"Bizarre" response arrives to Magee expansion by First Ministers - Farrell

Tue, 08/06/2021 - 15:20 -- Editor

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell has said that feedback from the First Ministers on Magee expansion was "bizarre".

The New Decade, New Approach deal which saw the restoration of institutions at Stormont in January 2020 stated that 'the Executive will bring forward proposals for the development and expansion of the Ulster University campus at Magee College, including the necessary increase in maximum student numbers to realise the 10,000 student campus target and a Graduate Entry Medical School'.

In February 2020, Derry City & Strabane District Council wrote to the First Ministers calling on the Executive 'to work collaboratively with Ulster University, Irish Government and UK Government to deliver the business case and expansion plans'.

Addressing last week's Full Council meeting, the Ballyarnett representative said,

"Hallelujah, praise the Lord. I didn't honestly think I would live to see the day where we would actually get a response from the First Ministers on Magee expansion.

"Unfortunately, it's very underwhelming.

"It states 'Our records indicate that this case has been passed to the Department for the Economy who would lead in this area.'

Cllr Farrell continued, There's no indication of when it was passed the Department for the Economy. Was it last week or last year? Nobody knows."

"All I know is that our records indicate that we wrote to the First Ministers in March 2020 and they didn't respond. We wrote to them again last June and they didn't respond. We wrote to them again in November and they didn't respond. And then in March this year, on the fourth time of asking, they finally responded."

Cllr Farrell concluded, "I'm surprised that it's taken over a year to get this less than informative response.

"And I'm equally surprised that the First Ministers who are jointly responsible for the oversight and governance of the New Decade, New Approach commitments had no further opinion to offer on the pressing issue of Magee expansion. I find it all very bizarre."

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Farrell said, "Over 500 days have passed since New Decade, New Approach stated that Magee expansion proposals would be brought forward. There are no proposals, just dithering, delay and downright avoidance. Derry deserves better."