug. A few months ago, US owned PharmaLink announced 30 jobs. Then there’s Antrim based healthcare company Randox -growing jobs steadily in the last few years. Are our local power blocs -MLAs, Chamber, ILEX, Council, local media asleep here in aggressively chasing INI and Minster Foster for health care manufacturing jobs, or are they beavering away behind the escenes? I hope so.

Tom Bradley

Senior Lecturer in Science (Retired)

Co. Derry

Use of tear gas:

something wrong

From indebted Greece to rioting Turkey, European governments’ only response to protests is tear gas.

Critics say this answer is the complete opposite of dialogue and freedom and clear evidence that something is wrong in European democracies.

Forbidden on the battlefield, yet perfectly legal for use against civilian population, tear gas has become an all too familiar sight on news reports lately.

But the irritating agents and the way they empower governments to deal summarily with public disobedience raise many considerations.

Those vary from practical health risks that the supposedly non-lethal weapons pose towards vulnerable people to the more fundamental question of whether tear gas makes governments more detached from their populations and prone to suppression of civil freedoms.

Tear gas was invented in part to shut people up. This is where communication meets politics. We’re talking about a technology, a weapon that actually inhibits people from being able to speak.

Sean Ruddy

The Old Manse Hillhead


Co Donegal