I write in reference to Eamonn McCann’s article entitled ‘Who is fighting for Magee?’ printed in the ‘Journal’ on Tuesday 14th August. As a member of the Employment and Learning Committee at Stormont and a Foyle MLA who has been to the fore of fighting for Magee, I would like to respond.
I have publicly admonished the Minister at the Committee in September 2011, and at numerous private meetings specifically on Magee and the MaSN cap I have lobbied profusely for the student places Derry needs. I have also, again publicly, questioned Professor Barnett in June 2012 at the Committee on the University’s commitment to growth at Magee, both sessions are recorded and are open for public scrutiny. I have also issued a significant number of press releases to show that the Magee issue is high on my agenda for this City, and to update constituents on my work on their behalf.
I point that out only in response to the comment from Eamonn that “It is to suggest that Derry representatives should be pushing Minister Stephen Farry more strongly and publicly for proper treatment of Magee. Perhaps there’s a hubbub of lobbying behind the scenes. If so, it is hard to understand why it’s happening out of earshot of the Derry public.”
Furthermore, as part of the larger strategic development of Magee, I arranged meetings with the Education Minister with representatives of Foyle College to lobby for a new build, which will now enable Magee to physically expand onto the Northland Road, that is also a matter of public record. As part of the integration of the One Plan into the Programme for Government, I have been in contact with both the Minister and his officials to ensure that Derry’s priorities in terms of skills development and education, including Magee, are shared.
Indeed, senior officials will visit the constituency in the coming weeks at my invitation to discuss just that, and Magee will also be on the agenda.
Yes, the Department need to do more, the issue of the student places granted to Queens without a business case was and is unacceptable, in speaking to QUB officials after they had been told the news,
The opportunities arising from the move of Nursing courses to Magee represents a massive investment by the University in our City, though I think we would all accept that a collective re-focusing is required by us all to get Magee over the line in terms of capacity.
I do not accept the premise in the article that there is little going on to fight for Magee, Eamonn is welcome to trawl Hansard and Assembly questions both oral and written and he will see my continued dedication to Magee is there in black and white, such as the motion I tabled on 4th October 2011 which was defeated in the Assembly, when I was unfortunately unable to speak on due to illness.
In conclusion, I have sought a meeting with the First and Deputy First Minister to discuss accelerating the expansion of Magee via the One Plan in line with the Programme for Government commitments, and I await their response.
I assure you sir, Eamonn and your readers, that the fight for Magee is far from over as far as I am concerned.
Pat Ramsey MLA